January 7, 2003 Last night, Michael was on the phone. I heard him say, “Mom’s juggling.” The next words I heard were, “Don’t ask.”
This is for my son Michael, in case he never asks.
Why Mom Juggles
I started juggling between 1986 and 1988. I remember because we were in the Ashboro East house, in Summerville. Jason, your brother, and I knelt in the floor of the den, team juggling. (Yes, we threw balls in the house. Remember? We always threw balls in our house, we just threw them carefully.) Jason picked up juggling faster than I, even though he was a child. As did you.
When I first started, and for about the first year, I’d drop a ball and GRRRR I would get so angry at myself, I’d fly mad. It was so frustrating. Why did I drop that ball? Stupid! Why are you even trying to juggle! You have no talent. Why you’re a thirty-something mother… What are you trying to prove? I’d pick up the balls and start again. Eventually, a dropped ball was just a dropped ball.
After our marriage / family broke up I found some solace in juggling. Besides shutting out the “what ifs” I could get three balls, representing motherhood, career, and life, going and keep them going for a little while. Dropped balls were part of the act. I picked them up and tried again. I would never be a good juggler, but I would be better than I had been. Sometimes you have to try and try again.
Juggling quiets my active mind. When I’m working with the balls I don’t do anything else. There are no schedules, no worries, no problems, no fears. I am occupied fully. It’s a meditation of sorts and I continue to try, even though with my reflexes and coordination I will never be good at it. But it’s not perfection I’m striving for. Like all of us, I have to work with what I’ve got. Wishing my reflexes were better, will not make one iota of difference.
Someday, I may become an adequate juggler, yet whether I do or not is not the point. The point is that I will not quit. I will not quit because of ridicule, (although the older I get the more ridiculous it seems.) I will not quit because of doubt, will not quit to use my time in a manner deemed more productive by others. I set my own course, whether it makes sense to anyone else or not. I am determined. Not to be the best juggler the world has ever seen, but just to be better than I was. I had to start with one ball. This is the standard of measure I hold for myself, not to compare myself with others, not to be competitive, not to be recognized, but for myself, to be better than I was, to accept what I was given and to make the best of it.
Motherhood, career and life. Like a three ring circus with acts coming and going, all at the same time. I may not succeed brilliantly in any of the three arenas, but I brought what I had to the ring. I juggle and juggle poorly. Someday you might remember, I kept trying and didn’t quit.
Essay added to blog 9/15/2013 Still juggling poorly, but who’s counting?