In The Balance

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #35: Balance

I could never watch circus performers walk the tightrope. Always covering my eyes and waiting for the clapping before peeking out. Never mind those daredevils who travel between 2 buildings balanced on a wire.

Olympic ice skating competitions? I’ll watch after it’s over…but only if I find out ahead of time that the skater stays upright.

Gymnastics and the balance beam: I hold my breath until the routine is over.

There is something about balance…and losing it…that terrifies me. More than it used to. Perhaps it is risk of injury or death. Or perhaps it’s just faith and confidence and control…or lack thereof. Maybe it’s all those hours the skaters, gymnasts and tightrope walkers put into a 10 minute routine…all for nothing if they fall.

As a child I was a risk taker, riding my bike down steep hills – feet off the pedals and hands up in the air. As a 26 year old new home owner, I’d walk on the asphalt roof to check for loose shingles. No problem. But then again, I was young and healthy.

Times have changed.

Balance in life choices? Not so clear cut. Closing my eyes and looking away…not an option.

As a young feminist coming of age during the dawning of Ms. magazine, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, I was bombarded with what felt like wrenching decisions about balancing life choices. Decisions laced with judgment…from the media, my parents, my friends.
Career or Motherhood?
Career and Motherhood?
How much career and how much motherhood.
Then there was marriage – or just living together – in the mix as well. And who or what deserved most of my time? And energy.

Life as a balance sheet started to emerge…

A seesaw perfectly aligned: 50/50 career and kids?
A seesaw off kilter…40/60 when kids are young…or is it 70/30?
Or heaven forbid, choose one over the other.
And what about a partner?
Or just you.
Where do you cut?
Without guilt…
The balancing act – even the thought of it – knots up the stomach.

So you “balance” the marriage, the career, the kids. The time for you with what’s left.
The best you can.
Trying to ignore the buzz of disapproval in dark corners.

Then the kids grow up. Start their own balancing acts.
Probably aiming to do it better. As they should.
And off they go. As they should.
The seesaw lowers a bit. Stability uncertain.

Career winds down
Screeches to a halt.
As you shift in the seat…
…the seesaw slams to the ground.
Glance up…look around…

Ah…the marriage is still there. Good thing.
Your back is killing you. Your feet hurt.
So insanely tired.
Your immune system starts complaining…
An unwelcome surprise
Upsetting the balance.
Once again.

Balance may be an illusion
Shifting day to day.
Hour to hour. Minute to minute.

Now going forward
Covering my eyes
That someone will be there to catch me
When I fall…

Perhaps the best balancing act of all.


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16 thoughts on “In The Balance

  1. Summed up very well. Aging and empty nest do require figuring out new ways of balancing one’s life. At least, there’s no more “buzzing of disapproval in dark corners” on how one manages one’s time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve walked well over the major hurdles by recognizing the need to balance all the things we can see and can’t see, aka, the superwoman’s perspective! I always learn something from your words of wisdom, thank you! This year is our first official ‘you can’t claim a dependent’ year…sigh, a new oh, dear, I’ll have to balance the budget yet again moment!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All the way through, I’m nodding. The movement to liberate us actually threw us into the fire in many ways. I ended up on my own with three children, trying to run a business – balancing my check book was hard enough – no time for personal balance. I often wonder if my disease is not a manifestation of the seesaw dropping – leaving me grounded. You are lucky your marriage held. I did eventually find Ric and have more balance now, comparably, but it is hard to break those old habits of do, do, do. Thanks for this walk through life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a challenging time to say the least. My heart goes out to you – raising 3 kids alone plus everything else. I totally believe chronic stress takes a huge toll…esp in the autoimmune disease process. Old habits are the hardest to break. For me, slowing down and taking more time for decision making helps. Thank you for your thoughts 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Incredible description of the balancing acts we perform through the different stages of life. And today, now that we are old and tired, we have to balance this too. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Life in the balance of choices, some controlled by fear, others faith. Thank you for sharing your tipping points, your tripping points, your treks on the edge of illusion. I appreciated your wrap around as well starting with the fear of falling and ending with the fear of falling, still hoping someone will be there to catch the fall before there’s pain and suffering. I also appreciated your balance of narrative and poetic structures. Thank you for an enjoyable Saturday morning read.

    Liked by 1 person

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