Finding Balance and Acceptance

By Jennifer Battisti

On Tuesdays I go to a hot Pilates class. “This is your hour,” the instructor shouts through her head mic. My phone flashes with a cascade of notifications while engaging my core in a forearm plank. I am caring for my health, this is my hour. My body is at the gym, but my heart is tucked in my daughter’s backpack; still trying to manage the self-imposed inadequacy I feel because I was too anxious and impatient to connect with her before school. Later, I will buy her a sugar-laced treat in an attempt to unravel the knot of guilt I have been carrying around all day. At bedtime, I will remember I forgot to buy dog food while reading “Green Eggs and Ham.” My daughter will intuitively suspect I am distracted and become demanding for my attention. I will lay down that evening worried that I am failing her.

If this sounds at all familiar, you’re not alone.

We’ve all heard of empty-nest syndrome, which arrives post-adolescence when we are faced with the sudden and stark reality of unmarked calendars and quiet mornings. But there is another brand of barren nest; the one we neglect by splitting ourselves between the myriad of roles we are consistently juggling as mothers and women. This nest holds our authentic selves; the one who loves to garden, rock climb, sing karaoke and swim. We strive to live up to societal expectations to achieve personal success while also being stellar mommies and partners. The result is an abandonment of the very piece of our beings that provides the fuel to show up for our lives with wisdom and empathy. This is evident when I am irritable, critical or forgetful.

It is in the art of “being” that “doing” begins to fall away. We are models for our children on how to engage with the world. By being “all in” for the moments of our lives, they learn stillness and we begin to feel the playfulness of life.

It doesn’t hurt to set some boundaries. Try meditating for 10 minutes a day or turning off your notifications over the weekend. Commit to taking on only one activity at a time and saying no when you’re already over-scheduled—the circus is overrated. The result is the forgotten nest begins to fill with an abundance of love and wonder.

Jennifer Battisti is a local writer, poet and mother. She serves as the administrator and a participating Teaching Artist for the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project in Clark County.