Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Juggling Act

I've seriously been trying to write this post for a month.  The fact of the matter is I haven't been able to write it because I've been learning to live it.

We are now a family of five, with three kids under three years old.  It's been two months, and we're starting to find our groove.  However, our groove is a fairly normal day, doing normal things but leaving pretty much no time for any extras... yet.

To finish this post, I left my husband to fend for himself putting all three kids down for bed as I escaped to the nearest coffee shop with his laptop.  He said the girls are in bed (but it wasn't smooth), and he and the boy are male bonding.  I'm not going to lie, I'm sort of smirking to myself, finally feeling like I know how to do something he doesn't yet.  But I'm pretty sure on his second try he will do better than my best effort because ya'll, he's seriously awesome at this Daddy business. (As I'm writing this he informed me that he got Zadok to fall asleep on his own, without being held.  See, what did I tell you? Captain Awesome.)

One word to best describe what our life has been like with three littles is juggling.  On my own during the day with two, I'm already out numbered but at least I have an arm to hold each of them. With three, well...

You get the idea.  So, while we were driving to Austin last month I looked up juggling to see just how appropriate the idea is for my life.  When I stumbled onto the wikiHow page for juggling, I was laughing so hard, I may have cried a little.

Allow me to teach you how to juggle your kids in seven easy steps.

We must start by understanding that "juggling is a challenging but rewarding hobby." Apparently it may be difficult to master at first, but it gets easier with practice after you've learned the basics.  Yup, so far it sounds exactly like parenting, except for that "hobby" part.  I think it's more of a hobby for grandparents as they can give the kids back when they're done playing.

1.)  The first step in learning how to juggle is to find balls that will not bounce a lot or roll away when they're dropped because it will save you a fair bit of running initially.  Are you giggling already? Newborns are an easy medium to start with as they stay put for you.  When we brought Zoe home as a walking toddler, there was certainly a lot of running!  Apparently adding a toddler to the family is for students ready to put in some extra leg work, literally.  It also mentions finding a good place to work in because in the beginning the balls will end up flying everywhere and you don't want to be near breakables.  This is where we introduce baby proofing to the house because balls and kids will most certainly be flying and falling... everywhere.

2.)  For the second step, you begin tossing one ball for a while "to get the feel of juggling." Toss that one ball from one hand to the other then progress by catching with the throwing hand. In other words, get used to having one kid for a while before you add any more.  For all of you with multiples, well, God must see you as talented so you can completely bypass this step.

3.)  In step three you practice a technique to make juggling smooth.  You have to scoop, or dip, your hand before tossing the ball.  And keep it shallow because it won't work if you scoop too deeply.  This step is when you are beginning to think about adding a second child to your family.  Before you commit, try babysitting a friend's kid along with your own.  See how the get along.  Or don't.

4.)  For the fourth step, you have two balls, one in each hand.  You may be outnumbered but you have a hand for each.  Toss the first one in the air and when it reaches the top of its arc, toss the second one. The instructions say to "practice this simple exchange" until it becomes comfortable.  It also mentions that at the top is key and gives you the most time for your next catch.  Which is apparently very important when you start working with 3, 4, and 5.  Um, slow down wikiHow, we're not ready to think about 3, 4, and 5.  We're still trying to figure out how to not drop the two that are wiggling out of control and refuse to be tossed in the air.

5.)  Step five is the step of commitment.  Those who have three kids must juggle.  It is no longer an option as you are out of hands.  The instructions tell us to "start out slowly, simply seeing how the three work together in the air in one rotation.  Juggling three is often a matter of understanding the balls' trajectories and how they intertwine.  For the majority of the time, one will be in the air while each hand has the other two."  This is where I am.  We have three.  We are committed.  There's no looking back.  I'm trying really hard not to drop anyone.  Occasionally it happens, and there are tears.  But we're starting to get the hang of everyone's trajectories and how they intertwine.  It's all about logistics and planning at this stage of the game.

6.)  We may be ready for the sixth step soon.  It's learning different methods and techniques for juggling three balls.  I guess when we start to feel comfortable, we'll try shaking things up and see how we do. Perhaps my first attempt at a new method will involve a public outing on my own with all three.  We've attempted a few very short outings but we're not quite ready for this as I nearly lost two girls in the swim suit racks at Target last week.

7.)  The seventh and final step is moving onto four and five balls.  WikiHow says for some, juggling four is simpler than three!  Hmmm... parents of four, do you agree with that? Maybe once you have three, you adopt the attitude "What's one more?"  I guess we have since our paperwork is done for our Ethiopia adoption, but we still have a couple years to master this three child business first.  It also mentions that juggling five balls is just like juggling three, but you have to move your hands a lot faster and you need to throw the balls higher. Of course.

But I think it wraps up juggling and parenting perfectly:
Keep practicing- it takes time and patience to master.
Amen wikiHow. Amen.

Perhaps if we follow these seven simple steps, we'll one day master the great parent juggling act. Maybe one day our parenting skills will match this crazy juggling awesomeness.