Juggling Soccer Balls


When I was in my 20’s, I lived in Ithaca, NY, after graduating from college. I used to see an astrologer routinely to seek guidance during some unsettled times. He was an odd sort, this guru of the stars, and he had an uncanny way about him that was always right, no matter how hard I fought his ideas.

I remember it like yesterday, sitting at a routine “reading” of my birth chart, while he summarized where my planets were at that time in my life and what the significance was to the present as well as the ramifications for my future months and years.

“You like routine,” he said.
“Um…No. That’s kind of the opposite of me. I like spontaneity I’m a free spirit!”
“Well, that may be, but routines work for you,” he said.
I don’t remember how long I persisted in denying that fact, but the inevitability has become quite evident in the years since then.

I do like routine. I like knowing that my morning routine of making kids’ breakfasts, packing their and my own lunch box, then sending them out the door with my wife to get to school, leads into my morning workout then shower and off to work.

I like getting to work and having my time alone before customers or other staff come in and break my silence. I enjoy listening to my radio shows as I work. I look forward to the food that I’ve nicely packed, spreading it out over the 7-8 hours so that each item is savored. I also like leaving my work and coming home to my lovely family.

Boring? Maybe, but I’ve interspersed it with the many other more exciting things that I do throughout the day, week, month and year to spice it up, so it doesn’t seem boring to me.

Every once in a while, and some months more often than that, things pop up that disturb that routine. I try to roll with it for the most part, getting my primary needs met differently, but intact enough to reap the same rewards, yet sometimes that’s just not possible. Like a sick kid, perhaps, or a snowstorm, loss of electricity, a dead car battery, one of my kids who’s forgotten something important at home that they need at school, a friend in need, or a dying relative.

Routine for me is the fuel for the system that keeps my family together, so when it’s gone, the whole unit can fall apart and I can start to get grouchy.

I hurt my baby finger on my left hand this week. Why bother you with such an insignificant whiney detail? Because it’s my shift key on my keyboard. It’s the link to the whole system of my hands that keeps things flowing. It’s been out of commission most of the week and still hurts, but I wanted to put this post out, so I’m trying to teach my right hand to do it instead. Easier said than done!

On a larger scale, my wife has been gone since early Sunday morning to sit vigil with her dying sister. I know that it must sound very selfish when I say this, but we miss her here and hope for peace for Patty soon.

I have been a working parent for most of my kids lives, so I know how hard it is to juggle parenting needs with a career. What I am feeling now is probably more akin to the majority of my friends’ lives who all seem to be sharing their kids with an ex-partner and in a relationship with another person who is doing the same thing with their kids. I often point out to them that we have our kids all the time, so “NO we can’t just go out whenever we want because you’ve got nights without kids! Our kids are always here!” I’ve been through that with my two oldest girls, 4 days on, 3 days off, etc., and while that in itself became a routine, it’s not my routine now.

My system now thrives on 2 parents sharing the load. I don’t know how one parent can do all of this day after day. I do know that my kids wouldn’t all be playing on different soccer teams with 6 games a week, taking instrument lessons, playing in the band, singing in the church choir, and one a boy scout. If I were a single parent they would probably have boring afternoons in the after school program so that I could work a full day.

From the outside, my wife and I have very little in common. We share interests with the kids, but overall, we don’t share a lot of interests. I like sports, music, photography, politics, computers and all technology, cars, bikes, and social media sites like facebook. I keep us tethered to the world on a broader plane, while she does it more locally, chatting it up with parents at games, knowing all of the other kids names, and sharing the “us” as a couple and family more personally with strangers & friends. She likes to garden, has more time to cook, likes to take pictures but leaves me with the sharing and transfer of them, hates technology, never watches sports, doesn’t notice when her car is filthy, loves to talk on the phone, and can talk to just about anyone she meets! Somehow, it works, and I’d say that we’re pretty successful in making it work because we’re so different. But what we’re in sync about is our routine.

This week, not so much. While I’ve made every drop-off and pick-up on time without her help, I’ve been lucky to have help from a good friend whose children also play soccer with our kids, so driving has been easier. We are blessed to have many good friends who have been there in spirit, offered meals and help if needed, and are there for support. That is the key to a good support system and it’s the glue that holds the family together from the outside when cracks start to form.

Every person needs that glue, whether it’s family, friends, strangers, or a combination of all of those. Thank you all who have been there for us and who generously give to others in their time of need. Someday it may be you who needs the help and I will be there for you!

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