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.
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.
|Getting ready for adventure.|
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
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
|Hoping my arms will work.|
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.
|Proof that we are exceedingly cool.|
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.
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.
But, every so
often, you will get a glimpse of what's possible with hard work, risk
and a lot of luck.
|Feeling a bit better|