Guest column | Mary Partington

All this juggling not as fun as it looks

I never learned to juggle. It seems to be a simple task. I bought a book with three balls and I was able to keep two balls in the air but never three. I switched to scarves but it did not help. I just can't juggle. Learning to juggle was part of my Therapeutic Clown College course. I graduated even though I was not juggle competent.

You would think I would learn from the experience. If I cannot keep more than two balls in the air, how do I think I can keep a multitude of tasks circling around in my life. There is a name for what I do, and it is multitasking. I have been doing this for so long it is just part of my life. If I get a call to be on a committee or do a task, I usually say ''yes'' and just add the job to my list.

Mothers are great at multitasking. We learn early to give a baby a bottle while reading a story to another child. Working mothers have so many responsibilities that they are great at keeping everything going.

As a working mom, I shopped once every two weeks and I made and froze all the lunch sandwiches for two weeks. Before I went to bed, I put three lunch sacks on the counter with the treats in them. Just before the children went out the door, the frozen sandwiches went into the sacks.

Transporting children to after-school activities and sports is a nightmare for mothers. It never fails that each child needs to be in a different place at the same time. Just arranging car pools is akin to working out a political campaign.

Our high-tech age with the cell phones, electronic tablets and other personal digital assistants has caused multitasking to become a national pastime. Laws have been passed to regulate what can be done while we drive.

Recently, we spent an evening with our daughter and family and not a word was spoken between three children and four adults. Each one of my daughter's family had an electronic gadget in his or her hands and they texted friends while playing Words with Friends with family members. They communicated electronically. I was reading and my husband watched television. At least we were together in the same room.

While working as a Realtor, I learned to live by my weekly to-do list. With houses to show and closings to attend, it was like the man in the circus who juggles hatchets. If you drop one, you could lose a toe or a sale. I had a hands-free cell phone and I probably shocked passengers while I drove. I made appointments and handled calls all while looking at a map to locate the house I was showing.

Many think that retirement is a boring time but the truth is that is gives you an opportunity to add more stuff to your life. I have two part-time jobs. I volunteer one morning a week. I am president of my golf league, am involved in my church and enjoy a round of golf or game of bridge when I can.

There has to be a loser in all this activity, and it is family and friendships. I am so busy I could not travel to see a granddaughter's first prom dress or a grandson's soccer game. Phone calls to friends and chats over coffee have to be scheduled. A visit to a hospital is a "Hi'' and "Good-bye." A friend is not included in an invitation list because it was done in such a hurry. Entertaining in your home is infrequent. Things get done, but are they the right kind things?

Maybe I really did learn to juggle and shouldn't have.

Mary Partington lives in New Port Richey.

All this juggling not as fun as it looks 05/18/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 6:17pm]

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