July 07, 2010

The Great Balancing Act

When I was little my Mom told me she twirled the baton in the circus. She didn’t just come right out and say “hey guys, I twirled the baton in the circus!” It was probably more like a quick response to a series of questions I was firing at her and she answered with “because I was in the circus” - to which I’m sure I didn’t just accept the response and let it go… I’m almost positive I asked another series of questions which led to an exasperated response of, “yes, I twirled the baton in the circus!”

Needless to say, I believed that my Mom twirled the baton in the circus, and literally told everyone I knew, until I was 12. The only reason I stopped when I was 12 was because my Mom happened to be in my presence when I was telling someone about her astounding past and said, “No I didn’t!”

Reflecting back on my Mom’s storytelling days, I may consider telling Clover that I too was in the circus; because let me just express how much of a balancing act motherhood can be.

In case you don’t already know by now, I’m about as hands-on as a Mom as they come. I still rock my 20 month old to sleep at night, she still sleeps with me, my Mom has babysat her a total of 2 times (and has been her only babysitter) and I breastfed her until she was almost 18 months old. Sure, to some parents that might sound like a lot of work. And sometimes it really is. But more importantly, in my opinion, it’s called being a parent. I’m not saying you need to be 100% attached to your child at all times to be a good parent, and I’m not saying that I am so attached to my daughter that I don’t trust anyone else to watch her, or feel like I don't need time apart from her and her from me. What I’m trying to express is how much I truly enjoy being with her, 99% of the time (it’s not always peaches and cream).

I’ve always enjoyed my space, my alone time, being by myself. Yes, I’m an extrovert and I love being around people. But believe it or not, I have always valued my time alone too. I love painting and making things, reading for hours, researching on the computer, reading blogs, organizing things, sewing, knitting and even laying on the couch watching a good movie. All of which, I enjoy doing alone.

I also enjoy being with Clover. I love laughing with her, dancing with her, taking her to story time, play dates, play groups, the pool, the zoo, playgrounds, etc. I feel like each adventure teaches her something new, and that is so important. I love to expose her to new things and surroundings, and best of all, I love watching and experiencing this with her.

The Great Balancing Act is that there are only 24 hours in each day, and at some point, I need to sleep. And occasionally I need to shower. And just once each day, I like to go to bathroom by myself.

So, I spend the days with Clover and the nights by myself. Sure, I can’t paint, read for hours, browse on the computer, watch a movie and sleep at least 6 hours all in one night. I’ve had to learn to make mental and physical lists of everything I want to do, for myself, and pick one each night.

Sometimes I get frustrated because I feel like the nights are only so long, and I want more alone time.  However, I also don’t want to give up any of my time with Clover to do something else. I don’t want to miss out on any cute “new” things she does just because I want to read a good book. Most often, I struggle with wanting to do something for myself. I’ll paint at the dining room table while Clover watches Curious George and plays by herself in the living room. I know it’s good for her to play alone, but then I feel guilty after awhile, like I’m ignoring her.

Sure, I could get a babysitter and have a few hours alone. Honestly though, I would hate the feeling of someone else playing with her, laughing at her, experiencing things with her.

I’ve been trying to get in shape and have been walking at night. Sometimes I walk after Clover goes to bed, but I don’t like to walk in the dark, and I’ve increased my mileage, so it’s better if I walk after dinner when Dustin is home. I know it’s great for them to spend time together, and I am happy that they have that time. But each night when I’m out on a walk, I can’t help but think about how much fun they’re having during bath time. How I’m missing her cute little laughs as he struggles to brush her teeth. How cute and snuggly she looks in her pajamas. I want to be there too.

I wish I could hit pause on life so I could do it all. Hit pause right after dinner, go for a long walk, un-pause when I get home and not miss out on any of her nightly routine. Instead, I try to alternate days of short walks with Clover in the stroller, and nights of long walks when Dustin gets her ready for bed.

It’s hard, but she’s only this age once. I know years from now, I’ll be wishing to spend more time with her and less time alone. I know, God willing, that I will have plenty of time in my future to paint or read a good book. I am also positive that I will never be able to re-live this time with Clover.

The Great Balancing Act.

I think I’ll give Barnum & Bailey a call and see if they want to include me in their show.

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