Juggling the Glass and the Plastic


I read recently about an interview with author Nora Roberts, where someone asked her how to balance writing and kids. (Anything of this specific genre grabs my attention faster than a barista calling out the cup with my name on it.)

She said the key to juggling is to know that some of the balls you have in the air are made of plastic, and some are made of glass.
If you drop a plastic ball, it bounces.  No harm done.
If you drop a glass ball, it shatters.  Much harm done.
You have to know which ones are glass, and which ones are plastic.

Nora speaks truth.  And it got me thinking.

Because here’s the thing. Life is not so kind to hand us just two balls, one labeled Family, one labeled Work.  One clearly watermarked crystal glass, one clearly a rubber tennis ball.

If you’re like me, then you’re juggling balls with phrases that look like this:

Send them to School or Keep them at Home

Does Too Much Screentime include Math Videos on YouTube

Work Deadline is on Friday.
His research project is due on Friday.

Her Birthday is on Friday.

Crazy Sock Day is on Friday.

If I Send This Email, Does it Make me a Helicopter Mom

White Privilege is a Thing so Use Your Voice

But Do Your Research So You Aren’t Misunderstood

Buckle Up Because You’ll Be Misunderstood

Everyone Must Stop Pelvic Thrusting at the Dinner Table

Mortgage on Tuesday, Payday on Wednesday

The School Says They Were Absent, But We Were ALL Present for that Zoom Call

Drink Water, Drink Emergen-C, Drink Vitamin C, Drink Your Milk

No, You Can’t Have Soda – Don’t Look in Mommy’s Cup

Find Your Following and Build Your Platform


Take a Day Off from Everything

Be Present for This Living History

Step Away but Wear Your Mask

I Love You But Please Stop Touching Me

Honest to the Lord, How Are They Hungry Again

Apparently These are My Monkeys and This is My Circus

Some of those are going to hit the ground.

Some days, the plastic balls somehow get so much momentum that they throw off the whole balance and pull other balls into the sphere of gravity.  You only meant to drop one, but it took out three others.

Some days, the glass balls offer one loud bounce once before they shatter, giving you time to swoop in with your Go-Go-Gadget Arms and save the day before the bounce that breaks us all.

Some days, the balls are bouncing off the walls and you’re not sure what just made the shattering noise – a bad throw or a good catch.

On the news last night, they reported that the people under the most stress in Covid season are the young parents, sandwiched between their senior parents and raising their children.  Their stress may be nearly through the roof.

Sometimes we think that if we name something that’s difficult, we will only give it more power.
But in my experience, anything with a name therein has the presence to feel seen and known.
If what you’re feeling has a name, you can feel seen and known.

I see you, juggling for all you’re worth.

Tricia Lott Williford

Comments are closed

  1. I love your posts!

  2. Young mom (meaning: mom of young kids), new reader, juggling all the balls. Appreciate the identification of plastic vs. glass – a good reminder that not everything must be held together…something may drop, and that will be ok. Some breaks require more attention and hugs…especially when we’re 7 months worn and a little more fragile. My girls’ hugs last longer, my little guy needs reassurance, then space. This season has taught/is teaching us to adapt in a way we never have before, trust the Lord in a way we never have before, and find joy in ways we never have before.

  3. I’m not a young mom but an old(er) mom with grandchildren, and the juggling act continues. I feel deeply for young parents in the sandwich generation who are trying to work FT/parent FT/supervise virtual schooling FT/ care for senior parents FT. Some of those balls are gonna drop, and all of them feel brittle as glass. Thanks for this thoughtful post, Tricia – so appreciate your writing.

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