Balance and Simplicity

I have always wanted a simple life. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of having five daughters and living in an old house on a huge property in the middle of nowhere, cooking, baking, sewing, homeschooling and living a simple life. My dream was to someday be a mother and wife and now in a way I am living that dream, although it is not exactly how I pictured it.

Sometimes (a lot of the time) I have this picture in my head about how I want things to be, about how I want life to be. I want to be the mom that is fun and friendly and knows how to play and relate to her kids. I also want to be the mom who sets boundaries and gives her children tough love and teaches them what is really important in life and what truly matters. I want to be the wife that keeps her home tidy, makes nutritious, delicious meals for her family and keeps her family happy and healthy.

I want my kids to be polite and caring. I want them to know right from wrong. I want them to understand that the world is not here for them to endlessly take from and supply them with all that they want and people aren’t here to be what they want them to give them whatever they want. I want them to grow up giving of themselves and knowing that selfish people can never be happy. On a smaller scale, I just want them to eat their meals without complaining and be grateful for the food upon their plates. I want them not to argue, but to be kind and respectful to the different members of this household.

Ah, yes. That is what I want. That is the dream I have in my mind. Too bad what I want and what I dream is so different from reality.

Life is not all perfect and spotless, happy and healthy around here. No siree. And I’m thinking that God must have a major sense of humor since he often likes to dish out the exact opposite of my dream self, children and family. I also know that it is for my benefit, even though at times life seems so hard that I want to quit (although I never can quit being a mom). I wish I at least had a manual or some kind of recipe that I could have thoroughly read and prepared myself for being a mother before I actually had these three girlies. I know however that the only way I can actually be a better mother and develop my fun/loving/balanced mom muscle is by exercising it and living out my role each and every day, even if it is imperfect and even during the toughest of times.

I know deep down that these trials are actually lessons given to me so that I can learn to let go of my picture perfect plans and surrender to what is with a heart of gratitude. The people in my life that drive me crazy and make me want to scream and run away are only reflecting myself back to me (<—-  that’s a fun one to think about!) and all of this is going on so that I can learn to love and accept myself and others exactly as they are and see the greatest good in every one and every thing. Yep, real fun stuff! 

But I have such plans! Big ones. I don’t want to give them up. I want that perfection so badly in all it’s forms. I want to be the perfect mom who has endless patience. The mom that never needs to feel upset at her kids for not wanting to eat the meal that she spent hours slaving over. The mom that never needs a break but gives of herself every minute of ever day to her family. I want to be supermom. I want the perfect, polite and obedient children, who never argue and finish every bite on their plate with gratitude, reflecting to the world just how super their supermom is.

The truth is, I really am doing my best. It is just that I am always just a little bit out of balance. Well, some days a lot out of balance. Some days I want to be the awesome mom who is fun and makes doughnuts for breakfast and lets her kids play and take a day off of schoolwork. Other days, I see how I have become too fun when my children and they have lost their respect for me as their mother. They lose their appreciation for a bowl of oats and complain about everything else under the sun. Sometimes I get so close to finding that balance and then as suddenly as it appears, it slips away from me again.

Friday I had that realization. After another food battle with Kesa I nearly had it. I wanted to run away. I wanted to cry. I wanted to quit. Then not only was this lunch situation too hard for me, as I entertained the one thought of feeding Kesa her lunch being impossible, everything else seemed too hard for me too. Being healthy was too hard, being vegan was too hard, being a stay at home mom was too hard, homeschooling was too hard. Life was too hard and I felt that balance slip away again.

The toughest realization was not that my kids weren’t acting nice or kind (or being my dream children) but that I felt I was to blame. I felt that as their mother I should at least be able to get them to eat their meals. I took a look around and realized that we had once again gotten off track and into too much stimulation these days. We had lost simplicity. There were toys everywhere, movies piled up by the DVD player, a half eaten box of sugary cereal on the counter, two ungrateful, tired, whiny, overstimulated children and one overwhelmed mother.

After a long talk/vent with my own mother on the phone, sorting out my thoughts and sharing my struggles, I once again realized that I had lost that balance. I realized that I was not living the way that I wanted to and had become more of my kids’ friend than their mom and now they were beginning to walk all over me. Instead of feeling hopeless and giving up on finding that balance and simplicity, I picked myself up, took a deep breath and once again decided to get back on track (for the millionth, but not the last time).

I started cleaning the house and decided to do a purging of their toys. I got out a big box to put things to donate in and cleared away a whole bunch of things that I was tired of taking up space in our lives and limiting my children’s creativity. I love to see them come up with their imaginative games and be creative and I am becoming more convinced than ever these days that having all of this stuff is what is taking away from that. There is no room for imagination and creative play with all of these toys that make noise and do everything for you. These days, a baby doll can not just be a simple baby doll anymore, it has to talk and crawl or pee. Am I the only one who thinks that this is crazy?

The Christmas season always gets me thinking about how unnecessary, unbalanced and out of control life has become. Christmastime has in fact become a time to consume like crazy and be gluttonous in every way. It seems to have become a time for shopping and eating and gratifying our desires rather than about Christ or love or being unselfish and giving to others. It is supposed to be a season of love and of giving, but we are so far removed from that meaning in our mindless consuming and taking from the planet to buy all of these things that we don’t really need, but we think will bring us or others happiness. Or maybe some of us already know that ‘things’ won’t make any of us any happier, but we are just so caught up in it all, that we have forgotten what we are even doing.

I was looking through the wishbook trying to think of something that my girls could possibly get this year as a Christmas gift and could honestly not come up with a single need. They have everything they need and what they want they already have 30 of too. I am downright sick of it. We have all that we need and then some. In fact, what we truly need is a whole lot less. What we truly need is balance and simplicity.

So, this year I want to have a simple Christmas. I don’t want to take part in the crazy consuming and gluttony that this season always seems to bring. I don’t want more stuff, more things to take away from what our family really, truly needs. I want to get back to the true meaning of the Christmas season, a season of hope, love, simplicity, gratitude and selflessness (cheesy as that sounds). I don’t want to get sucked into the crazy consumer vortex and I don’t want my kids to either.

I don’t exactly know how I am going to do this yet either. Last year we bought mostly second hand gifts for our girls and tried to keep things more simple. This year I have already purchased a few things for them, some of which are second hand, some of which are new. It is especially hard to have a simple Christmas when it seems that every one else, especially well-meaning family members have gotten caught up in consuming as well. I feel like I am caught between doing what I know in my heart is the right thing for myself and my family and just going with the flow and trying to fit in and be normal. There is honestly no material thing that any one member of our family needs and just being asked the question, what do you want or what do you need for Christmas really drives me crazy. What we truly need is balance. What we truly need is simplicity. It’s just too bad that both of these seem impossible to find.

What we truly need is not in a wishbook or in a department store. It is not something attained overnight, a cheap thrill or a quick fix to your problems. No, simplicity must be cultivated. Balance must be discovered in living every day life, learning our lessons through the good times and bad. Both simplicity and balance are difficult to find because they are of true value and what I believe are both necessary for true and lasting happiness.

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