As moms we hear a lot about balance. We have to find a magic balance of quality time for children, ourselves, and our significant others. We’re also supposed to fit in laundry, toilet scrubbing, and recreational hair removal somewhere in there too, but that’s a discussion for another day.
The balance I want to talk about is in our personalities. We all have strengths and weakness. Duh. It’s all about yin and yang: one can not exist without the other. I struggle and strive to accept my own balance, yet find it easier to appreciate the yin and yang of others. And perhaps because I am so horribly flawed myself, I find myself loving my closest friends because of their flaws, not in spite of them. I’ll give you some examples:
My friend Julia is as loyal as friends come. She also lacks a few social filters now and then. (She occasionally calls me for social etiquette advice which baffles me in a “blind leading the blind” sort of way. But I digress.) Every year Julia’s parents take the family to their time-share in Hawaii. For the first few years single Julia was given the hide-a-bed in the living room, while her married siblings enjoyed their own bedrooms.
Julia’s lack of social filters provided a simple solution to this problem. Every morning when her father came into the kitchen/living room to make his coffee, Julia got up from the hide-a-bed and walked past her father to the bathroom–completely naked. The following year Julia had her own bedroom in her parents NEW timeshare and everyone enjoyed a fabulous vacation. This happened about 6 years ago and I’m still laughing.
I have another friend, Sheila, whose relationship with money is very similar to my relationship with toilet paper: she absolutely only thinks about it when she needs it. She’s not a deadbeat; she works, and over the years she has managed to earn enough to look good, travel well, and amass a stunning collection of adult novelty paraphernalia. But her car is a piece of crap and if you loan her gas money she may or may not pay you back.
On the other hand, if the pressure of life as the “perfect stay-at-home mom” forces you to go out, drink one too many glasses of Riesling and then boobie-flash a church bus on their way home from the Annual Potluck and Vespers Service in the Park, Sheila is your go-to gal. She’ll cheer you on, drive your drunk-self home, and high-five you while referring to your night as “epic.” Sheila is also an excellent wingman, social networker and gifted party planner. Clearly she’s worth a tank of gas or two and would be a huge asset to any circle of friends!
Then there is Amelia. Amelia looks likes Snow White, if Snow White dressed better. She eats like a lumber jack and never gains a pound. She has had more men propose to her than I’ve had dates. She stays freakishly calm in the midst of total crisis. She is also more prone to accidents and embarrassing moments than any person I have ever met. She frequently trips over thin air or her own feet and lands flat on her face and laughing. She bumps into hanging plants, small children and the occasional parked car. Once, while chatting with her elderly next door neighbor, Amelia’s two year-old tugged so hard on Amelia’s pants that they ended up around her ankles. Did I mention it was laundry day and Amelia wasn’t wearing underwear? She wasn’t.
When I’m with Amelia I am always at ease because I know that any potential embarrassing moments will (according the laws of nature and physics) sail right past me and land, plop!, in her cute little lap. You can’t buy that kind of peace of mind. These frequent embarrassing moments have given Amelia the ability to laugh at herself and live with true empathy for others. Her clumsiness balances her charm and beauty and makes her completely lovable.
And then there’s me: I am so bad with money I run on the barter system. I rarely leave or listen to phone messages. If you want my attention you need to talk to me in person (which is tricky since I screen my calls and my front door). I’m at least 20 minutes late for everything. I almost always half-ass it on potluck dishes. I have a tendency to offend others with my sometimes witty, often personal, quips and observations. (Some have suggested I may suffer from a yet undiscovered form of Tourette Syndrome.)
But when it comes to close friends, I will answer the phone, day or night, and patiently listen to them whine about their significant other, mother/father/sibling, or boss/coworker. I will say yes to just about any favor a friend asks. I have a weird talent for connecting people and have facilitated many successful partnerships both in love and business. And when I do show up 45 minutes late to a party I didn’t RSVP for, I might only bring a half-eaten bag of chips but I also bring the fun.
Look around and within. Are you beating up yourself or someone else for a flaw you can’t stand? Perhaps when we remember that each of our weaknesses are inextricably attached to our greatest strengths we will be a bit kinder to ourselves and others. As the wise sage, Stuart Smalley, once said: