Juggling Work and Motherhood

by Shannon Penrod

Being a Mom who works from home is a lot like learning how to juggle.  Years ago I was taught how to juggle by the head instructor of the Barnum and Bailey clown school, that’s true, not a joke.  Learning to juggle is not an overnight process.  First you have to get used to the feel and the weight of the balls, then you get a feel for the rhythm of a three ball juggle by rolling the balls on the floor with a partner.  Eventually you start to toss the balls into the air, at first there is a lot of dropped balls but you stand close to a wall to minimize drops and bending over time.  Gradually you get the hang of it. 

Once you have the three ball juggle you learn passing with a partner and then you begin adding more and more balls in until you loose your desire for complication.

It occurred to me today that this has exactly been the arc of my working as a virtual assistant for Motherhood Incorporated.  I started out slowly and got a feel for what I was doing. Gradually I started to handle multiple projects, getting a sense for the necessary timing so that everything could be completed in a timely manner while my household continued to function. 

The three balls were my work, my house and motherhood.  There are times now when I can get all three balls smoothly in the air. Sometimes I even get oohs and ahhs from the crowd; but I’ll be honest I still have balls drop from time to time.  I know from learning to juggle from the best that this is to be expected. Balls will drop, but they must be picked right back up.  No one learns to juggle without dropping balls.

And now I am learning how to pass and add other balls into the mix.  Some days it seems more like a shower of balls cascading onto the floor, but I have seen the future and it is a sea of well juggled balls, smoothly sailing past my head, in and out of my hands, past my clean kitchen, into the hands of another mom, past my smiling child and into a client’s computer.  MMMMM!  I like the picture.  Surely it’s worth a few dropped balls to get there.