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.
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.