The irony is not lost. As I juggle I forget all that I am juggling. The kids, the husband, the writing, the website all disappear into the concentration of the catch.
I have been practicing juggling for many laborious weeks without getting to the point that I could say I can juggle. All those clowns make it look like a breeze while they scare the shit out of children just trying to have fun at a party.
For years I have wanted to know how to juggle. No reason other than it looks so badass. I asked, repeatedly for juggling balls for Christmas and they didn’t come. This year, I sent the link as a more subtle hint, and they were in my stocking. I began combing YouTube for guidelines on getting those balls tamed. I mastered, quite easily the tricks with two balls and knew I was ready to graduate. But here’s the thing. I don’t think I was ready.
I was speaking with a friend recently about how when our children were toddlers and babies we could juggle more, not babies because that is cruel, but items on our to-do list. We stayed at home and seemed to get more done. Now that our children are older, you’d think I’d have an exorbitant amount of time to put towards my to-do list. You’d be wrong.
I think as my interest in juggling grew, my interest in juggling waned. Stick with me.
Even though the items on my to-do list got crossed off with an enthusiasm that can only be described as insane, I’m not sure I remember any of it when the kids were small. Sure, sleep deprivation played a role, but I got chores done because I had to, not because they created any joy in my life. Now, I am taking more time for each item on my list and bringing the pleasure in. Did you know even laundry can be fulfilling? I love folding a basket of clean laundry and distributing it to my family’s bed for putting away. I feel like it shows them I love them without them rolling their eyes. I feel appreciated even when it isn’t said. Dinners are the same. Not every night, but many nights I know that what is on their plates will stimulate conversation, appreciation, and give them the strength to grow, learn, and become who they will be.
Hey, enlightened every minute of the day, I am not. I get frustrated, disillusioned, angry on the same days I fold laundry. But, it is the moments when the balls are all in my hands, and they don’t need to be in the air, that I realize juggling is a metaphor for to do lists and for life. Juggling is hard, and you can never really know if the catch will happen as planned. Holding the balls is the only time you are really in control.
Holding your daily moments as precious even when they are mundane is a trick worth paying money to learn. It is easy to enjoy the fun, harder to see the beauty in that clean kitchen counter strewn with school items that were haphazardly dumped from their bags without ceremony. But if you look at those items on that counter and what they represent, it is beautiful. We created a world for our children that allow them to be comfortable laying their lives in front of us, on display. They are not ashamed of their mess, they are not shy to share their day’s toils. What a gift to be present in that moment. The time of day when the shields come down and the river of words flow freely. Real sharing happens when you are being present in the mundane of the moment. The car ride, the dish duty, making the bed together. When the chore becomes the blank canvas for connection, there is beauty. The balls aren’t in the air, they are firmly planted in the hands that feed them, comfort them, serve them, and wipe away those tears. The same hands that used to rejoice in crossing items off a list are now making an effort to make the list count. Our daughter leaves for university in less than a year. Those hands will become the ones that reach for the phone in the middle of the night to FaceTime a girl with a problem that only her mother can help with. Slow down and concentrate on the catch.
Is it crazy that I learned I don’t like to juggle as I learned to love juggling? Ironic, yes, mad as a clown at a children’s birthday party, also yes.
My Turning 50 Like a Boss Tip: Just when you thought you had all the balls, there is another to catch. It is okay if sometimes you just hold on to them.
Check out the video: Catch What You Can