By Ashley Evans, Pax on the Island
When I think of balance, I think of a scale perfectly centered. No tipping in either direction. The scale is, well, balanced.
Since the birth of my one-year-old son, Taran, I feel like I’ve constantly been trying to find the middle; the place where weight doesn’t fall stronger on one side or the other but rather, sits uniform.
When it comes to being a single mother, and full-time online university student – the balance is way off. It’s taken me a year, but I can finally say that I’ve found a place of balance in my life.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” ~Albert Einstein
And so, that is what I’m doing.
I had this utopic idea that Taran would nap for two hours, twice per day. That he would go to bed at 7pm, and wake at 8am the next morning. I had visions of him playing quietly while I strummed away on my keyboard, checking off essays on my mental to-do list. Where I got these crazy notions is beyond me, and these unrealistic expectations threw me off kilter for a good month or so. I was so focused on schoolwork, getting high marks, and studying that I began to lose sight of what is unmistakably more important than any of that – being his mama.
I’ve often heard the expression “you are what you surround yourself with.” At the end of most days I find myself habitually in reflection over this thought. I am not the organizational type. Being single while raising a toddler does not help this reality. Clean clothes begging to be folded sit on my bed for days, my desk looks like a paper storm hit it, and I swear the kitchen sink is always asking for more dirty dishes to wash. When I threw university into the mix as well, things really got messy (and not just in the literal sense). Along with every paper I submitted for the first month, I cursed the words “I have to drop out, this is way to much”.
But then something miraculous happened – I received my first B-.
I went into school with the thought that I didn’t want to be treated different because I was single, and a parent. I wanted to do well, to succeed, and my professors and peers to be proud of me. So, when I received this mark it was a huge blow to my hard work – and my ego. It took a couple days of self-pity, but after some deep reflection I found the silver lining. I needed wanted to focus my energy somewhere else, to do better where it mattered most – being a mama to my son.
Although I vowed this when Taran was born, I felt like I needed to re-instate my vows. I made the decision to be the best mother I could.
To focus my time, love, and energy on my inquisitive, curious, fun-loving, sweet boy. He deserves my time, my present-ness, and my focus way more than my papers do. And that’s not to say that I don’t put focus on schoolwork, because I do. But, it means that I’ve found my balance. When Taran is awake, life is about him, about us enjoying life, experiencing new and exciting adventures together. When he is in bed, I work on schoolwork until I’m too tired to keep my eyes open any longer (usually around 1am).
This works for me because when I feel like I have done a good job feeding the mind and heart of Taran all day, I am more open to feeding my own at night. I’ve thrown away the goal of receiving A’s in History in hopes of receiving A’s in mama-hood. I know that the mother I am now will undoubtedly affect Taran throughout his life. (And because a B in history will still earn me my Diploma).
My surroundings may appear messy because I haven’t folded laundry all week. But, my insides have found a happy balance of a mama who is more present with her son by day, and student who knows she’s already succeeded by night.
BIO: Ashley is a single mother to an adorable one-year-old Taren and a full-time university student. She blogs at Pax on the Island.
Dear friends, single mothers aren’t the only ones who struggle with finding balance, although they certainly do have a unique set of challenges! (Thanks so much for sharing part of your wonderful journey Ashley!!) Regardless of if you are single or not, have you found balance in your life? If not, what’s the biggest part of the struggle for you? And if so, what’s your secret?!