Parenting with no professional training since 2004 - still not an expert

Balancing our lives…and the lunches

           Sitting on my patio a few nights ago, after a long stretch of long and harried days, staring up at the night sky and the silhouette of the bamboo limbs that form a hedge along our back fence, I found myself contemplating balance. Mainly because my life doesn’t seem to have much lately. 

           I try not to complain much. I have a very good life. But over the last few weeks, I have been finding my very good life very overwhelming. 

          (More than likely, most of you haven’t noticed it’s been a few days since I last posted a blog entry, many because you’re in the same boat I am. If you did notice, however, I do apologize, but the care and keeping of the humans in my house and in my life has to come before the virtual world when a choice must be made. Such is life.) 

          Obviously, since I’m back to blogging, this week is a little better, but I have been drowning in fabulously enriching extracurricular activities (mainly my children’s, but also some of my own), work (that I do for a living), homework, charity work, and house work. Then there are these things called relationships that I try to foster. Add to that my migraines and that my nine year-old is adjusting to life with bifocals. 

          And there’s the lunches. 

         The lunches. I never thought packing two simple lunches a few days a week could be so…infuriating. Why, you ask? Because it seems to be the last thing I think to do after everything  else that has to be done is at least sort of done. Then, at about 9:45 p.m., as I’m about to sit down (in a leisurely way) for the first time all day long (and definitely for the first time since I got home from work), I remember the lunches. 

          “Aughhhhh!” This usually gets a puzzled look from my husband, followed by a look of understanding as I trudge back to the kitchen. “Make the sandwiches yet?” 

          “SHUT IT!” 

           So I make the lunches. At the beginning of the year, I was doing pretty good with this. There was fresh fruit, wheat thins, baby carrots, all kinds of stuff I could feel good about. Notice how I dropped “the beginning of the year” like we are more than three weeks into the school year. Less than a month in, I’m already limping in this department. It’s not a pretty picture. 

          And it gets worse as the week goes on. Picture this. It’s Wednesday night, which is always the last night of the week to make lunches for the week, because they don’t have the option of ordering a school lunch on Thursday, and I let them order pizza on Fridays. (As a treat for them. And for my sanity.) Wednesday is also church night, so we are inevitably already a little behind schedule for bedtime. Most of the time, it’s not too bad, because I’ve learned to keep a stockpile of things like individual sized yogurt and applesauce, but throw in a lack of lunch supplies and my complete lack of desire to visit the grocery store that evening, and the kids end up with some really interesting (or sad) lunch items. (“There’s some broken pieces left in the bottom of that bag of tortilla chips, take that, it’ll be fine!” or “You want pickles for lunch? Sure!” or “No, that cheese is SUPPOSED to be that color.”) 

We live and die by this calendar. Seriously. 
         As it would happen, the kids would only need lunches packed on two days last week, making it a good week in at least one respect. Then, I decided to make the week even better, to really save myself a few more ounces of my mental health, by doing something I never do. 

         I let the kids buy “Lunchables”. 

        On the way to the grocery store on Sunday night, when I announced that we would be making this purchase, you would have thought Christmas had come early. “Can I get the one with the pudding? Or the pizza one? Or the one with the cookies.” 

        If it means I don’t have to make sandwiches at 10:00 at night, you can have one with all of the above and three kinds of candy. Just kidding. Well, not really. Thankfully, the small grocery store I frequent has a smaller selection, with fewer of the less healthy “extras.” 

       But I digress. Back to the balance thing. Seeing as how I don’t seem to have any at this moment, is it really that important? 

       One of my favorite books (and movies) is Eat, Pray, Love. Ketut, a Balinese healer, tells the author and narrator at one point, “To lose balance sometimes… is part of living a balanced life.” Yes, I am a Christian and I love me some Jesus, but I do also love the idea of finding meaningfulness all over God’s world. (Note: If you are as enamored with the idea of Ketut as I, do not read the following: From what I’ve read about the real-life Ketut, and there is one, he is as smily and endearing as the movie portrays. And charges roughly $30 for a ten-minute meeting with him. Still, I think sentiment is valid.) 

        I guess the point is that we can’t always rock along in perfect rhythm and expect such a life to have a lot of meaning. That would be pretty boring (think “Stepford” or “Smallville”). I think it’s pretty universal that our emotions are the most heightened when our nerves are raw and the rough edges are exposed. We just FEEL more when things are a little off-kilter. 

        But we can’t continue to live in that “place” indefinitely or we will most certainly burn out. Something has to bring us back to center, whether that’s time alone (that would be me, the only child), time with those who provide you a “soft place to fall”, yoga, a long nap, a chance to catch up on writing/painting/DIY projects, whatever. Refuel. Take a breath. Decompress. 

        It’s kind of like the Lunchables thing. As a mom with a decent sense of overall nutrition, even on my worst parenting day, I know that I will soon come back around to putting my best foot forward there. 

        Because really, I’m the Jason Bourne of the lunches, and of most things in my life. Just when it looks like they’ve finally gotten me, I surface again. 

        Next week. Because this week’s in the bag. (Or rather the pre-packaged plastic tray anyway.) 

2 thoughts on “Balancing our lives…and the lunches”

  • I love this post. I found you through the MS blogger twitter, and though I don't have kids, I completely feel for you. I feel like when I do actually become a mom I'm going to be WAY off balance trying to handle everything. And even though you sound like you're kind of overwhelmed, it sounds like you're doing a great job. 🙂


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