My life is a circus. No, really, it is a circus! A full-blown three-ring circus, complete with four clowns, a strongman and a ringmaster! I attempt plate-spinning and magic acts during dinner (making broccoli disappear is a good trick of mine) and the kids love it when the strongman (aka Dad) shows off his skills in the pool, as the kids become human cannon balls flying happily through the air.
My juggling and balancing act often goes unnoticed. Balancing health and happiness for my family are most important for us. Although I like the title of ringmaster, I feel more like a tightrope walker, because only precision, balance and coordination can get me to the other end of the rope—also known as "my day." Asking a mom of four how she does it is just like asking a tightrope walker how they do it. The secrets to my talent of walking the tightrope of life are few, but very important.
Evidence of Life: It's hard to embrace a mess. I like a clean house and I have a clean house, but I will never strive to have a perfect house. I have a home filled with love and life, and I don't stress about the little things. I don't mind a mess of puzzles and blocks in my living room. They will be gone soon enough, when my kids leave for college. The glitter on my dining room chairs reminds me that my daughters had fun making cards for their friends for Valentine's Day. Fingerprints on the mirror, toys in the tub, sippy cups in the cupboard, baseballs and basketballs all over my yard, and dirty socks in my hallway are evidence of our busy life, filled with happiness and laughter. I love it and I've embraced the chaos. I can clean up later. Happiness wins.
Perfection Is Wearing: I am a recovering perfectionist. I am trying my best not to teach my children that having the perfect life, the perfect grades or the perfect project is what matters. Did they study and try their hardest on their math test? Then that is all that matters, that they tried their hardest. Does their octopus that they made with papier-mâché look like the one in the Pinterest album? It's perfect because they made it 100 percent by themselves. Life happens and we are late sometimes. We laugh so hard that we spill milk. It's OK. We can clean it up. Don't drive happiness out of your life. Life happens.
Moderation Is Key: I have seen many documentaries and read books about what to feed (and what not to feed) your children, how much TV not to watch, how technology is ruining the social skills of our youth, etc., and my conclusion can be summed up in one word: moderation. Everything in moderation. We balance health and happiness together, and moderation is key. We don't have fast food every day and we don't have cupcakes every night after dinner. We don't watch TV for six hours a day, we splurge on special occasions with sweet treats and we try our best to eat a vegetable or fruit with each meal. I will not obsess about organic everything (although I do buy consciously) and sometimes my kids eat food out of a box. I make pancakes and salad dressings from scratch and we have a garden too. Happy kids are healthy kids.
It Takes a Village: I am not perfect and I don't want my children to perceive me as such. I will fall off this tightrope of life many times, but it's what happens when I fall off that matters: I will always get back up. Those who make up my safety net to catch me when I fall are there to help me get back on my tightrope. I would not feel safe without them in my life. I know that I am also a part of many others' safety nets, too. I will always make it to the other side of the tightrope because the show must go on, even if you fall off. You must get back up and finish the act. The best part of falling is that the crowd goes wild when they see you've tried your best and get back up.
Love Everyone: Literally, love everyone around you. Make time for the people you love. Be kind to the neighbors you call friends. Smile more. Laugh loudly. Make memories every chance you get. Don't sweat the small things. Life is too short.
I hope my kids have embraced being a part of this crazy life. The uniqueness of being a part of a big family is unlike any other. We look like clowns coming out of a car—it's always a party when we are together, and with so many people there's never a shortage of love. Balancing happiness, health and everything in-between is a magnificent feat in itself.
Image via Marisa Langford