Friday, November 22, 2013

Juggling Act

November 22, 2013

I have really got to learn to stop playing the comparison game.  One of the downfalls of surrounding myself with fantastic people is that--well, they're all fantastic.  Sometimes it feels a little like treading water in the kiddie pool while watching Olympic hopefuls work out in the real pool beside me.

I look around me and I see my sister, who has a hundred advanced college degrees and is a super foster mom, in addition to be an incredible mom to her own three girls.

Or my brother, who runs marathons to raise awareness for causes and is a devoted family man who runs a Catholic Charities thrift store and food bank.

Or my other sister, who writes and performs her own work and who has been actively engaged in several comedy troupes.

Or my husband, who is one of the most fiercely intelligent people I know, and who has musical talent and knowledge I will never have.

Or my dear friends who seamlessly and seemingly effortlessly corral their toddlers while creatively entertaining them (and keeping them dressed fabulously at the same time).

Or my good friend whose quick wit and sharp mind make her not only fantastically funny, but undeniably knowledgeable about just about any topic I could come up with.

Or my friends who run not only one but two very successful businesses while raising little ones, doing things in their twenty-four hours a day that would take most the rest of us 48 hours a day.

Or my friends who are amazing performers--actors and singers with unbelievable talent.  Or my colleagues who educate and fascinate and inspire their students to want to be something more than ordinary.  Or my friend who has published his novel. Or my friends who are consummate hostesses, or gourmet cooks, or are accomplished artists or effortless empathetic givers and caretakers of all those who surround them.

I'm none of those things.  Oh, on a good day I'm some of these things, for a little bit at a time.  Mostly, though, I'm just sitting here trying to juggle everything without letting things fall. (And no, I'm don't know how to juggle, actually.  That would be cool.  Nope, it's just a metaphor.) I mean really, I'm just trying to make sure I remember to give the kids lunch money and that I manage to walk out the door without food spilled down the front of my dress or an errant run in my tights.  Some days, the best I can do is, "Well, I made it through without doing too much damage.  I think."  My house needs cleaning, I struggle to keep up with all the papers I have to grade, and though I like to cook, sometimes Mac n' Cheese is what I have the energy for. And household finances?  That's a juggling act all on its own. I weigh too much, don't exercise enough, and am often secretly embarrassed for my husband that I'm not a cuter, perkier me standing beside him.  I wonder when my kids are adults and start families of their own, how will they remember their growing up years?  How will they think back on their childhood?  It's the most important job I have, but really, there's no objective way of knowing whether or not you've done the job right, you know?  Is it enough? 

In the end, it has to be.  It has to be enough, because that's what I've got right now.  I can't keep comparing myself to everyone else because mired in what I'm NOT doing paralyzes me into not doing what I'm already doing.  It's counter-productive.  It's a deer-in-the-headlights kind of effect.  Know what happens to a deer-in-the-headlights who was only moments before juggling?  Well, she finds all the objects she was juggling crashing about her on the floor.  It's not pretty.  Kind of messy, actually.  Almost as messy as this randomly mixed metaphor.  Point is, sometimes I have to remember that a juggling deer is pretty cool.  She doesn't need to look around and compare herself to everyone else around her.  She's doing the best she can, and that's okay.