Don't Tell me to Find Balance

OH LAWD.  I’m just not doing this right.  

Life.  Love.  Friendship.  Business.  Obligations.  Motherhood.  Health.  ALL THIS.

None of it is going according to my intentions.   It’s like my heart says, “Do That.”  And my behaviors and past habits go, “But, I know better.”  And my wise old sage goes, “Uh oh.”  A trifecta of disaster a la Larry, Mo, and what is the third stooge’s name?  Yeah, I can’t even remember that.

Most mornings I wake up and feel behind.  Most nights I go to bed feeling like I could have done better.  And in between morning and evening, I’m the monkey in Monkey in the Middle, except it’s an epic game with large linebackers instead of little kids having fun.  What is this?  Is this what I worked so hard for in high school?  To prepare for the linebacker version of Monkey in the Middle?  Was algebra really a secret code for Survival and I missed that lesson?  Or was it too much male-authored existential literature in my AP English class?  What does it all mean and why is it so hard?

I’m not one of those complain-y moms who you’re gonna hear biatching about their kids - not that I knock the practice.  I’m just superstitious enough to believe that their little earholes hear every spoken word and their gorgeous porous hearts absorb every shitty thought.  So, I avoid the complain-y train on account of that.  I also avoid it because, I dunno know, I believe in my heart and soul that while motherhood is hard as all get-down, it doesn’t have to feel like THIS.  

Now, this is the point in the modern motherhood conversation where books and smart people would say to me: “Find balance” and the most tempting, “Simplify,” or even more alluringly, “Tidy Up.”  

And I tell you what, they’re right.  And, yes, I want these things.  But, dang, I’ve tried for that before and failed numerous times.  And the way I usually go about it is to cut things away, to boil stuff down, to restrict, to eliminate.  And it always backfires, because A) my existence is by nature and by choice chaotic, and B) I don’t really want to eliminate or take anything away. 

What I want is peace in the chaos.  I want joy in the mess.  I want lightness in the dark.  I want health in the ambition.  I want flow instead of force.  But, I don’t want to reduce my life or my obligations or my ambitions or my vision or my indulgences.  That’s old, antiquated bits of advice that leave us evolved and free women crawling back into the very cages that our heroes worked so hard to unlatch.  

It’s not modern motherhood that is the problem.  It’s not the enormous scope of obligation we all have that is the problem.  Modern motherhood is dynamic.  And complex.  I mean, hello, modern mothers have so many amazing things at our fingertips.  We get to mother as we want.  We get a voice.  We get to exit.  We get to enter.  We get to vote.  We get to work.  We get to do __________.  Sure, we have many many miles left to go in the Department of Equality and oodles of potential regression on the horizon, but there is so much power in modern motherhood that we can't forget to greet and embrace.  

So, the problem is not the many facets of our roles, the problem is that we are given completely caveperson-like tools to manage the heft of complexity we have the privilege to carry.  We need an innovative approach to our thriving so that we get to experience the innate power motherhood holds.   In order to take those final strides, we have to start right here, with the incredible potential of what is available to us and we have to start using it as a tool rather than a suppressive device.   

I mean, breathe in this list of incredible women - regardless of your political leanings, please:

Octavia Butler, Audre Lorde, Janelle Monae, Alice Walker, Lucy Parsons, Maya Angelou, Gwen Ifill, Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Harriet Tubman, Rosalind Franklin, Rachel Carson, Michelle Obama, Emma Watson, Helen Keller, Toni Morrison, Gloria Steinem, Sojourner Truth, Marie Curie, Mother Theresa, Florence Nightingale, Susan B. Anthony, Lucille Ball, Gilda Radner, Bea Arthur, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, Franny Lou Hamer, Elizabeth Warren, Simone Biles, Frida Kahlo, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Queen Elizabeth, Tammy Duckworth, Malala Yousafzai, Chief Wilma Mankiller, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Carrie Fisher, General Leia Organa, Victoria Woodhull, Clara Barton, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Cecile Richards, Nina Simone, Princess Diana, Josephine Baker, Anna May Wong, JK Rowling, Joni Mitchell, Fa Mu Lan, Sadie Mossell Alexander, Ruth Coker Burks, Maria Montessori, Lindy West, Roxanne Gay, Margaret Atwood, Joan of Arc, Aung San Suu Kyi, Clara Schumann, Hedy Lamarr, Sylvia Earle, Vera Rubin, Vandana Shiva, Ada Lovelace, Margaret Mead, Nelly Bly, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Smart, Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, Molly Ivins, Luvvie Ajayi, Cristen Conger, Patti Smith, Mary Ellen "Mammy" Pleasant, Adrienne Rich, Julia Child, Francis Perkins, Boudicca, Queen Maeve, Eleanore of Aquitaine, Odetta, Octavia Butler, Marion Pritchard, Gillian Welch, PJ Harvey, Daphne du Maurier, Jane Austen, Bronte Sisters, Dorothy Parker, Barbara Mikulski, Kara Walker, Maya Lin, Mirabal Sisters, Jane Goodall, Dorothy Day, Amelia Earhart, Glennon Doyle Melton, Amy Goodman, Susan Cain, Louise Hay, Janet Fitch, Emily Dickinson, Barbara Kingsolver, Grace Bonney, Harper Lee, Ida B Wells, Ayn Rand, Ellen Degeneres, Audrey Hepburn, and and and ....

