Balance – What’s That?

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

June 12, 2010

Illustrated Proverb: Balancing elephant with cat
Image via Wikipedia

So, what does a “balancing act” mean to me, anyway? Why the name change? I’ve had several names for this collection of thoughts, and none seemed quite right. I’ve had separate blogs for separate thoughts, merged, and separated again. I’ve written in journals, on my computer, and for all the public to see. The constant theme is how I make sense of the world, and that theme has evolved to balance.

In my “why“, I detail how I remember my thought processes changing and evolving over time. Family and the environment have been core priorities for me, my whole life. As one who doesn’t “make friends” easily, my family has been the constant in my life. The Farm has been the overarching constant and will always be my true home. My Aunt Betsy put voice to my environmental passions back when I was in 5th grade by gifting me and my siblings 50 Ways You Can Safe the Earth. The following year she gifted, only, me a short biography on Winnie Mandela, Nelson Mandela‘s then wife. Family, environment, and social justice clear passions from the beginning. Top those books on my reading list to the facts of life: a receiver of free or reduced lunch, a renter my entire life because my parents couldn’t afford to buy, the product of divorced parents. The passions of life have been central to my life.

Now, I’m a 30-something mother of a 3 year old with a 4 year old marriage. In between those changes I finally received my degree. So, what’s supposed to happen after you get that degree? You’re supposed to take what you learned and apply it to the world at large. To society at large. Funny thing happened in 2008. The market crashed. I walked in August, and we recall the Wall Street debacle in September, right? I tried for 6 months to find a job on my own, but was unsuccessful. So, in January 2009 I went back to what’s previously worked for me: Staffing Services. I had a few jobs through February. It was surprising to me how great it was to get out of the house. In March, I landed a longer term temp job to help a non-profit finish out their quarter. The job ended a month early. This was fine because Peter ended up getting into the apprenticeship and working days. A day shift meant we needed daycare. Levi loved being in daycare, but I didn’t enjoy his mood when we got home. He was crabby and expected the same level of stimulation he received while in daycare. It made me feel like an incompetent parent. Now, the jobs I was able to accept had to be at a higher pay-rate. The wage I received during the longterm job was $12/hour – an average starting wage for many of the interesting jobs I see now. But, $12/hr pays for me to work. It is enough money to pay for me to be out of the house because that’s how much it cost to put Levi in daycare.

The last year has been trying to strike a balance between what I think I should do and what I have to do. I have to take care of Levi. As a mother, he is my first priority. My immediate family is my second priority. Some would argue that I should put myself first because if my needs aren’t met then my family’s needs can’t be met. So, that’s what my writing is about. Balance. Finding that balance between self-centered gratification and what my family needs and where my passions drive me. Money balancing has always been a challenge to me. Putting a family spin on it makes it new, and sometimes exciting, but more often frustrating. The Environment, our stewardship of it, our respect of it… that’s a very tricky balancing act. For example, I enjoy being a meat eater, but we need to balance what we can afford with the best-tasting organic, grassfed option available.

So, this blog is about balance. How I try to reconcile my beliefs and passions with everyday realities. And that’s why it went from “My view, my family, my life” to “The (Green) Life We Live” to “One Mom’s Balancing Act.” It’s not just about family. It’s not just about green things. It’s not just about my views. It’s about how all the myriad of things intertwine everyday and how I find my place in it.

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