Quite a few years back, my very wise grandmother told me the key to juggling everything is to know which balls bounce and which balls break. “As long as you’re keeping the important stuff moving, letting a few things drop isn’t going to be the end of the world.” Granted, my grandmother is the kind of woman who, at 80, was scrubbing her kitchen ceiling just a few weeks after open heart surgery. I’m pretty sure she could handle whatever you threw at her and ask for more.
I am not my grandmother.
And did I mention, I don’t know how to juggle?
It’s the end of September. I should be settling into the routine. I know library day is Thursday. I know the days they have gym. Violet needs to bring her flute on Mondays and Wednesdays and gym clothes Mondays and Thursdays. I know the checklist I have to rundown with each of them in the morning because their brains are full of thoughts that don’t include “jacket for recess”.
The problem is my brain is also full of thoughts and instead of my inner monologue saying, “It’s Monday, remind Violet to pack her flute and the gym clothes.” It says, “It’s Monday. Dear god, I need to take the dog to the vet and I need to get to the grocery store. And don’t forget to pick up Abram’s medicine. And make sure to wash his jersey so it’s ready for tomorrow. And Jesse has a meeting tonight so be sure to tell Violet she needs to hurry up after swim so Abram can get to bed at a decent time. And look at the time” and then I’m yelling, “GUYS, WE NEED TO GO!!! LOAD UP!” and the flute gets left at home.
Please don’t be one of those people who talk to me about packing everything up the night before, because our evening rituals of school work, dinner, sports activities, getting ready for bed, and trying to get to bed at a decent time are busy enough. Changing what time of day the monologue goes off in my head doesn’t solve the problem.
In the midst of all of this, I’m fighting a severe case of bitterness. I don’t know why it’s hitting so hard but it’s a constant drumbeat in my head. “I need more joy. I need something just for me. I need to feel smart and valuable and important and seen. I’m so tired of being everyone else’s. I want to be MINE.”
That ball filled with the dreams, ambitions, and goals that are *just for me* is waiting to be picked up but I’m scared. Scared to throw it into the mix because I’m scared of dropping it again. It’s dented and cracked and so much more fragile than it used to be. With so many other precious things to keep moving and a penchant for picking it up only to let it fall again, maybe it’s just easier to leave it on the ground?
I know this isn’t new. Our mothers and grandmothers had these same conversations and with fewer options. I know that in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, my concerns are somewhere toward the top which in and of itself is a blessing. But the drum is still beating and I’m still trying to keep all the balls in the air and staring at the one I’m too scared to pick up.
When is it safe? When is it unselfish? What can I let fall to pick *me* back up?
I don’t know if there is a good answer, but I’m looking for it.