Monday, May 9, 2011

the fourth ball

Believe it or not, I used to be quite the juggler.

I could ride a unicycle or balance board, juggle rings or pins, and do pretty much any pattern with three balls.

And you guys wonder why I wasn't Homecoming Queen, right?

I also had a Dorothy Hamill wedge haircut. Yeah.

Anyway, there was one juggling feat I could never quite master.

Four balls.

Three made sense. Whether it was a shower, a cascade, columns, or chase, three balls were a piece of cake. Add in a fourth one, and I just fell apart. It never worked out. There was never a good place for it. And it made me slightly insane and supremely panicked.

My life is like that a lot now.

Even though I keep more than three balls in the air-- kids, husband, parents, grandparents, work, writing, editing, friends, reading, sleep, exercise, diet, housekeeping-- for some reason, right now, I feel like I just can't figure out where the fourth ball goes, like I'm constantly dropping something or leaving early or appearing slightly batty.

I clean every day, but I can't keep up with the house. I'm always forgetting something important at the store-- hello, diapers. And there always seems to be smoke in the air from something I'm cooking. I don't feel like an adult-- I feel like Christina Applegate in Don't Tell Mom, The Babysitter's Dead, and I would really just love to go sit on the roof and throw the plates off one by one before shooting them.

I think, for lots of us, this is simply life with small children. It takes so much bandwidth to keep them safe, fed, active, and relatively tidy that we're always missing something. Especially when I'm writing or focusing on my own thoughts, the external stuff just goes to crap. I get to a point where I realize I haven't seen my friends for a week and don't have any clean shirts and we're out of paper towels and using socks to clean the counter and I just think-- CRAP, IT'S THAT CURSED FOURTH BALL!

But of course, the actual fourth ball is the writing, the thinking for myself. I concentrate so hard on the fourth ball that I drop the other three. Oops.


So I'm curious.

Does anybody else have a fourth ball?

The one thing that sends you over the edge?

Tell me I'm not the only one with limited juggling skills.


blair said...

the fourth ball in my life is work. when work gets too busy, all the rest of it just starts to unravel. as shameful as it is to admit it, i don't think i've made up our bed in atleast a week. oops.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

I hate when I look up and it's three o'clock in the afternoon and I think, "Oh, hell. I forgot to feed the kid again."

And that's not even when I'm writing. When I'm writing, it's, "Oh, crap. I forgot. I have a kid."

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Geesh, I can't even get a third ball in the air.

And yeah, unfortunately, my "fourth ball" is myself. I need a haircut, a pedicure, a good back massage since I can't move my neck, a bunch of doctors' appts, and, honestly, a shower.

But, I'll get the work done first, figure out the kids lessons, do the laundry, wash the floors, chat with my husband, etc---so everyone thinks I have it all together.

But, I know better.

delilah, the unruly helpmeet said...

Wait, I'm supposed to make the bed?

Crap. How did I not get the instructional manual?

Anonymous said...

I just have the two balls, but they'er mighty big: Taking care of myself and my wife. We're still trying to recover from our frantic lives in DC and are working on becoming human again.

Anonymous said...

My fourth ball is my car. It looks like i hoard BUT I'M NOT A HOARDER DAMMIT.

I just can't manage to bring the junk that piles up into the house because I'm already carrying the work stuff the groceries the mail and shepherding the kids and now just thinking about it i feel the pain in my neck.

EttyOop said...

my fourth ball is probably kids' activities? My life is a mess, my house is never clean, and any time i think "oh! we're out of school uniforms!" i am suddenly distracted by SOMETHING else that has to get done and needs my attention right then and there.

actually, life in general is my fourth ball. one day last week, i took out my migraine meds (preventatives i take every day so i don't end up getting horrible killer migraines as often) and was about to pop em in my mouth. got distracted by something or other. got a text from my husband when i was almost at work "ummm did you mean to leave your medicine out on the counter?"

but this is frequent for me. It's just... life. Yeah, probably because of the small kids. It's a lot. I think it happens to most of us.

Virginia Valerie said...

Still trying to bring a 3rd ball into the mix. :-)

Kate Hart said...

"Not enough bandwidth" is the perfect description of my head space these days.

stephanie constantin said...

I still can't manage two balls much less four! I see all these super productive successful moms and feel like a total clown not a juggler! I shall go find my violin now...