Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Thoughts on Balance

Warning * Warning * I am interrupting regular happy posts with one that contains thoughts, feelings and opinions. The following will be just that and is not entirely accurate or true for everyone. Please know that while you read and …. read at your own risk. :)
I've been thinking and well, while I generally prefer to stay out of the debate, out of the fire, and keep my opinions to myself, I've decided hey, I have a voice and an opinion and so, I suppose I'd like to share a bit. I'm guessing that this is really only going to interest those of you that are moms (or dads, if you happen to have found your way here). Just an FYI.

It's summer! Beautiful, glorious summer! And my heart is full as is my house. Summer is certainly my favorite time of year. It's the laid back and adventurous side of the season that excites me. Sleeping in without a schedule. Travels to and fro. The kids trying something new at art camps or summer sports like tennis. Days spent on the open water, the wind whipping your hair and the water spraying your face while the boat races across the lake. The sparkling blue pool and hot sun overhead, top 40 tunes blasting over the speakers, kids laughing (and sure, sometimes yelling).
But also, it's hard. Sometimes it's really hard. Creating and finding a new summer rhythm with 4 kids can be interesting and I'm sure you might feel the same even with 2. We all feel the highs and lows of a summer schedule and for me, much of it comes to a crushing, back aching build up just before bed. The now later, more relaxed bed time of 9pm. And I'm done! So exhausted; ready for "me" time. You too? It makes me realize time and again, how appreciative I am of the school my kids go to, of the fact that we have found a place to educate these kids that is so exemplary and one that they love. Goodness, my boys had such outstanding teachers last year. And I realize how I am so not cut out for homeschooling. I know a lot of families that do … it seems a very popular way to educate. But I crave time alone and could not have the kids home with me everyday, be the sole person responsible for not only keeping them healthy, committed to doing what is good and right and loving God, AND educate them. Whew. Could not do it and I take my hat off to those moms and friends who do. It's a wow thing for me. Wow. And I admit, as with anything I read about on the inter-webs that has a passionate voice behind it, it leaves me feeling guilty at times. For not wanting to have the kids home with me all day, every day. For not having any desire to take the time to teach them. But we all have specialties don't we? Interests and passions. Cravings and dreams. That's just not mine. And as a mom who craves creativity and needs balance, that time to create, refuel or relax, I'm thankful for an excellent school for my kids. That's what it all comes down to for me, I think. Balance. I try to live a balanced life. I try to not be too extreme in any one direction (except for anything that relates to God - those things are black and white and not negotiable). But in providing a beautiful summer experience for my kids, I'm choosing balance. And for what it's worth, I think it's really important for moms to be careful to not go to one extreme or another, in regards to stating opinions. It's just upsetting. Facebook land is the evilest of all, isn't it? With all those posts from blogs the web over that we're sharing to represent us and our thoughts. Could be any Jo Shmo writing them. One such post went around and had me completely irate. I lost it a little bit, to be ashamedly honest. But it was in regards to chemotherapy and "how to not get cancer" and it was just completely offensive to me. And in the end, it was all false. False citings, false information, refuted point by point. Shared as if it was truth. A real good jab in the gut to a lot of people in my opinion.

And even in schooling, I wish that we could be more fair. That we wouldn't go ahead and share something like, say … public schools are a horrible mess or influence on our children when, well, that's a grey area. We all know or are the product of a public education and are spectacular, intelligent, God loving individuals who have awesome memories to share along with the yuck. And that's true for private schooling too. Homeschooling as well, I'm sure. There's not a right or a wrong there ladies. There just isn't. I see silly posts about it all the time. (This is where you say, "Stay away from Facebook if it bothers you!" and yes, you're right. It's abhorrent).
Here's what I mean. Food - balance. Healthy eating but not obsessing. I push the vegetables and then take them for ice cream. Balance. And gosh, can I go off on a tangent for just a moment about the greatest summer evil of all …. SCREEN TIME! I read a mom's letter to her kids (all over FB last week), perhaps even to her boys, but I can't remember the details. She gave her opinion on why screen time (iPhones, tablets, DS', XBox and the like) should not be allowed. Why she says no. And as usual, my first reaction to another mom's extreme case of why I do something the way I do it, was guilt. But I suppose the good thing is that these things inspire thought and conversation. And I considered my take on the whole thing and this is what it comes down to. Balance. I have decided that screen time is okay, and obviously (dear, dear computer), I too love it. So I came up with a daily schedule for the boys, a list of expectations. It helps to eliminate the "I'm bored" scenario and gives them ample options when they're searching for the next thing to do. They're allowed a certain numbers of hours for screen time every day and should not go beyond that. They have to read everyday, to do something creative everyday. To play outside everyday. You get the gist. It's likely the same for many of us. Why take away something that they enjoy when it's their summer break? I have boys for heaven's sake and they love playing video games. Their dad loves playing video games too and they play together many evenings after dinner. I think it's great. My husband played with his dad growing up and he loves that he was able to do that. Plus, he just happens to be a well rounded individual, smart, creative, awesome husband and awesome dad. Screen time, Taco Bell and all!

