As a recovering handless maiden, maybe one with silver hands or new but very small hands, how do I juggle all there is to hold in my life without losing myself? Currently, my oldest child (17) is in crisis again and I feel as though my days are mostly chasing after the other balls in my life so I can tend to the child and keep the world of our family from falling apart. I’ll name some of these balls for my own benefit:
a fragile relationship with my husband
2 other children
errands like shopping, appointments, and getting the kids to and from school, going to the food bank once a week
a house that barely gets tidied, let alone cleaned
my shaky mental health (and I’m currently in a 6 week stretch of no therapy appointments)
my unstable physical health which includes uncontrolled seizures and the fog and pain of fibromyalgia
my creative life (I’m rapidly realizing the business I tried to start will never get the energy or attention it needs to take off)
my activist life (in the shadow of an increasingly uncertain and fascist government)
Those are the major balls I try to juggle and sometimes I fumble through it with a little grace but right now the balls are mostly falling to the ground and I’m frantically kicking them back up into the air or sometimes under the couch where I find them two weeks later covered in the dust of neglect. Honestly, even as I write these words I feel a ton of empathy for myself. How on earth would anyone, let alone someone with chronic physical and mental illness expect to keep up with even a third of these balls? That leads me to my next thoughts which are:
“Why do I try?! I should pick 2 and leave the rest behind.”
OK. Let’s play the game of What if I did Pick 2?:
I can’t not deal with my mental health. Nor can I set aside managing my epilepsy and fibromyalgia. But I don’t want to live without the joy and connection I experience with my husband and children. Oh, and I’ve tried giving up my creative life; that ended with me feeling bitter towards my family because I wasn’t giving myself the space and tenderness of creating. And, if I don’t take action against injustice my children will grow up in a world that is deadly to Jews, the poor, those who are neurodiverse and/or disabled, and those who are gay, trans, and/or gender queer. My oldest would probably end up dead if I didn’t do everything I can to help them. I can’t raise a family without taking care of all the medical and psychiatric appointments, school requirements and shopping. And none of us can exist without food. I didn’t even include my very tiny social life as a ball.
Looking back over the list of balls I realize the one thing I could probably drop more regularly is cleaning the house. That’s just going to clear up so much space and energy in my life (insert sarcasm into the previous sentence please).
That was a stupid game.
So the answer to the question, how does a handless maiden juggle?
She doesn’t do it well. That’s not meant to be disparaging. I think it’s just a truth I need to accept.
Here’s an example of this disjointed juggling:
I got up this morning at 6 to get my kids ready for school and prepare for a long day of appointments that will end in a late evening Tai Chi class. When I got home from dropping everyone off I realized I was feeling very emotional. I decided to take some time to write and try to sort out what I’m experiencing right now (always a good idea but especially so right now because don’t have access to my therapist). Over the summer my husband and I instituted a morning ritual called 20 Minutes of Cuddling (I highly recommend this, by the way). Last week it didn’t happen because we were in the midst of trying to stabilize our oldest kid. The morning cuddling ritual has become very important to our relationship as it gives us a foundation of closeness for the coming day. That way, if things get wild and we don’t get a chance to connect, there’s at least those few moments of intimacy that ripple out into the day. This morning I really needed to take care of myself by writing so I went into the bedroom and told my husband I needed to do that instead of cuddling. I’ll have to check in with him later today but I feel like I could feel his disappointment that I was choosing my emotional health over him. Maybe it’s guilt I’m feeling and it’s all my own stuff. Whatever it was, I feel sad and worried now because I dropped one ball in favor of another.
What am I going to do? No one ball gets enough of my attention when there are so many balls that need to stay up in the air?