3 Keys To Finding Balance in Motherhood

Writer Yuko Grover offers mothers tips for reclaiming their lives

Posted Aug 12, 2016

When I was a young woman of twenty-something, I felt so liberated, so filled with promise---yes, the world was there for me. Any dreams I had for my career, relationship, or even marriage seemed attainable based on the belief that as long as you keep making continuous efforts you'll achieve your goals. And I did achieve so many of my dreams—a great husband and marriage, happy & healthy children, a beautiful home in the most inspiring place to live, New York City!  What is there to complain about?

Yet recently, I found myself feeling despondent. My days were like a bullet train going from home to my children’s schools, doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, the drug store, or any store you name (there is always something we need). I felt empty and unfulfilled.

Being a mother was one thing.  But, I never knew that motherhood was so challenging---a 24 hour-shift, seven days a week with no break, vacation or sick leave. Motherhood is a one-way trip; you cannot go turn back, you can only go forward. 

In taking care of my daughters, I started to spend less time taking care of myself; I was the last thing on my to-do list. I was obsessed with servicing my kids, burying myself in parenting publications, spending a fortune on educational toys and taking my kids to New York City’s best toddler music class. My datebook was filled with play dates and birthday parties. Those activities kept me really busy, but they also kept me from having my own life. Here's what I learned:

1. Don’t give up on your dreams

The problem wasn't motherhood, it was my attitude. I was becoming too easily defeated. A voice echoed in me like a Greek chorus: "You can’t do this.  You can’t do that now. You can’t read more than 10 minutes. You can’t go out at night without making child-care arrangements. You can’t finish writing your novel."  My children became my excuse for not challenging myself to the fullest as I did when I was younger. My passion for my own life and dreams evaporated as I gave myself permission to sit back and give up. And the worst part, through my own example, I may have been teaching my daughters this is how they should live their lives.

2. Don’t get stuck in the background

Is there a middle-ground for handling the incredible work of motherhood and other aspects of my life?

“For me, there was not quite a middle-ground, honestly—it was more like a zigzag,” said one of mother friends, about raising her three beautiful children.  I thought about that—a zigzag—and something clicked in me.

There may be no middle ground, but I was stuck in the background!  Rather than focusing on something that I can’t do, what I’ve needed was to focus fully and more precisely on each role I perform in my life, whether as a mother or an aspiring writer.  Whichever role I play, I have to live in the moment and commit to that role wholeheartedly. 

3. Don’t limit yourself

Mothers have the potential to be many things. I may no longer have the unlimited time that I used to enjoy, but I am now training myself to live in the present moment more than ever.  And whenever discouragement hits me, I tell myself, ‘Never give up’ and pick myself up again. 

The following poem titled “Life” by Daisaku Ikeda (a Japanese peace activist, educator, and poet), which I have cherished since college, will sum up my new compass of life I love to take on:

“I’ve put behind me

 the age of just dreaming about a rosy future

 and, with roots extended into life’s reality,

 I realize that the power to create happiness

 derives from what we actually do today.”

       Yuko Grover is a writer and translator. Visit Yuko at www.YukoGrover.com