Now, imagine if you walked up to one of them, after hearing her cry herself to sleep from a long and arduous day in the trenches, and said, “Hey, why don’t you just go home and have a glass of wine and eat some chocolate and read a book on tidying up your house after meditating on finding balance?”  Heck no.  You wouldn’t do it.  You know what you would do?  I guarantee that your immediate, knee-jerk reaction would be:  “How can I help you?”

Am I right?  

Instead of dodging or erasing the “get tos,” I think we need to support them.  The work is not in reducing modern motherhood, but is in remedying our readiness and our tools for it.  The work is in no longer allowing our society to exploit our weaknesses and objectify our successes.  The work is in not secretly clutching the day to day difficulties that each of us face at a harrowing pace and instead get help/support so you can do the work you’re here to do.  The work is in your deepest self - grabbing a hold of what makes you happy and alive, and then fighting hard for your children to absorb that. 

We have to create a body, a soul, a society hospitable for the power of modern motherhood.  We can’t wait for it to be hospitable to us.  Because it won’t just become that.  I mean, shit, it’s 2017 and I’m still having to teach women where their hooha is and why kegels don’t work. 

Speaking of which, kegels and your pelvic floor are a very good micro of the macro here.  We used to think - and by “we,” I mean male physicians - that kegels were the sole way to strengthen the pelvic floor.  Along with that, we thought that the longer you could hold a kegel the better.  Well, guess what?  That practice actually harms women.  The pelvic floor is not designed for static strength.  It needs instead to be like a trampoline.  A static pelvic floor is the weakest pelvic floor.  But, one that can exist with resilience, one that can come and go - now that’s a strong pelvic floor.  That’s one that can birth 8 kids and still wake up for a marathon.  

You, like your pelvic floor, are an organism of change.  You are, by design, an incredible force of survival and resilience.  This is the epitome of the female experience.  We are wild, intuitive, cyclical, changing, responsive, and extremely complex.  And, I think we all know that the world needs this exact sort of strength right now.  And, so, what you need are better tools that meet you right here.  That high five modern motherhood and it’s scope of chaos, and still allow you to experience joy and health.  

And, I’ll be clear as clear can be here:  Modern motherhood is an action sport.  You simply can’t survive it without physical strength.  You can’t survive it with a nervous system that is screaming for support.  You can’t survive it if you’re adrenals are shot and your endocrine system is a mess.  You can’t survive it without taking care of your amazing vehicle, your body.  And, let’s be honest, deep down, no matter how much you despise the fitness world and despise workout stuff, you know those things and - more importantly - you want them.  Period.  

Whew.  Now, in honor of this here truth, I’ve decided to completely change MommaStrong’s 30-Day Strength Challenge, The Hook.  Why?  Because I wasn’t focused entirely on this piece in my life and in yours.  And it was lacking the guts and the depth I know it deserves.  It was also lacking the actual Hook, ironically, in your life.  And the truth is that that was due to my own fear of diving into the complexity while not overwhelming you.  And by being afraid of that, it couldn’t be the partner you needed to get through the end.  So.  Screw all that.  

In essence, what I am doing with The Hook now is saying, How Can I Help You?

So, here goes:  The Hook will now be 28-Days.  The program will be exceptionally direct and clear, not a whole lot of extra bits and pieces to prepare for.  You’ll get one dynamic, effective 15-minute workout a day, which will end with 3-5 minutes of a “stretching lesson” on what I consider to be the Top 4 Problems to self-care, aka power hospitality, in modern motherhood:

  1. Perfectionism/Containers
  2.  Time/Choice
  3.  Boundaries/Wise Woman
  4.  Comparison/Self-Expression

Beyond that, each week that you meet your goals, you’ll be donating to a much more involved and juicy outreach program (Share the Show Up), so that you can practice your power easily with good company.

I honestly don’t know how to explain the program adequately and my asking you to join me on January 9th always feels like I need to follow it with some more assurances and explanation.  But, that’s a waste of time.  I trust your gut knows that it’s time to evolve your tools for power-hospitality in modern motherhood.  And I’m here for you.  

I can’t wait to start myself.  It’s time.  

Oh, CURLY!  Curly is the other stooge in the Three Stooges.  Whew, I can go to sleep now.




CURRENT MEMBERS:  Click here to get on the January 2017 Hook List

NEW MEMBERS:  Click here to get signed up for January 2017 Hook.  $2/month - cancel anytime.