There is a REAL struggle to have it all. Be it all. Do it all. No matter how good I become at suppressing these aching thoughts and emotions, they always seem to creep back, winding their way into my brain through unsuspecting venues. We’ve all heard the warnings of spending too much time on social media and how such time sucks lead down the road to comparisons and dissatisfaction with one’s own life. Guard your time. Filter the content you see. Block notifications from the people who contribute to unhealthy thoughts. These are all good safeguards.

The struggle I feel is more than just from what I see on social media. I have an inner drive to use the education I’ve been given, to make money and contribute to the financial status of my home. Who DOESN’T want to be able to begin that kitchen remodel or take a much needed tropical vacation? I have a drive to continue to push my business to be better — more efficient, creative, innovative, and more profitable. Yet I also feel an overwhelming heart-tug to be the best mom I can be to my sweet daughter, knowing that the days with toddlers are long, but the years are short. I also want to plant gardens, have a spotless home, and keep plants alive for more than one week. I want to invite the ladies in my neighborhood over for tea and get to know them. But I just don’t have time for it all. I don’t have the time to be my own ideal of perfect.

I left the corporate world after my daughter was born. I thought it would be bliss to office out of my home, determine my own work hours, and be accountable to myself. A year and a half later, I sometimes envy my husband when he kisses us goodbye in the morning and drives to his office where he can sit at a desk and drink all the coffee he wants, uninterrupted. My own work hours are often from 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. while my family sleeps. Meetings and photo shoots are determined by when I can find a babysitter. Coffee breaks are quick caffeine gulps to help boost my mental stamina through days filled with picking up Little People Princess toys and stacking cups. It’s not quite the life of glamor I pictured. Any mom could have warned me about this, but I wouldn’t have listened to them until I experienced it myself.

I am often asked by older women if I absolutely love staying home during the day with my daughter. While the answer I usually give is an enthusiastic yes, the truth is that I really miss parts of the old life that I stepped away from. I miss coworkers who became great friends and provided lots of entertainment and social interactions throughout the day. I miss opportunities to have deeper intellectual discussions and to develop strategic plans as a team. I miss exercising this part of myself on a daily basis.

Would I go back to work and put my daughter in a great daycare center? Only if I desperately needed the finances from a steady corporate paycheck. Do I sometimes wonder if my daughter would be better off in a structured learning environment with lots of other kids with which to play and learn? I absolutely do. I’ve heard from other young moms that they struggle with the same thoughts. But I’ve been often told that I’m giving my daughter the best gift I can give her while I am at home. This is my honest struggle to find the balance between my desire to raise my daughter to be an awesome God-fearing and confident woman, and to make the sort of difference in the marketplace as a young(ish) professional woman here and now.

I don’t believe that either of these feelings are wrong. They are part of who I am and how God created me. After all, the woman in Proverbs 31 was a wife, mother, AND a business owner! However, when I find myself pushing the limits to be perfect in both areas, I feel choked and drained of life. Panic sets in as I struggle to meet my own expectations of the business person and the mother I want to be in addition to being an interesting, educated, put together, and fun woman. I want to be strong, rooted with a foundation in Christ, instead of being entangled and strangled by my own desires.

English Ivy is a beautiful plant that adds charm and character to gardens and nature. The plant weaves itself around trees, house walls, trellises, and anything it can reach. Ivy provides lovely shade and visual interest. However, untamed, English Ivy can actually choke and kill the plants and trees it attaches itself to. What looks like a lovely little refreshing plant actually can strangle trees, accelerate rot, attract mosquitoes, and weaken the structure of mature trees to fall down during storms. Despite it’s beauty, Ivy can be a threat.

I can’t help but draw the connection to my competing desires, aspirations, and expectations of myself. When I’m focused on whether or not I’m meeting my own expectations of my life, I weaken the structure of my strength and feel drained. The questions I need to ask in order to to check my spirit are: Are the expectations of myself the same that God has for me? Am I allowing myself to become unbalanced by letting the desires for success in business choke the mother in me? Or conversely, Am I becoming so wrapped up in being an overly- concerned mom that I’m neglecting my passions and other opportunities?

I don’t have an answer or solution to being able to ‘do it all’ successfully (or happily!). I’m a work in progress. We all have the same amount of time to work with each day. We all have areas in our lives that take up our time, whether you’re a mother or not. I will share the only thing I have found to be helpful with you… seek God in all things. Pray about your daily struggles. Open your Bible and actually read. Take the time to let your body rest. Seeking God will help you put your life in an eternal perspective. Don’t let your expectations of yourself choke your life away.

I’d love to learn how you find balance in your life as you fulfill all of your responsibilities, work on hobbies and dream! Please share your thoughts in a comment.