The Torture Balance

In pharmacy school, we used torsion balances and for a good reason, we called them ‘torture balances’. I don’t know how many people will know what a torsion balance is, but it is a scale where the product you are weighing goes on one side and on the other side, you put the actual weights. Once the scales balance, you can see how much your product weighs by how many weights you put on the one side. Typically this is an extremely slow way of weighing anything and for awhile, each side slams down as you either put on way too much weight or not enough. It takes a long time with some sides falling down throughout, until you can find the right amount of weight to find the perfect balance. There’s a chance that only my fellow pharmacy students will understand this analogy but right now, I’m feeling like if there is one kid on each side of the scale and an equal amount of attention will balance them out, one of them is always slamming down getting way more attention or one is not getting much attention at all. I’m not sure if I’ve actually been able to find a balance since Deacon was born without some help from family and friends.

This might come as a surprise, but I’m finding that my toddler, Emmelyn gets way more attention than the baby, Deacon. I know Emmelyn wouldn’t agree with this statement but hear me out. Deacon of course gets fed around the clock and gets lots of time from me with diaper changes and being put to sleep and everything, but Emmelyn also gets a lot of attention during these times too. I’ll read Emmelyn books, color, make towers if blocks are within reach, and play some games with her while Deacon is eating. She’s always talking or hanging out right at my feet when I’m doing diaper changes or playing in his crib that’s right beside the change table. When he’s sleeping, she’s right by my side playing, “helping” make meals or doing the dishes. I don’t know if this started because of some guilt when Deacon was born and the knowing that Emmelyn would get significantly less attention than she was used to, so I overloaded in the beginning and that became the routine, but she doesn’t seem to be falling short.

I think the increased attention is partly because of Emmelyn’s personality too. She loves helping with everything and anything that we’re doing. Even if she’s playing nicely with toys and I try to sneak out to make a meal, she immediately follows me to see what I’m up to and she will always drop what she’s doing to help in the kitchen. We’re definitely working on her independent play skills and I think this comes more naturally to some kids but my daughter likes to stick pretty close to my side. I can’t complain. I love that she always wants to help out. But sometimes, a little alone time wouldn’t be the worst thing.

On the other hand, it’s because of Deacon’s personality too! He’s a very content, patient baby. He has no problem sitting on the floor, playing with his toys and watching everything happen around him. If he needs something, he whines and he’ll get it and then he’s happy again. I’m a very lucky mother. I do feel some guilt that I’m not reading him more books, singing him more songs, making him all homemade food, and making him sensory bins like Emmelyn got when she was a baby. But I have to remember that he gets entertainment from his older sister that I could never give him even if I had the time. She doesn’t have to be paying any attention to him and he enjoys just watching her. When she does give him toys, play with him, and give him hugs it’s just an added bonus for him. They can form their own relationship without me being completely involved. It’s pretty amazing to see how much these two love each other even when they’re so young. I can just sit back and watch their bond grow. It does help that Deacon can’t move very far yet and steal Em’s toys away. She definitely makes sure he knows who the boss is!

I guess through these months I’ve learned that there will probably never be a perfect balance with my time and attention for each of them and if there is, it’s fleeting. I’m sure there will be a stage where the scales will tip and Deacon will get a lot more attention than Emmelyn. In reality, it changes all the time throughout the day. Even in these last couple weeks I’ve noticed that Em is starting to learn how to play by herself more and is paying slightly less attention to me. It feels like a distant dream, but I’m sure someday they’ll play together while I get to do my own thing for a few minutes! Until I have to break up a fight of course.

I know balance is something we’re all chasing in every area of our life- Work and life balance; Balance in relationships between friends and family; Balance in time spent with your spouse, time spent alone, time spent with kids; Balance between chores and playing with your kids. It’s a never-ending battle. Something usually has to give and that’s okay. Maybe there’s no such thing as balance. Maybe our ‘torture balances’ had a life message for us. You’ll torture yourself trying to constantly keep a perfect balance with all the things in life and then feeling like you’re falling short. Give yourself grace. We’re all just doing the best we can and everyone is probably doing a better job of it than they think they are. My kids might get less one-on-one time with Mom now, but they’ll learn so much without me. They’ll form a relationship with each other; they’ll learn more independence, patience, problem solving skills, and if things go well, they might even learn how to share. A girl can dream.

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