Friday, June 3, 2011

A Good Balance

As a parent who stays at home, I am constantly learning the fine art of balancing.

Balancing the amount of sugar our children intake per day--mostly none...

...but on days like Easter, we let a Cadbury Egg slip through the old "Insulin Defenses."

The rest of the year is spent balancing the weight of the sugar in a Cadbury Egg against the actual food we eat. Conversations like this are often heard in our home, "A lollipop? Why not a hard boiled egg instead? Gosh, are they ever good!" or "A cookie? I know--a slightly salted rice cake with honey! Now THAT is some good stuff!" Maybe even, "You're wondering where all that candy that your grandparents gave you for Easter is? Well, direct your attention to this trail mix starring our friends, The Dried Cherries!!"

But alas, Easter comes, and with it, 89 hidden eggs in the backyard filled with yellow number five colored candy corn.

So tactic #1: divert their attention while slowly siphoning off the pastel candy corns into their cousin Courtney's basket.

Tactic #2: pretend like we don't see the eggs and maybe just let them think at Easter we find wood chips instead of hidden candy-filled eggs.

So we learn the art of balancing at Easter: while most of the year is full of Quinoa pasta and dried pineapple slices, there will be days full of sugar and fun. And that's ok. Their livers can detox yellow #5 and Cadbury Eggs. Plus, a little sugar is yummy for a kid.

Another lesson in balancing life: a small kitten.

Despite the Poop Clean Up in Aisle Laundry Room, the look on Shiloh's face when our cat, Ree comes in the room is priceless.

The look on Ree's face when Shiloh goes in for the kill is especially priceless.

Having a cat adds to the seemingly endless responsibilities as a mother: cooking three square meals a day plus numerous snacks, cleaning everything but the baseboards, putting away laundry that is never done, and raising two small kids, but when I look back on the "Should We Get This Cat Or Not" decision, it added a small amount to the Work Load--

--but a large amount to the Joy Load.

And that's a good balance.

We do a little bit of school at home and there are times when I think, "Is the energy I put into teaching her these things worth it? Am I off balance in even trying to expose her to this stuff??" Especially when I ask Canaan at dinner, "Tell your dad what letter we learned today!" (Silence.) "It sounds like p p p p..." (Nothing.) "We ate popcorn..." (And here it comes, "Remember when we saw that llama on my birthday last year? It was so weird.") While she may not be able to recite her letters or numbers or colors or periodic table yet, it's ok. Because I think we've provided a good balance of great experiences (however weird that llama really was) and the opportunity for her brain to grow in other ways (like drawing this little person crossing the broken bridge we were on that morning).

Or to choreograph a dance to Chris Brown with her dad.

Canaan literally learns the art of balancing in a tree at Piedmont Park with her Grandpa.

Shiloh learns how to balance precariously on the railing of the bridge.

While Tim and I learn the balance of marriage, kids, jobs, church, friends, and family every day.

Sometimes that balance isn't a 50/50 split, but rather providing spurts of quality time here and there.

And it makes everyone happy!

However, there are times when "Quality Time" seems to have failed miserably.

Like our visit to the Shriner's Circus.

Under the barrage of elephants and cotton candy and motorcyclists, lay the constant threat of clowns.

Canaan told us, "I don't think I like those clowns."

Shiloh shared in that apprehension. Not only were they clowns, but they were also the type of clowns that didn't quite make it to "The Big Top" of Ringling Brothers. Instead, these guys were the crowning glory of "Dollar Night: Also Known As Adult Group Home Night and Teenage Mom Night."

But quality time in this instance was focused around quality friends, not necessarily the quality of the death-defying feats preformed on a tight wire located nine heart-stopping feet above ground.

Quality friends who were especially cute, like Moses Bardin.

Or life time friends like Joy and Gracie Bardin, who also shared in the healthy fear of those clowns. All except Mr. Greg, who embraced those clowns.

I also find myself balancing "moo-vie" time (with favorites like Sleeping Beauty or Ariel topping the charts) and exercise time (like jumping on our trampoline).

Shiloh is up for anything.

Canaan tends to go into the "Brain Shutdown Mode" at which point it's like falling in love with your kidnapper: I think, "GREAT! I can check some emails and facebook and hulu..." but at the same time I'm thinking, "Oh no. Brain power oozing away..."

Then I think, "But if it's educational, surely that counts a little more?"

Like when we got up at 5:30, dressed in wedding attire, had tea and scones to watch the Royal Wedding.

Aunt Sarah was in her British Attire while Nana provided crowns. That was three hours of educational experience.

So TV and movies are another factor I'm constantly balancing. But I err on the side of "of course!" when David Beckham and Kate's Dress are involved.

A final balancing act: do I pursue a career where I'm maybe climbing the corporate ladder or becoming involved with an awesome ministry like North Point? Or do I stay at home with the girls until they get to school? Or can I do both??

Questions whose answers will probably keep changing throughout the years.

Like our good ole' boys, The Braves.

Do we keep holding out for another World Series like in the Glory Days of 95? Or do we resign ourselves to the fact that we mostly attend the games in hopes of seeing a drunken brawl or catch a foul ball?

While the end results may be unclear, at least we can live a balanced life where the day-to-day experiences are adding value to our marriage, our kids, our friends and family, and especially to God.

Because even God loves cotton candy. Probably.

And when I think of all the plugging away at laundry and groceries and letters and numbers and poopy diapers, there are times like in this video when I think, "This is a GREAT balance. It's totally worth it!!"