Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Juggling Act

I wrote this a few months ago, and never pushed "publish."  I revisited it today for some reason, probably because motherhood is kicking my trash this week and I needed the inspiration. 

I groan and roll over to silence the bleating alarm.  It’s 5:30 am. Between my anxiety-riddled dreams, soothing the two year old who was inexplicably awake three times during the night, and getting kicked repeatedly in the ribs by the four-year old who firmly believes Mommy and Daddy’s bed is his bed, I had closed my eyes for good about 4am.

Bleary eyed, I step in the shower, silently chanting my morning mantra: “Being tired never killed anyone. I will feel like a person if I can just make it to 10:00am. I will not die simply because it’s early morning.”
By 6:15 am, my household is reluctantly stirring, my makeup is hastily applied, and my first violin student of the day is beginning an E-flat major scale in the violin studio. I hit my knees in the dark living room, the shrieks of my boys’ first morning brawl echoing down the stairs.

“Dear Father,” I plead, “I’m not sure I have the energy to do this today. Please help me to be patient and kind to my children, even when I don’t want to be. Bless me with the energy and the stamina I need to get through this day.”


My second student of the day has just started tuning her violin when the studio door opens. My daughter, doubling as my babysitter this morning, is holding my four year old son by the hand.  “Mommy, my ear hurts,” he whimpers.

I excuse myself from the lesson, taking a brief look in my son’s ear to confirm yet another raging ear infection. I convince my poor, feverish son to take a syringe full of ibuprofen and hurry to place a call to the pediatrician. My sweet boy has never met an ear infection he didn’t have to have, and no run-of-the-mill course of antibiotics ever comes close to clearing the massive infections. The nurse gives me the last appointment of the day so I can still drive my daughter to her own violin lesson fifty miles away, then teach two more lessons in my studio, all before I have to leave for the appointment.

I choke back the bitter taste of guilt as I tuck a blanket around my little boy, turn on Phinneas and Ferb to help babysit, and head back to the violin studio, wondering how many more ear infections my son will get before the doctors start talking about a third set of ear tubes. While my student is perfecting her etude, my stomach is churning, knowing there’s no way we’ll be able to afford yet another surgery, especially now that we have no health insurance.


The guilt, the stretching and pulling in seventeen different directions, they are my constant companions. I could be a better mother if I didn’t have 22 violin students. I could be a better teacher if my students were the only thing I had to focus on. Days like this are a long walk across a tightrope strung over a pit of snarling lions: one slip-up, one late baby sitter, one dead van battery and it’s going to get ugly really fast.


There are other times too. The times when the teenager, who has struggled with crippling stage fright for years, has a brilliant recital performance and her smile lights up every corner of the recital hall.  The times where a young violinist and her mother beam with unexpected pride when they realize they’ve achieved something remarkably difficult. The moments when I giggle, witnessing my two sons wrestling like puppies on the living rooms floor. The day when my violinist daughter plays her Bach Partita so brilliantly and musically that it takes my breath away, leaving me in awe with tears in my eyes, despite the lunch debris spread all over the counter and the little brothers squabbling at a deafening volume.  Those are the times that remind me. This. This is what I’m supposed to do. This is where I belong. This is who I am.

So I’ll continue walking the tightrope, hitting my knees in the dark of the morning hours to plead for help, and ignoring the ever-present baskets of clean and dirty laundry.  I’ll mother, nurture, teach, guide, make music, chauffer kids to doctor appointments, rehearsals, and question my sanity daily.  I’ll giggle until my cheeks hurt with my kids around the dinner table, and I’ll stay up too late enjoying the only quiet moments in the day. And I’ll cry, and sing, teach, bandage scrapes, pray, and then hope against hope that it’s enough. For my students, for my children. For me. For God.


  1. This was stunningly beautiful. I don't have the same kinds of pressures you do, but I definitely feel that sense of " how can I possibly do all of this?" and "I sure hope this is enough". We're about four days from starting our school year (with one of those days being Sunday, one of those being an extremely busy Saturday, and the other being an extremely fun but busy Monday). I am freaking out because there is so much still to prepare, discouraged because summer is now over and a huge portion of what I needed to get done has not been done and now probably won't be done for nine more months. I'm just trying to trust that it will all be OK, that I will somehow magically get the energy for another year of homeschool by early next week, and that the beautiful moments that make it all worth it will start to appear.

  2. Stacy....
    Does Max suffer from ear infections often? I always did, too. I know that kids get ear infections. It is common. But I wonder if there is some correlation between being born a "Cranio" kid and ear infections? It is all in the head.... ;)
    I appreciated this post!! I may not be a Mom, but we watch my energetic ten-year old cousin, who I love as though he is my own. There are moments, like you described, where I have to literally ask God for patience!! ;-D

  3. Stacy....
    Hi!! I created another Blog today--just for diverse Writing Projects!!--check it out at this address, if you would like!! ;) .


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