I think it was the line about going to a doctor's office and not allowing the kids to play on iPhones to allow for quiet. The message that sent across to our kids. If I went to a doctor's office with all my kids and did not give them something to keep them quiet, well, we'd have a circus. If they didn't start giggling loudly about something or other, they'd set into full on flag football practice right there and then. Just happens, they're wiggly worms. I understand what she was getting at. That we need to make quality time with our children a priority, that face time with our children is of the utmost importance (and not via iPhones ha!). And I agree, it certainly is. One on one conversations and interactions are priceless and cannot be forfeited. But do I want to talk to my kids all day long? Noooooooo. Balance right? I can't spend quality time with my kids all day long. I can't. I'll become a vicious red eyed monster and they will not like it. Though yes, taking time to focus on your kids and play with them or talk to them, hug them and snuggle with them, blast music and have dance parties with them, read with them, paint with them, play cards with them, well, those are beautiful moments in my day.
I'll be honest with you, I've been feeling completely blah lately. And with that I've had a mad case of mom guilt. The kind that creeps up on you when you hear other people's expectations of what a good mom is or should be. You've seen a glimpse of it here, now, but it's no different to that mom who cringes while her 3 year old screams at the Target check out cause she won't buy him a pack of gum. Or the one who has to excuse herself and the little from story time cause the little decided to bite his sister on the shoulder. Or the mom who has no choice but to work every day to help support her family. Or the mom who is just too tired to cook tonight. Or the mom who gets an epidural (yeah that's the only other time I've ever vented here - you might remember it ;). Or the mom who can only afford to buy store brand food, never mind organic. Or the mom who has to hire a nanny or a daycare (and pour a glass of wine each evening) to help her survive each day. I love that we're all different and that we don't all have to be the same. Can we celebrate that? Being different.

In South Africa, the expectations of how a mom should raise her children is wildly different. I am often reminded by my best friend that "it takes a tribe" to rear a child. A mom has much more help over there, as did my mother with us. Chika, you are one lucky girl!

I'm not perfect. I share the things that I love most here and photograph the best of my day and my life. I don't photograph my kids crying and my hair stringy, face ragged. That wouldn't be much fun would it? Ha - or maybe! My kids have added to the wrinkles (but let's call them laugh lines) on my face and grey (nay, silver) in my hair. I have a completely flat chest (can wear a J Lo dress without looking even remotely sexy or inappropriate). I have grandma hands and calloused dancer's feet. My kids get pink eye sometimes and my couch has horrible stains on it from years worth of drinks spilled. Dirty floors make me really grumpy and sometimes I get mad enough that I yell. And finally, I have no patience for people that worry for a living. Can't.stand.it.

That's me. (Though there's much, much more.) Pleased to meet you. I'm completely imperfect.

So this is for all the moms who sometimes feel like me, a little guilty for not being perfect (I feel like I have a microphone in my hands and you're supposed to wave your arms and say "hey - ay"). It's okay. I think you're perfect, perfect in every possible way. Perfect for your kids and for your family. Don't do something because someone said it was the best for your kids. You're making the best decisions for your family and your kids love you for it. You don't have to live up to any expectations. Just relax and enjoy. Be happy. STOP WORRYING. About your now and about your future. Trust God. He's got your back.

Strive for balance. That might be a good place to start.

There. Done. Promise I won't complain again for another 6 months. :)


  1. Best blog post ever! Please, don't wait another 6 months for another. ;)

  2. I so needed this today! Thank you for being open, honest, real, and above all balanced!

  3. Beautiful post, Kirsty! I'm learning that balance -in all areas, knowing yourself and what you need to best thrive and love those around you, and trying your hardest to not compare yourself to others, are such key ingredients to a happy and full life. Thanks for your honesty <3

  4. Enjoyed your candor; thank you for sharing. If you saw the honest reality of the moms that look perfect, you'd not let yourself feel guilty. We're all imperfect, and struggling to do the best for our families. But I love what you said...that "you're perfect for your kids and your family"... So true. And I love that you have creative outlets and are still a loving Mommy of 4!! I fret with myself and "what does balance look like?!"... ( www.lauriestrickandfancyriding.com )


Thanks for reading!
xx Kirsty

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