"It's like spinninng plates," my mom would always say, referring in those days to the challenge of writing my major research paper on the Warsaw Ghetto AND completing the oral presentation project for English Class. Referencing the difficulties of "managing" student teaching AND my job as a part-time Athletic Trainer.
She would listen intently as I went on and on and ON about how "busy" I was and how "tired" I was and how "overwhelmed" I felt. She would wait patiently on the other end of the phone until I was finished with my rant and say in a soothing voice, "Oh sweetie, it's like spinning plates."
In those days my mind would conjur up an image of an acrobat, a stage performer. A single person standing alone in a great open space concentrating on nothing, save for the ten or so plates balancing perilously on long, thin poles.
I used to think of myself as the acrobat, alone on stage. I used to picture myself keeping everything spinning. I felt terrified of what would happen if one of the plates dropped.
Mother, teacher, runner, writer. Full-time working, part-time wife-ing, never enough time sleeping.
And then one day, one of the plates fell. It came floating down, riding on currents of air. It landed lightly on the ground, unscathed.
That plate was made of paper.
And now I know.
Mother of three, number four on the way, I fight for five square inches of my own bed. I run ragged from home to work and back again. I consider and weigh out the precious time that a shower will take versus just trying to wrestle my hair into a presentable arrangement.
Yet I worry not because now I know.
Simply spinning plates isn't impressive. It is what a person does WHILE spinning the plates that impresses me.