Spinning Plates

(originally in Abilene Families magazine)

The glow of my laptop pierces the darkness like a beacon, beckoning a weary mom come and work. Finally a moment of silence, though I was forced to arise in the 5’s, a ridiculous hour to try to think coherently. I can hear the whir of fans, the hum of a refrigerator. A baby cries out in the room next door.

A speaking engagement has called me away for the weekend to the far reaches of East Texas. So far east I believe that I could throw a rock and have it land in Louisiana, in fact. Pine trees embrace the road, the hills roll by lush green fields until a lake appears. In other words, nothing like the charred, barren dessert I left behind.

This is a remote place, this woodsy escape. If I hold my cell phone in the air reception seems to improve. This is terrifically inconvenient, as between speaking times I have been trying to negotiate a contract to buy a house. So I found a high spot to stand on, called home to talk numbers, dates, closings, and contracts at a volume that frightens wildlife.

Living the dream.

My momma called it spinning plates. I call it juggling knives. Whatever you call it, you know it because you do it too. You are surely in the middle of a season of doing more than seems possible or wise to accomplish at one time.

The fate of mothers is to coordinate a list of appointments, programs, jobs, meetings, repairs, and conferences. It is a blessing and a calling. A temptation and a curse to clutter the life beyond a manageable pace. A way of life I slip into easily, yet chafe against.
Moms become expert plate-spinners/ knife-jugglers out of necessity. If you can change a DVD while starting dinner and putting Barbie’s prom dress on all while on the phone rescheduling a meeting for work, it’s just another day at the office for most moms. Then there is the nagging feeling that it is never enough. We must form the parade to honor the pets, throw the party for our friend’s special birthday, and never forget the whales. Or the hungry. Or to recycle.

Woe when a plate gets dropped: someone gets sick, an appointment runs long, a repair person doesn’t show up on time (okay, that’s a gimme), or a last minute meeting gets scheduled or needs to be rearranged, or... you just need some extra cuddle time and a pajama day.

I try to embrace such interruptions as reminders that life goes on betwixt and between the crazy-making busy-ness, but too often there is huffing and eye-rolling and slamming about the necessity to rearrange my schedule. I’m a slow learner.

It might be that all the plates drop when a major event -- a diagnosis, an accident, news of the good or bad variety -- causes all of the other spinning plates to be inconsequential.

As the sun climbs up the trunks of the pines in this East Texas locale I close my laptop, finished for the moment with the writing part of my job for the day. My mind is already pinballing through my day, my week, and the month ahead to calendars to coordinate, programs to attend, and obstacles to hurdle.

If I am to maintain my SuperMom cape, I have to be ready for anything at a moment’s notice!

Oh... who am I kidding? We all know I’m doing well to make it to the end of the day having fed and hugged everyone. If we show up where we are supposed to be within 15 minutes of the start time it’s an added bonus. Sometimes the wisest thing a mom can do is know her limitations.

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