What to do when you can’t juggle?

One of the people I follow on Social Media had a nice piece of writing in which he used the metaphor of juggling for teaching. The article is in Dutch (too bad, as it is very interesting, and the word itself jongleren is already great by itself: jong meaning young and leren can be translated as educating, how appropriate!), and I would love to tell you all about it, but the purpose of me mentioning this, is the metaphor of juggling. (in case you do want to check it out, click here.)

Last February I went to the Netherlands and participated in a training given by this same guy. Right now I sincerely wished he had also taught me how to juggle in addition to all the other very useful information I learned that week.

Because, here is my confession: I think I am trying to keep too many balls in the air, while I have no clue how to juggle.

‘Me-time’ seems a word of the past since I started working full-time. And as I work at the same school as my children are attending, I am with kids from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, even on my commute to and from work.

This is not a piece meant as one big pathetic complain, but how do people do it?

Household, three (pre)teenagers with a variety of activities (piano lessons. orchestra, track and field, swimming, just to name a few), healthy home-made meals, clean and folded clothes, after school and weekend transportation from and to friends, house rental business on the side.

I haven’t taken the time to work-out or even to go for a walk. Mail is piling up. You can start seedlings on my kitchen floor. I have so many ideas in my head, but can’t get a word on paper. No poem, blog or piece of writing has been generated for a while.

The signs are there: I have been using a certain kind of medication for over 15 years now and never forgot to take it until recently.  My eczema has been under control for years and suddenly flares up again. I am known as a punctual person, but have been late for appointments recently. And I can’t seem to shake this lingering cold!

I kept thinking of this ‘juggling piece’ and I know I am definitely trying to keep more balls in the air than I can handle.

The question is how can I let go of a few and which ones?

I have worked before while having kids, millions of people combine work and kids, so why am I having trouble?

Uhm, maybe because I am the kind of person that wants to do everything she does perfectly. And being perfect is hard, even if I was a great juggler.

So instead of learning to juggle, maybe I should learn to accept that slightly crooked folded towels (done by my teenage son) are fine too. That not every meal has to be ‘Martha Stewart-style’ and that sometimes sandwiches for dinner is okay (or a not-so-healthy meal made with love by my 13-year old).  That it is fine to say to my kids that I can only bring them to their friends or pick them up at certain times rather than be available per their request (or even say -no- sometimes). That is it okay for me to read a book while I told my kids to clean the bathroom. And that it doesn’t make me a bad mom if I miss a track and field meet once in a while.

So I dropped all the balls, talked to my family over dinner and together we made a plan. They all would chip in and I would communicate my needs better. I went to bed that night feeling a bit better and didn’t even have any bad dreams about my poor juggling performances.

And guess what? I discovered that the world still goes around with dirty dishes in the sink.

Edith Schriever

About Edith Schriever

I am a Maine-igrant from the Netherlands. While my scientist husband fell in love with the beautiful research institute here, I fell in love with Mount Desert Island. Mountains, ocean, wild life, peace and quiet! A culture change? Yes, a bit. Americans are not at all like the Jerry Springer audience I saw on TV when living in the Netherlands, well, at least not everyone. Portions are big and toilets small and low; I have learned to embrace the cultural differences.