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I don’t know how you do that…

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It appears that I juggle a lot. Sometimes my workload sounds a little unreal even to my own ears. From the time I was a child, I learned to move things around so I could get what I needed to be done.

My mother worked full-time. The cycle didn’t stop there. My grandmother and her mother, as well as her grandmother, worked full-time as well. I guess it’s in the DNA.

My great-great grandmother was a farmer and an innkeeper. She grew her vegetables, killed her own chickens, and raised eleven children. Her daughter, my great-grandmother was a working woman. Her husband passed away from TB at the untimely age of twenty-eight. She divided up her four children to various relatives then got a job as a housekeeper and cook in a college in Austria-Hungary. She served as a sort of house mother.

My grandmother became a teacher, and when she moved to this country, she lost her occupation upon marriage. I’m proud to say she took on my grandfather’s candy store, raised five children, as well as an additional four young children incorporated into the family when her sister-in-law passed away.

My grandmother told me stories of picking and distilling rose petals for ice-cream syrup and cooking pears she harvested from her bedroom window for customers to eat during the depression. She also managed a numbers business for the infamous Dutch Schultz. In other words, my Bubbie was a bookie. All this without modern conveniences like dishwashers, or washing machines and dryers.

My mother was a full-charged bookkeeper who worked for a fuel oil company as well as managed my dad’s hardware store books in the evenings. Saturday and Sunday were reserved for food shopping and heading to the lower east side for merchandise to stock the shelves of their store.

It was natural for me to slide into second place with my husband, taking care of the back office while he was on the road. This is not as simple as it sounds. While we may have started with one car, there was still perspective accounts to call, airlines arrivals to check, billing, schmoozing. It was like building a structure. We began with the bare bones, then each level added more depth, more things to do. Soon I was dispatching multiple cars, farming out the overflow, checking on customer satisfaction, looking for leads.

As the business grew, so did my responsibilities, like payroll, taxes, sales. There were no set hours. Most of our work came from Los Angeles, so the concept of a regular day didn’t exist in our home.

The phones were located in our kitchen, so the entire house was taken over by the business. All this went on while I cooked, and cleaned, ironed and did homework. My husband was on the road and often didn’t come home until after eleven at night, where he’d fall into bed and get up for the red-eye fight arriving five hours later.

Once the kids went to bed, I found myself with a block of time. That’s when I wrote my first novel.

My family and business grew, and so did my tasks. I live with lists. We hired people to help. Just because you have people working with you, ( I hate to say they work for me, they work for themselves. I only provide the means.) doesn’t mean it gets easier to accomplish. You have to make sure they follow through with their responsibility. The lists get bigger, more involved.

Today, I run our businesses with my sons. It’s still a twenty-four hour, seven-day-a-week type of thing, so the phone never can be far. Despite the layers of people, sometimes you are still needed. I took care of my husband as he battled his final illness. We both showed up for work daily until the last weeks of his life.

I have written and produced over fifty books, and manage my son’s marketing and promotion for his twenty books.

Last weekend I wrote a script for my first book, Captain No Beard. I submitted it to the local children’s theater to see if it would fly.

I told the girls at the bereavement group about it, and I heard the familiar refrain, “I don’t know how you do it.”

“What?’ I asked.

“All the things you juggle. I don’t understand how you manage it.”
I shrugged. It’s easy when it’s a labor of love. When I stopped thinking of it as juggling and more of a balancing act, everything just fell into place.