The Great Balancing Act
The great Dr. Seuss said, “Step with care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.” The thing is, life in general is a great balancing act, but life with MS or any chronic illness sometimes feels like the greatest balancing act of all. I often feel like I’m balancing so many things in life. Whether it’s trying to be the best wife, the best mother, or just best human in general it can get overwhelming quickly. Today’s society is so consumed with the desire for acceptance and wanting to excel in every way possible that it’s difficult to feel like you’re one of the people that can pull it off. As women, most of us strive for the life that’s in fairytales. We want the perfectly developed life with the happiest marriage, the world-changing career, gorgeous homes, amazingly talented and well-behaved children, and so on. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the best at everything?
There are days I feel like the wife and mom I’ve always dreamt I would be, but then there are also days where my MS is kicking my behind and it’s all I can do to get myself going so that I can have the energy to chase after my one year old all day! We put such unfeasible standards on ourselves, and then when perfection proves impossible we are filled with the guilt that we couldn’t do it all. Today getting ahead is so glorified that if you’re not continuously achieving new things and dreaming higher dreams then the world becomes unsatisfied. Once again, we ALL have to learn that perfect balance.
It's okay to rest
I’ve learned over time with MS that trying to live the fast life is not doing me any good…trying to have that perfect fairytale life, while it may be glamorous, is achievable, but without the perfect balance of rest in my life then it’s mainly unrealistic. I’ve had to learn that it’s okay to rest when my little one is napping. As a young mom and wife that’s probably been one of the most difficult things for me. When I was in college I used to be proud of the minute amount of sleep I was getting. Of course there are seasons and moments in our lives where we must burn the candle at both ends and push through until the wee hours of the morning—but with MS and really just life in general, that sleep is essential to our overall health. To be physically, emotionally and spiritually stable, sleep is imperative.
Lack of sleep should not be glorified
Lack of sleep because of busy lives should not be glorified. It is important for me to be the best I can be for my family and for myself, and without sleep that simply proves impossible. A wonderful quote by Fredrick Buchner says, “Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.” WOW! Sleep for me cannot be neglected. I have had to learn that it’s okay to rest. It’s okay to be still and let my body recuperate from a crazy, busy day. The laundry will still be there, the dishes will still be there, and the toys will stay scattered on the floor-but if I don’t take the time and give myself a little grace and rest then I won’t be able to accomplish all of those tasks to be the wife and mom I strive to be. Let yourself rest. Let your mind and body be restored. Don’t neglect the need for rest, but rather plan for it. You know the quote, “You can sleep when you’re dead”? Sure, that’s true for some, but when your body relies on that rest and sleep to function to its fullest potential then you have to come to terms with knowing that learning to let go of the small things and to cherish and plan for sleep is more than okay.
It's hard to let go
Ironically, it takes work to learn how to rest, to be perfectly content with coming home and binging on Netflix rather than going out on the town. It took me a long time to understand that needing that rest doesn’t make me weak. I wanted to have the energy to go, go, go. My body doesn’t run that way though, and chances are if you’re also dealing with a chronic illness yours doesn’t either. It’s hard to let go of the constant need to have an identity built on image, success and productivity. Learning that I’m enough just the way I am, that I’m doing enough even if I take a minute to rest in between has proved tough. I enjoy being productive, active and living a life like everyone else. I relish in the fact that right now I am able to walk, that I am able to do housework and the activities I enjoy. I’ve always enjoyed working as well. But, hand in hand with work comes rest.
Know your true value
One of my favorite sayings says, “The work doesn’t make you valuable, you bring value to the work.” I’ve also learned that if I do not take a day off every now and then that it may- no, IT WILL, throw my life off balance. People may not always understand my need to rest or stay home, but I know why I have to. The ones that truly love and care about me don’t give me grief for needing that me time. I have surrendered to the fact that I am loved regardless of whether or not I am doing what everyone else does. When you know your true value, you know that you can rest- in fact, that rest is vital in order to restore and revive the upcoming challenges, adventures, and things to come.
Do you live with any comorbidities aside from MS?