Diapers and Dressage – Is Life Balance a Thing?

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I've figured out that Chickadee is happy to graze while Babe eats lunch. Hazel loves to watch the other riders! By the time I'm ready to ride, she's ready to nap.

By Erin Tupper

Life balance.  That overused and seemingly unattainable trendy term every adult seems to have thoughts on.  I promise I’m not bitter!  I’m a very happy person.  But it feels so out of reach, I don’t know HOW to feel about the term.  I just know that sometimes all this talk about obtaining it, and how great it is when you find it, leaves me feeling even more like I’m a juggling school drop-out.

Here’s the thing.  All those smiling, happy people that talk about how great it is, or how easy it is now that they’ve obtained it, they’re TYPICALLY not horse girls.  Because I do know this.  As a crazy horse girl, I secretly don’t want balance.  I want my time largely skewed in favor of doing horsey things. 

Some of you are doing all the things and rocking it.  I’m truly happy for you!  But for me, it seems I can never quite get it right while doing everything as invested as I like to be. I don’t like doing things half-way.  I struggle with that.  Especially when I’m passionate about it!

As an adult, there are a few aspects that go into that.  Those balls in the air I’m really working on juggling.  Struggling to juggle!  

The other night, I drove home from the barn at 11PM.  It’s a 40 minute drive, and was almost 1 AM before I was in bed.  I wouldn’t change it!  I got to ride at sunset, watch fawns playing behind the pasture, had a glass of wine with friends, and I grazed my little project pony Chickadee for an hour.  It was the perfect “me” time, but a ball all the same.

My husband has remained supportive of my riding, which I fully credit to also making HIM a priority.  We love the outdoors and travel.  We really love trips that combine the two!  There have been times I have missed horse shows or fun horse girl outings in order to do something with him.  I also wouldn’t change this!  That being said… another ball to juggle!

Our first time down centerline in almost 2 years. I couldn’t have been happier! Chickadee was a rock star our first ride (sassiness ensued, but didn’t stop me from smiling)!

The baby.  If the other balls are tennis balls, she’s a medicine ball!  I don’t need to explain how in love with her I am.  That’s a given.  If I’m being honest, it’s been really difficult figuring how to juggle her and everything else.  Just when I think I have a routine figured out, it changes.  I’ve heard this is normal, but some days knowing that doesn’t change how hard it is.  

There’s my job.  I love it!  I feel incredibly fortunate for my boss, and the amount of support (and grace!) she has shown me pre and post pregnancy.  I used to work 40-50 hours a week; and now about half that.  When we discussed my maternity leave, I said I’d need three weeks before itching to get back… yeah, she smirked too.  

Life as an adult is hard.  Trying to juggle everything is really hard.  How does anyone achieve “life balance”?!

I can’t tell you how because I don’t know yet.  The other day, I was sobbing on my patio, struggling with the feeling of not giving enough to all the things I wanted to.  Like I was letting everyone down while trying to make everyone happy.  

I have figured out one thing.  Regardless of all the balls, make sure one is dedicated to your passion.  Make sure it stays in the air.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help with the rest.  Celebrate the small victories.  I had my first show post-baby.  It was while my husband was on a work trip.  I figured out the details and made it happen!  

Accept that some things change, but not forever. I used to love grooming for my trainer.  Having a baby changed that.  But you know what? My support team came together to help with babe and now I’m going to groom at Festival.  Victory!  

Cut yourself some slack.  Cut others some slack. Accept that balls will occasionally fall.  Figure out which two you need to start with, and slowly start adding in others.  Maybe we’ll master it someday!  At the very least, we can be there for each other along the way.

Read Erin’s other stories in the Diapers & Dressage Series: Diapers & Dressage, The Challenge of Getting Back in the Saddle, and Tough Choices & Heart Horses. You can follow Erin on her Instagram page @diapersanddressage.

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