Monday, August 29, 2011

We are not circus performers.

Photo Credit: danilola
A juggler throws up a ball in the air, no problem.  Now adds two, three, four.  We watch in amazement as they manage to keep everything going in smooth simple arcs.  Now someone throws a larger ball into the fray, after a moment where we don’t think they’ll pull it off the juggler manages to keep going without much change in the rhythm.  A second person comes in and this time throws a fragile vase in.  Again, the juggler is able to keep everything in the air, although now the rhythm is getting more frantic.  A small child approaches and begins to ask questions, and talk, and ask for things that take at least one hand to do.  The juggler knows they must keep everything going and tend to the child, so they switch and manage to keep everything going using their head and one hand while helping the child with the other.  Now an adult comes in and needs to talk to the juggler, ask questions that require some thought, and wants to have a full conversation.  All the while the juggler is trying to keep four balls, one large one and a delicate vase in the air while helping a small child. 
London Juggler
Photo Credit: Leon Benjamin

Sound familiar?  It’s what a lot of parents do each day.  Sometimes we’re lucky enough to have another adult who will step in to help the child, take some of the balls out of the air, or even take over juggling all together.   Sometimes we end up dropping something, not being able to help the small child just right then, or aren’t able to talk to the other adult until later.  The problem comes in that we expect ourselves to be able to handle all of that.  Day in and day out we demand, of ourselves, that we juggle all of that and help the people asking us to help them without stopping to consider our own needs.  We also rarely ask someone else to help us.  We expect perfection of ourselves.  The fact is that even the best of us can’t do it all alone.  Sometimes we need to have someone else take over, even just one of the items we’re juggling.  But we often do not ask help.  Whether that’s because we’re afraid or just don’t know how doesn’t matter.  The fact is that we don’t ask for help as much as we should.  Our fears about asking could be because we don’t want to be rejected. We may fear that people will think we are unable to do anything without help.  We worry so much about appearing weak, but asking for help is not a weakness, it is a strength.  We worry so much about what others think of us that we can’t bring ourselves to ask for help.  
Photo Credit: Dimitri N.

Sometimes what makes us great parents, what makes us truly great people is not our ability to do it all on our own or juggle everything.  What makes us great is our ability to admit we can’t do it all and to get help.  So next time you’re struggling to juggle everything at once stop and admit you need some help.  See if someone will take one of the things out of the air for you, maybe even two or three.  And maybe see if you've taken too much on and need to step back and let something fall.  Even if that vase breaks, it's just a vase.  Don't expect too much from yourself.


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