суббота, 16 марта 2013 г.

Juggler Extraordinaire

By Lynne Leite

Our greatest danger in life is permitting the urgent things to crowd out the important.
~Charles E. Hummel

"Play with me, Mom! Please! Come play Memory with me!" my daughter, Alicia, would plead.
When the kids were young and the house in a state of chaos, I would feel the pressure of divided loyalties — clearly both the house and my children needed my attention. When I made the choice to sit on the floor and play the Memory game with my daughter, I would comfort myself by saying, "No one is going to remember if on (fill in the date) your house was clean or not, but your kids will remember if you had time for them."

In those years when the kids were young I decided to go back to college and finish my degree. I became a juggler extraordinaire. We would pick a favorite park and, in between rescuing a child dangling from the monkey bars, I would work on my statistics homework. We would spend an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese, a pizza parlor filled with noisy arcade games, where I would dole out tokens while grappling with a calculus problem. I would cheer my son around the baseball bases after a big hit and at the same time crack the books to cram for an exam.

Finishing my degree led to a corporate job, and more juggling. Over the years I did my best to divide my loyalties wisely. I wish I could say I always prioritized in favor of my children, but sometimes it wasn't possible. But I can say that I have never regretted the times I chose my children over other demands. It was a juggling act that I continued to practice even as the children grew into adulthood.

When Alicia graduated from college she took a job that required her to move across the country. "Mom, will you come out to D.C. with me? Could you stay with me that first week, Mom? I have so much to do!" Life was busy at home with our own business, but I knew when I looked back on that week in July of 2006 no one would remember what work I did, but my daughter would remember the time we spent together. How could we forget the drive from the airport in D.C. in the convertible rental car? It was so small that we had to drive with the top down and sit the luggage, the bulk of her belongings, upright in the back seat like two large, lifeless hitchhikers. Or the hours spent picking out work clothes to get her started in her new career with confidence. The week went by fast. She settled into her new job and soon weeks became a couple of years, and then I got the call.

"I think he's the one, Mom." I could tell from the sound of her voice that he was. I thought back over the years, the beaus that had come and gone. The drop-everything-I-need-your-help talks on the phone about heartache and healing. I thought about the juggling, the prioritizing, the wisdom, the growth and the love.

It was decided that the wedding would be in Georgia, where my daughter's fiancé was from. It was hard to be of much help planning a wedding from so far away. At a time when mother and daughter would normally tackle the task together, we were many miles apart.

"Mom, I'm going to e-mail you a link. I think we have found the place. It's absolutely beautiful! I wish you could see it!" She was right; it looked gorgeous. A Tuscan-themed winery, with the Georgia mountains as a backdrop, would make the perfect place for a wedding. Her words, "Mom, I wish you could see it..." echoed in my mind.

"I know you're busy, Mom, but what would you think about going with me to Georgia? You could meet Drew's folks and we could get stuff done for the wedding." You couldn't keep me away.

It was a week spent meeting new family and taking walks with the mother of the groom, who became a new friend. There was cake tasting and flower viewing. And then there was the drive to Dahlonega, a quaint town and home to Montaluce, the winery location for the big day. I was charmed the minute we drove onto the property. A gently winding road wove its way through what looked like a little Tuscan village. Villas dotted the hills and a congregation of homes in a little valley had me imagining that people lived there who spoke Italian with a southern twang.

At the end of the road stood the winery itself, and we walked inside to the balcony overlooking the vineyards.

"Down there is where they would do the ceremony, Mom." My eyes filled with tears. It was beautiful, almost as beautiful as my precious daughter standing next to me. I had to juggle things to be there that week, but it was all worth it. And I knew that as the wedding date drew near I would juggle some more to be there for her.

The wedding was a magical day, made even more memorable by the time spent with my daughter in preparation for the big event. In hindsight, I don't remember the things that didn't get done or the money that I didn't make during that time. I don't regret juggling some things so I could spend that special time with my daughter. In fact, I think the art of proper juggling has served me well. I expect to use it often when I hear my future grandchildren say, "Nana, will you play with me? Please?"
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