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Juggling (and Struggling) Through Motherhood

  • Tonya Ruiz Contributing Writer
  • Published Aug 04, 2006
Juggling (and Struggling) Through Motherhood

I signed in my son at the doctor’s office. 
The nurse looked at me and asked, “You brought Zachary?”
“Yes,” I said, pointing over my shoulder to the chair in the waiting room. “He’s right there.”
“That’s Zachary?” She asked.
The nurse kept staring at me with a puzzled look on her face. So I turned around to look at Zachary.
“Oops! You’re right. I’m sorry. That’s not Zachary. That’s Jeremy.”
She looked ready to call Child Protective Services.

Then I went to the pharmacy.
I proudly presented the prescription calling my son the right name, “This is Jeremy’s”
“His Birthdate?”  She asked, ready to fill in the paperwork.
“Uuummm? Let’s see. The girls were both born in the summer. The boys both in March. His birthday is first. Zachary’s is second. He was almost a week old when Zachary had his third birthday party on the 24th. That would make Jeremy’s birthdate March 18th.” I proclaimed, proud of myself.
She just stared, pen poised in the air.
“March 18th.” I encourage nodding toward the paper.
“Are you sure?” She asked.
“Pretty sure.”  Quickly, I run through all the birthdays in my mind. “Yes, definitely March 18th. I think.”

What really worries me is the rumor going around that every time you give birth, you lose one-fifth of your brain cells.  I had four children. You do the math…because I can’t. It doesn’t seem fair to have lost my brain cells and my waist.

Back when I had a fully-functioning-brain, all I had to juggle was myself, my red mustang, my apartment and my job. I married and added a man to the mix which significantly increased the dirty socks and dishes. Then I had a baby, and another, and another, and another. Boy, I was really juggling then. Showering became a luxury. I ridiculously thought, When they get out of diapers this will be easy. Ha! Let the games begin. As they grew, we added ballet, trumpet lessons, and algebra homework to the mix. Juggling motherhood became an Olympic sport, and I had trouble keeping all the balls in the air.

I am not alone. Mothers have been juggling forever. Eve didn’t have it so easy. Can you imagine being “the mother of all living?”  And back then, there were no paper plates. I’m sure having Cain and Abel fussing and fighting caused her lots of guilt. She probably wondered, was it something I did? Was I too busy gardening and not paying enough attention to the boys? 

In the 17th century, most women gave birth to 13 children--a baker’s dozen. These days, Bobbie McCaughey holds the record for giving birth to 7 babies at the same time. Two words: Stretch marks.  The most children born to one mother is 69. They came in 27 pregnancies of various sizes: twins, triplets, and quadruplets. That mother wasn’t just juggling; she had a whole circus act. The oldest mother recorded gave birth at 66-years-old. That makes me tired thinking about it. I wonder, during her pregnancy did she take pre-natal vitamins or Geritol? Is it possible to experience post-partum depression and hot flashes simultaneously?

Recently, I forgot to pick my son up from driving school. The same son that I gave birth to, nurtured, and raised to teen-age hood -- I simply forgot. I could tell you my excuses for that day, about my busy day at work, the e-mails I needed to return, and the trip to the grocery store for milk. But it all boils down to the fact that sometimes I have dropped the ball. As hard as I try, I make mistakes. Thankfully, I have a big God. He made heaven and earth and He’s got all in control, even when I don’t.

As much as I’d like to be the perfect mom, it ain’t gonna happen. I am going to try harder. I bought post-it notes so I can write down where I’ve left the children, and I am cutting out a few commitments because multi-tasking is way overrated. I’m going to continue juggling to the best of my abilities, and I’m asking God to help me be a better mother. Not Perfect – just better.

Psalm 121:1 says, I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

Tonya Ruiz wears many hats as an author, speaker, pastor’s wife, homeschooling mother, and grandmother who calls Southern California home.