I am awakened from my blissful slumber by a screaming baby. I hurriedly jump out of bed to snatch her up before she wakes the others. So the begins the walk down the length of the tightrope. I feel a little topsy-turvy when my other two children cry themselves awake. It’s as if a ceramic plate is being placed on my head to balance over the next portion of tightrope. The challenge is to hold it upright, not let it fall and shatter on the ground.
My husband gets up and takes over with the unhappy trio and I trudge off to the shower. Feeling fresh and happy, the ceramic plate I’m balancing seems to disappear. I am strong, tall and invincible.
Next task: breakfast. We’re making millet and buckwheat waffles. Sweet Angel Babycakes (the one-year-old) pulls the tallest stool over to help. Bear (the three-year-old) pulls the shorter stool over to help and my Pumpkin Girl (the five-year-old) begs to sit on the counter. Eight hands all working on the same measuring and pouring. I start to wobble. My footing seems a little unsecure on the tightrope. Then my oldest has to use the bathroom and my youngest is distracted by a toy.
Whew! Steady and firm again! Four hands working together makes easy and quick work. Every child sits down to eat. I also sit and eat.
Full and happy! Calm and balanced! We clean up and start our morning activities. I’ve made it this far, a quarter of the way towards my daily end goal, which is to stay upright, walk smoothly and remain steady in my reactions.
Then chaos erupts. The older two are fixated on the same train. Babycakes gets in the middle and ends up with a bonk on the noggin. She screams. I scream inside. All the while the tightrope horizon swims in the distance. A glass full of grape juice is placed in my right hand and I’m feeling off-kilter.
I take a deep breath. Separate the kids, soothe the baby, put her down for a nap. Things are quiet, the children are happy. I sneak into the kitchen and prepare lunch. The glass of juice slowly disappears and once again I am solid on the rope.
Lunchtime! That means six little hands and two larger hands are once again working in the kitchen, but I’m prepared. I pull the chicken, grape and apple salad out of the fridge. Each child takes a big scoop. I sit myself and eat until I’m completely satisfied. There are no interruptions with multiple wants or needs. I feel full and replenished and fantastic!
The adventure is half way over…
Despite the many hurdles on this journey I’ve found ways to be personally stable and balanced.
The first key for my steadiness is taking time each morning to shower and mentally plan my day. Doing my hair and makeup becomes a sort of meditation time where I can make simple goals and ponder what is required of me.
The second key to steadiness is to remind myself and my children often to breathe deeply. This helps calm even the most troubled heart and quiets tumultuous reactions.
The third key to steadiness is simplifying our schedules. There are times when I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. This is when the tightrope walk is agonizing. Every interruption to a tightly planned schedule can cause serious meltdowns (usually mine).
The fourth key to steadiness is quality food, the satisfying and nourishing kind. We need this fuel to sustain us.
Some other keys to steadiness in my book are: exercise, enough water, inspirational experiences, spontaneous tickle fights, girlfriend time, and passionate hobby time.
Each time I’m feeling wobbly and overburdened on my daily tightrope adventure I go through my checklist to determine which category is out of balance. Sometimes I’m not the person out of balance – it’s another family member. I take a deep breath and remind myself that I am only responsible for my reaction.
Sometimes I can do acrobatics on the tightrope of my daily journey. Other days I’m barely hanging on by my pinkie finger. Ultimately our family continues step by step to grow closer and stronger. We gain perspective and knowledge on different levels. The moments that bring joy are worth every effort to get there.
QUESTION: What are your personal keys to steadiness?
CHALLENGE: Make a list of your keys to personal steadiness and post them in several places throughout your home. If you are feeling unbalanced determine which will improve your footing and keep you grounded.