Balance? Ha! I laugh in the face of balance.

Balance is completely out the question for a perfectionist. It's all or nothing all the time. It's not a very practical way to live and frankly, it's really scary and difficult to navigate the world sometimes. I am often hoping to find a middle ground; in my thinking, habits, relationships. I'm so thankful to have a therapist who helps me sit in the tension of this challenge. It's so much easier to stay extreme or run away.
One of the things I'm working on in my life these days is fun. I know this sounds silly, but my second pregnancy and subsequent post-partum season required my world to be very small. I had problems with my joints in pregnancy, to the point that doing one errand would put me in bed the rest of the day. Before I got pregnant, I was running 3 miles a few times a week and feeling energized by it. 2 weeks after conception, I couldn't walk down the stairs. Needless to say, I didn't do much for those 9 months! It was a challenging season of life, for sure, but I learned the invaluable lesson (of which I had intended to pursue for some time) of doing less. On purpose. 
Friday night. We party hard.
After Penny was born last summer, we were hit with a major bout of post-partum depression. Each day was just about staying afloat. As we're coming out of that fog as a family, I'm really working to prioritize my individual needs. It's surprisingly difficult. There is always a reason to put myself last. Before it sounds like I'm either a saint or a martyr, this would be the point where it becomes painfully obvious that I have caretaking issues. Turns out, there's a series of behaviors called caretaking, where your choices in relationships cater to the thoughts, feelings, and perceived needs of the other person, sometimes to the detriment of your own needs. I've got this. I apply it in all relationships but especially with my immediate family, which is typical with any psychological issue. It doesn't help that the evangelical world praises such behavior as “having a servant's heart.” I remember being told that our priorities should be “God first. Others second. Self third.” While that might help someone else be altruistic, it encourages a compassionate perfectionist to have unhealthy boundaries and priorities. There's some sort of middle ground between being completely self-absorbed and having no gauge on your own needs and interests. Frighteningly enough, left unchecked, caretaking can lead to massive resentment. I believe resentment is one of the biggest threats to healthy, loving relationships and needs to be taken seriously. This makes having fun surprisingly important and difficult for me to pursue. 
Getting ready for adventure.
So, I'm working on figuring out what I like to do, what gives me energy and life. Some of these things I never lost touch with. These include reading, public speaking, having one-on-one conversations with friends, and spending time with children. That one's easy since I have my own now. Things I'm rediscovering include: writing (what,what), home design, being outside, exercise, listening to live music, painting and crafting.
As part of my pursuit of fun, I found a groupon for kayaking. I immediately texted my friend Danna to see if she'd go with me. As expected, she was totally up for it, so I bought it and we reserved our day. Well, Penny is teething. BAD.
I ended up at urgent care with her the day before to confirm nothing else was going on before the big 3 day weekend. She was deemed okay, though the doc thought she might have a virus as well. She was really unhappy Friday night and I am her favorite person thus far in her little life. Tim is definitely the next best thing but he also had a commitment in the middle of my kayaking reservation. We had already arranged for a sitter (who,encouragingly, has not been made to brush my teeth yet). As a mother, it's very difficult to leave your child in another person's care when you're pretty sure it's not fair to either of them. I didn't sleep well Friday night. I knew how much I needed to be on that water. I also could not reschedule it based on the company's policy. This had been on the calendar for at least a month. And maybe being on the river for 3 hours seems like it shouldn't be that hard to arrange. Sometimes it's not. And sometimes it feels like the hardest thing in the world.
Well, I woke up to a happier baby. Not her best, but a far cry from the night before. Her fever was way down and she wasn't as insanely cranky. Tim and I agreed that I could
reasonably go play (as a caretaker, I'm working on not needing his permission, but it is really helpful for me when I have it. It's hard for me to enjoy something if it is causing tension in my relationship.)
Hoping my arms will work.
So, I SPENT 3 HOURS IN A KAYAK! As I climbed into my kayak alongside Danna's, who had never been by the way, I have a deja vu from college. I spent my sophomore year at Pepperdine in Heidelberg, Germany. We traveled independently every weekend. One weekend, I went to Interlaken, Switzerland for a girls weekend. If you've never been, plan a trip. NOW. No, I'm not kidding. It's heaven on earth. Seriously gorgeous. We ended up finding a group of boys from our house having a guys trip at the same hostel. While the ladies planned a day of hiking, I was intrigued to find out the boys were planning on riding mopeds. I thought, huh, that sounds like fun. Granted, I don't know how to ride a bike. I know. It's actually super embarrassing for me to admit that. But, it's pertinent to the story. Not sure why I thought I could ride a moped by myself with a bunch of experienced boys on icy mountain roads in Switzerland. But I did. Needless to say, I crashed in the parking lot with the owner scowling at me.
Proof that we are exceedingly cool.
Good thing I had a helmet on because I definitely hit a tree. The owner of the bikes was an asshole, but that's beside the point. Perhaps being the child of two entrepreneurs makes me think if I will it in my mind, it will be so? My consolation prize was that I spent the day on the back of the most experienced boys bike and it was amazing! Mainly because I was forced, for my own safety, to hold onto his INSANELY NICE abs all day while taking in the view. Ah, that was a good day.
Back to kayaking. I climb in thinking, is this going to be another Alps experience? Is it possible that I killed myself working through psychological and logistical issues just to get here and capsize repeatedly? Or, if I'm really slow, will this “tour” not complete its route? Turns out, it was not an Alps experience. Danna and I killed it.
So happy!
There was a super slow person on the tour and he had to trade kayaks with the bad ass female instructor (who had a baby 6 months ago, natch) just to keep up. And though I'm sore today, I feel amazing! I love being outside! I love having coffee date-type conversation on the water. I love that I got home and Tim and I took the kids to the park. I love that my babysitter had a princess tea party with Macy while I was gone.
Best sitter ever.
Perhaps living a life of balance is an impossible goal, especially if we're talking about achieving that every day. But once in awhile, you get a day that is EXACTLY what you need. Maybe life isn't about feeling bad about all the days that don't measure up to impossible standards. Time to call that a wash, I say. We never “arrive”, which is a major bummer for us perfectionists. And frankly, I bet we'll keep trying.
Feeling a bit better
But, every so often, you will get a glimpse of what's possible with hard work, risk and a lot of luck.