The Adventures Of Fatherhood – April 21, 2023

Like most folks, my life involves a lot of juggling.

The goal is balance between family, work, professional responsibilities, physical health and spiritual wellness. Some days are don’t accomplish the goal, as work and professional duties win in a blowout. When this happens, I am usually riddled with guilt.

One night recently I apologized to Beckett, 14, for missing a lacrosse game in Salisbury because of a council meeting. He threw back a line I have used on him multiple times, “you need to get your priorities straight.” He was kidding and really cracked himself up. I heard the message loud and clear though. It’s why Wednesday I drove an hour to see a game in Frederica and left behind the mound of work that probably should not have waited. Though he only played a little bit, the ride home with him and his friend was certainly worth the ride.

After a few minutes of immature banter, the boys eventually dived into their phones and air pods, and I had some downtime to think about the juggle of life.

Regarding balancing her work career with raising kids, best-selling author Nora Roberts once said, “It’s too damn hard to keep everything in the air, and that’s a pressure we don’t need to put on ourselves. And if you drop a plastic ball, it bounces, no harm done. If you drop a glass ball, it shatters, so you have to know which balls are glass and which are plastic and prioritize catching the glass ones.”

Roberts was not literally referring to her children as balls in this case, of course. She was referring to the responsibilities in life that sometimes don’t get done or fall through in the thick of it all.

There are times when everything piles up and it’s impossible to manage it all. There must be prioritization, delegation and acceptance. The juggle applies to work and family and usually involves both with some other obligations. There are times when the plastic balls – the non-critical things — Roberts refers to fall. There was a time when I really sweated these sorts of situations. I still don’t like when I forget or can’t manage to meet the demands of a situation, but I have the perspective now to realize not everything is paramount even if there are a couple people – notably a 14-year-old named Beckett and an 13-year-old named Carson – who value it differently.

A well-known essay called The Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Cups of Coffee from an unknown author unknown hit the right mark for me and reminds me to stay centered and keep the right perspective.

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and fills it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – God, family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.” he said.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you…” he told them.

“So… pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

Please share this with other “Golf Balls.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.