Motherhood is Like a Seesaw: How to Balance Out Your Heavy Load Without Losing Your Mind

Do you ever feel like you have a love/hate relationship with motherhood?

I love spending time with my children, but what I wouldn't give to have a few moments {dare I say hours?} by myself, even just to go to the bathroom in peace.

I'm so thrilled to finally go on a date with my husband and get out of the house, yet I find myself talking about and missing the children while we are gone.

I look forward to them becoming independent and doing things for themselves, yet when they finally do, I have an pang of sadness because they don't "need me" anymore.

I love that the house is "lived in"--that the toys are played with and the clothes are worn and dishes are used and floors are dirty--but I often get overwhelmed and frustrated with the upkeep for a family of six.

I get excited about all the great things that they are learning and doing and discovering about the world, but I get frustrated and hung up on the few things I have to remind them of and repeat over and over and over…

I wanted them, I prayed for them, I've cared for them, and I wouldn't trade them for the world, but oh there are some days when I really wish I could just give them back.

I enjoy the parts that I love and feel guilty about the parts that I hate. I feel guilty even saying there are parts that I hate, even though I know it's normal and valid.

It's a paradox, really. How can one love and hate the same thing so passionately, sometimes even the same day? How can one enjoy something so deeply and yet the next day want to run away?

The way I see it, motherhood is like a seesaw. Some days are good, others bad. Sometimes you do really well with controlling your temper, other days you scream and yell and scream some more, just for good measure. Some weeks you're really consistent with discipline and the homework routine and chores, other weeks get the best of you and you start to wonder who the parent is around here. Some days require many, many apologies, others are filled with joy. Back and forth, up and down.

On one side there are four little rocks {my children}, and on the other side there's me. Now, if the seesaw is a favorite childhood pastime of yours, you can clearly see what is about to happen. The deck is stacked against me. I'll promptly fly up into the air, legs outstretched in panic, wincing upon impact as my butt smacks the board and I jolt to a stop, stranded at the top and holding on for dear life. And they are all down at the bottom, laughing at me.

Some days are just like that, right?

For a seesaw to work properly, the load {children} must be balanced out by just the right amount of effort {mother/father} needed to raise the load. And children are quite the load to raise sometimes, aren't they? Parenting takes so much more effort then I ever could've imagined, and sometimes I find myself stuck at the top all alone, just wanting to throw my hands up in the air and say to heck with it. 

That's why we all need a support system in our lives as mothers {and fathers and parents and anyone raising children}. We need a good fulcrum--something that supports or sustains us, a point of rest, a prop, something to hold us up. A point on which the seesaw that is motherhood turns and pivots, allowing it to function as it was meant to. Without it, it's just a board on the ground.

Do you have one? A fulcrum that is. A support. A point of rest. A prop? Something to help hold you up when you can't do it anymore on your own?

Every mother needs one, but she's probably the last person in the world who would ask for one. Sometimes we moms like to think that we can do it all on our own. Sometimes we feel like we should be able to. Other times, we know we really need help, we just don't know who to ask or we feel like we're imposing. And sometimes well-meaning observers don't think to ask, because they don't realize how hard life can be with little kids.

When the babies are little, they require constant care, all of our energy, and much of our sleep, leaving a new momma exhausted. The baby is physically light at this point, so the fulcrum needs to be closest to the momma. It's her that needs the most help while she cares for her baby. Simple things, like dinner, groceries, a nap, maybe a night out with adult conversation to rejuvenate her recovering pregnancy-brain.

But as the child grows and more children arrive, the load begins to get heavier. The fulcrum must start to move towards the children if the load is to be balanced out. More effort is needed to raise them--more intentionality, more consistency, more sacrifice, more love and grace. Bigger children bring bigger problems, and the village is the fulcrum that helps parents raise the child. 

We desperately need the village these days, but the solidarity and togetherness of this archetypal "village" seems to have become a thing of the past. The village has become divided, more like a town with arch-rival football teams, and there is an air of competitiveness. It's no longer just "us," but "us and them." It's about who has the nicest lawn on the street, the biggest house. Whose kid is the smartest and most developmentally advanced and whose is the all-star athlete. Whose kid is in the National Honor Society, and whose kid beat up the kid in National Honor Society.

A true village will not grow in the soil of comparison and jealousy, where we're more concerned about one-upping each another then we are about people. Little people. A village grows when we sow seeds of grace, compassion, truth, love, service, and authenticity. 

Would you plant some of those seeds with me today? When the neighborhood kids are in and out of your house with their muddy feet, will you take care of them as you would your own? Would you reach out to another mom in your life and let her know she's not alone? Would you take any opportunity you can get to speak truth and love into the life of a child, even if they're not yours? Would you extend grace to the family that doesn't have it all together, offering help instead of condemnation?

Because if we work together to raise this heavy load, we will grow stronger along the way. Just like a new momma's muscles grow and adapt to carrying around the tiny infant all day, we will learn how to balance each other out and where it's best to put the fulcrum along the way so that the seesaw continues to work properly. We will grow stronger together, and so will the village.

It all comes down to the fulcrum, our support system. If you're in desperate need of one, ask for help, my friend. There's no shame in that. It does take a village, after all. If you're in a good spot right now, offer to be the fulcrum. It takes a village, and you can be that for someone. The village doesn't have to be a thing of the past--it can start with you today.

Feel free to SHARE this with the other mommas in your life!