Motherhood Survival Skill #151: Juggling
Two things about Brandy Bruce’s post make me laugh. One, every time I read her title, “Finding Joy in the Juggle of Mothering,” my eyes see juggle but my brain says jungle. Maybe that’s because sometimes “it’s a jungle out there” in motherhood land. The other thing about Brandy’s post is something I can laugh at now…but I certainly wasn’t laughing then. As soon as I finished reading her submission, I had to email Brandy and share my mom-alone-in-the-airport-with-a-kid story. I’ll let Brandy share her story with you, and I’ll save mine for another post! A big thank you to Brandy Bruce for taking the time to share this post with The MOM Journey today, especially since this is the eve of book launch for her latest novel, THE LAST SUMMER!
Finding Joy in the Juggle of Mothering
There’s something amazing about the magical gift women have to juggle. Work and relationships and laundry and meals and so much more. When children enter the picture, it sometimes feels like our juggling jumps to another level, doesn’t it? Laundry times one hundred. Snacks all day long. Finding missing toys or homework. Making sure they’re fed and reasonably clean and watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so they’re entertained while learning to count. (Okay, so that’s my current stage of life with my two-year-old.) And making sure we’re nourished (coffee counts) and reasonably clean as well!
When I think of literal juggling, I always smile and remember one of my early motherhood moments with my firstborn. My daughter was just an infant and we were flying alone, headed home from visiting family. Just the flying alone gave me anxiety! We were rushing through the airport and I had her in my arms, pressed against me, my hand protectively on her back, as I rushed down the long corridor to our gate. A diaper bag over one shoulder, a purse over the other, along with a small carry-on—it was a lot to juggle! Ashtyn was bouncing over my shoulder as I tried to make it in time to buy a bottle of water before boarding, knowing I’d need to make a bottle of formula soon. I purchased some water, made it to the gate with about two minutes to spare and sank down in the waiting area, utterly exhausted. I took a deep breath and glanced over at the person next to me. Her face took on a pinched expression as she said, “Um, do you know there’s vomit all down your back?”
No. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know. But there it was.
At that moment, I was an overwhelmed first-time mother. (And a few moments later, with a crying baby on a crowded airplane, I was instructing the college guy sitting next to me in how to mix formula and water for me. Whoever he was, he learned a lot on that trip.) Looking back now, with three kids to cart around, I wonder how I was overwhelmed with just one!
For all of us moms, literal and figurative juggling can be rough.
Somedays I want to slow everything down—push pause, put down the phone, play with the kids. And we need those days. But then the next day, the juggling comes back because, well, we still need meals and clean clothes and to find that one missing shoe. And as much as we want to savor the time we have, the days with our children tend to go fast.
Two years ago when my third child was born, I decided to take a break from my job as a book editor. I’d been working for a publisher for more than a decade, and during that third pregnancy, juggling had become a bit more difficult. The fatigue alone with pregnancy! So I finished work on a Friday, and my little Lillian was born on Monday. I knew I needed the break from work commitments, but you know what? I was still juggling life (with less sleep!). In truth, sometimes it helps to rearrange our schedules, take a step back, reevaluate. We need space on our calendars. But even with doing that, there are things to juggle. And I realized that there can and should be joy regardless. Joy in managing kids’ schedules and grown-up schedules. In penciling in coffee dates with friends or squeezing in time to make that work dinner. Whipping up a casserole for a friend who is sick or rushing to buy a birthday gift right before going to a party. It’s such an incredible blessing to have relationships to nurture and children to care for and a home to live in.
About a year after Lillian was born, I began to freelance and ease back into taking on projects here and there. And now that she’s two, I’ve started writing again, finding time to pursue my passion. I have a new book releasing in June and I’m so thrilled I can hardly put my joy into words. This book has been twenty years in the making! I wrote the first draft during my first year of college (which feels like a lifetime ago). And now, twenty years later, it’s going to make its way into the hands of readers. Even for busy moms with long to-do lists, dreams can come true.
It’s a fact that writing and doing all the other things I need to do daily takes quite a bit of juggling.
We can do things. We can know when we need to stop—take a breath—and when we’re ready to jump back in. I was in the thick of a freelance edit a few months ago, and one of my girlfriends offered to watch Lily for a couple of hours when I hit the final stretch. We can help each other. It’s okay to ask for help.
One of the most beautiful aspects of mom friendships is the mutual understanding of the emotional and physical exhaustion that can sometimes come with motherhood. You can vent to each other about how your kids are making you crazy, then in the next breath, gush with pride over something your child did or said recently. There’s no need to explain. She knows.
With that understanding, helping each other, supporting each other, loving each other (along with our spouses of course), just adds joy as we juggle life. Whoever first said that the years go fast but the days are long definitely understood the laundry situation at my house!
We don’t have to do everything perfectly in the motherhood, and we all have days where the struggle feels like too much. You’re never alone in that. But with God’s help, we can learn to juggle pretty well. Because loving our people and doing life together are gifts to embrace.
BRANDY BRUCE is a mom, a wife, a book editor, an author, and someone who really loves dessert. She’s the author of the novels Looks Like Love, The Romano Family Collection, and The Last Summer (June 2017 release). Between freelance editing, writing novels, taking care of her wonderful and energetic three children, and squeezing in a date night here and there with her husband, Brandy’s smackdab in the center of juggling motherhood and everything else. Brandy, her husband, and their children make their home in Colorado.
If you would like to connect with Brandy, here are all your options: Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Be sure to check out Brandy’s website, and click here to find out more about THE LAST SUMMER, which releases tomorrow!