OHBD 2015

OHBD 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Balancing is Like Juggling: Dropping Things is Part of Perfecting the Art

I find when I am distracted or need to focus on something new, I can no longer maintain my hard won balancing act.  When I went through an international move – new country, new role, new home, new most everything.  I found myself often frustrated I couldn't seem to accomplish what I was able to before.  Writing only happened occasionally.  My motivation to exercise and eat right seems to have fled or at least gone into hibernation.

When I found a moment for a bit of yoga at home, some clarity appeared while I studiously maintained a "down dog."  I could hear the voice of my amazing instructor who I have not seen in too long, echoing in my head – “be kind to your body, be kind to yourself.”  I realized I had unrealistic expectations of myself (okay probably of others too).  I need to admit when big changes happen something has to give.  I wasn’t a failure. But like the juggler, I needed to find a new rhythm to work in the additional objects or juggle the existing ones in a new environment.  Easier said than done for me.  I feel accomplished when I can cross stuff off a list whether on paper or in my head.  But I am trying to re-program my thinking. 

My three kids started a new school at the same time -- an international one.  It was a big change for all – for my teenager because high school is a tough place to start over, for my pre-teen because so is middle school, and for my youngest because this was her first real school experience (which she was pretty excited about as you can see).

Leyla's first day of school at ISL
My husband was out of town that week and not optimistic about the overall outcome with me in charge.  But I assured him I was up for it (although I was less certain in my own mind).  I reviewed my calendar and pushed off what I could.  And I scheduled calls I could take outside of the office for more time sensitive matters. My office time, I limited to interviews and critical efforts.  Despite this preparation, the week was still insane. 

Day one, I had to drive the boys to the bus stop because we had not timed the "getting ready" part of the morning right.  How was I to know that styling your hair to go just that way took so long and it was a bigger priority than an on time arrival?  I also apparently did not communicate well about changing an interview time so I was scrambling to make it happen in the office at the end of the day.  The boys took the city bus after school and met me at stop closest to my work. We took a page from the Indy pit-stop crews with our handover of their sister, and her stuff, who had ridden in the car with me.  I ran into work to be almost on time.  And they took their sister home on the next city bus. 

After the interview, I get a panicked call from my eldest.  He could not find the rental house keys (they had gotten in through the garage).  I walked outside to the bus stop hoping desperately I would find them lying on the sidewalk.  But no such luck.  I then told my son he needed to retrace his steps and do his best to find them.  I could hear the tears threatening in his voice but I wanted him to take responsibility and problem solve.  I then had a couple priority work calls with the US.  After they were completed, my cell phone rang again.  I took a deep breath before answering as I saw it was my son.  His voice, in stark contrast to earlier, was buoyant and exuberant as he exclaimed, “I found them, Mom!!”  He then described how he got back on the bus and followed his path in reverse. He found the keys on top of a trashcan where he had left them before boarding.  I think he took extra pleasure from the fact I had looked in that area and not seen them.  He also shared how good it felt to have solved the issue by himself

Day Two, I nearly missed picking up my daughter.  School was 90 minutes for her this first week which I discovered is not enough time to do anything. Although I had tried, and this forced me to drive crazy rushed back to school.  Of course, I hit all the reds lights and was stuck behind a few novice parallel parkers who blocked the road seemingly forever.  Seeing my daughter as one of the two last kids in her class triggered my “mommy guilt”, but she seemed oblivious as she happily chatted with her new classmate and teacher.
Parc Merl Luxembourg
My sons texted me at times during the week when they didn’t have someone to talk to and felt awkward at school. Each evening, we went to an amazing local park – Parc Merl – where there was something for every age from basketball hoops, slides, and merry-go-rounds.  My eldest was invited to a new friend’s house Friday night which ended the week on a high note for him.  I took the younger two for a shopping trip downtown since I had seen a Dutch shop I enjoyed frequenting when I lived in Holland.  I should have known the store was closed when we found a parking spot in front.  I suggested a walk in the neighborhood as a consolation and ended up having to explain to my eleven year old son what a “Gentlemen’s club” is about. Another "benefit" of a new town you never know where you will end up. We found a dodgy McDonald's which the kids loved and me a bit less. But their gigantic smiles made up for everything else.  It wasn’t what we planned but they loved it any way.

When I reflected back on the week, I felt I had been there for my three during an important transition. I also witnessed each of my beloved children "grow up" a little as they adjusted to a new normal too.  I didn't let any big work balls drop (I did go in on Sunday to catch up when my husband returned.) 

This was a good start for me to learn balancing like juggling means things will drop sometimes – or I have to be willing to let them go, knowing I can pick them up later at the right time.  I try to be kind to myself and to say that is good enough.

A version previously published on my Working Mothers blog Mom, Mayhem, Missions and More.

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