The ringmaster of the circus

IMG_0663In describing the day-to-day logistics of managing a full life, people use lots of analogies. Oddly enough, many of these seem to be circus-oriented: juggling act. Balancing act (which may imply walking a tightrope). Or even just a circus itself.

In many cases, these analogies are trying to get at an idea of chaos or precariousness, but in thinking about it recently, I realized I liked the idea of life being a circus, and specifically me being the ringmaster of this circus. I like this image precisely because it is not chaotic. I like the idea of learning to master this role.

In a circus, there is a lot going on. There is always something going on! But no one is getting fired out of a cannon at the wrong time. It is a well-choreographed dance of things in sequence, with the clowns entertaining the crowd while the tigers are being released to their spots. The ringmaster anticipates delays and keeps the complex parts moving along.

While watching my family on the Today Show this morning (you can see the segment here!) the circus analogy definitely came to mind. Four kids all have their own schedules and needs. We organize the play dates and figure out who needs to be at swim practice and ballet and soccer. We have the additional moving parts of my husband’s and my travel and work schedule. We are probably not as well-choreographed as Barnum & Bailey. But we do not need to be as glitzy as the circus. In general things keep moving and over the past 9 years (since my oldest son’s birthday — today!) this ringmaster has slowly been learning to keep the shows in each ring from breaking down. Well, most of the time. We were late to soccer Sunday. There were meltdowns both before and after church. But the Little League team got their snacks Saturday, and I got to run twice this weekend. I celebrate when the tigers leap through their hoops.

In other news: Welcome Today Show viewers! I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read some past posts and find more time-saving tips. Comments are always welcome as long as they are not attacking other readers. If you do not want to comment here, I welcome feedback at lvanderkam at yahoo dot com.

9 thoughts on “The ringmaster of the circus

  1. Great segment, Laura! Enjoyed seeing you in “action” (and I love that both your kids AND coffee made it into the segment!)

  2. Great segment snd fun to see you “in action!” I love that both your kids AND coffee made it into the segment!

  3. Laura, I loved the metaphor of the circus to describe managing the workings of a full life. In my professional work I believe these metaphors are very valuable to understanding customer needs so the more the metaphor “works” the closer it is to how we “see” our worlds. For more info, check out the wonderful classic book “Metaphors We Live By” by two of my big influences, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. They are cognitive scientists who show that metaphors shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them! Thanks for your share!

  4. Loved the segment–I always stand in awe of what you get accomplished, and it was fun to see your home and family. Nice job of packing some valuable tips into a short period of time.

  5. Laura – loved being able to “meet” your kids. After hearing so many stories about them, both from this blog and in person, it was great to see their adorable faces. And happy belated bday to your oldest! I find 9 years old (which my daughter is) to be a really fun age. They are still sweet but much more able to have adult-like conversations. It’s also the midpoint of childhood, which kind of gets me.

    1. @Rinna- thanks! I certainly think they’re adorable 🙂 And while I am trying to get my 9-year-old to go to bed on time, I do like having conversations with him at night. I find out all kinds of things…

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