Is there a “busiest” time of year as a parent? I think the appropriate response would be, “any time we are in.”

For me, it is fall. Fall has a learning curve. After the long, lazy days of summer we’re confronted with a “to do” list as big as the day is long. However, the days shorten as the cool weather blows out the sunlight. That makes it even more difficult to get the “to do” list done. 

Halloween fits the life of a parent well as we are asked to wear many different hats. We are asked to be cooks, coaches, teachers, protectors, spiritual guides, cleaners, nurses, professionals, mediators, chauffeurs, and, of course, all-knowing oracles.

When I went to the costume shop with my three children the other day, I watched how they jumped from costume to costume trying on different characters. Some cracked me up and some downright scared me. It was interesting to see whom they selected as heroes or what personalities they portrayed. 

I wish I had a psychologist with me to understand what each character might say about the personality of each child.

Of course, it is all in make-believe fun, but there was a character to which I could relate. It was the clown. Not the scary clown, or the sad clown, but the happy, yet humble clown.

I thought of how my parenting is like a juggling clown. We have so much to juggle. Some of us parents wear two hats, that of mom and that of dad. Different times require us to wear different hats in our approaches to parenting. 

The majesty of God’s many hats are abundant in Scripture. There are images and metaphors of God as mother and father throughout the Bible:

God as a nursing mother in Isaiah 49:15 and Numbers 11:12; God as midwife in Psalm 22:8-10; God as the one who gives birth in Isaiah 42:14; God as a fatherly protector and provider in Luke 12:32; God as comforter in John 14:26; God as the father who blesses in Ephesians 1:3.

None can capture the true character of God, but together they can share with us a tapestry of what it means to be a loving parent. 

As a parent, and even more so now wearing the hat as a single dad, I am in constant motion juggling all that needs attention. What is the next meal? Who took their vitamin? Who brushed their teeth? Who needs to work on their manners? What is the ratio between time spent watching TV, playing video games, doing homework, and reading? What birthday party invitation needs to be RSVPed? What is the schedule for Girl Scouts, play practice and rec department sports? When should the laundry be done? What favorite shirt still sits on the bottom of the hamper? What should I pack for lunch? What emails have I not yet answered? The list goes on and these are not even our own personal or professional “to dos.”

Parenting can seem like a three-ring circus at times. OK, maybe all the time. But the humble clown carries on his juggling act, playing his part to the best of his ability with a smile on his face. 

Every juggler chooses different things to keep in constant motion and it is always impressive to see that very few fall at his or her feet. No matter what is being juggled, there seem to be fundamental steps behind the act from which we can all learn. 

You must want or need to juggle. I need to juggle. There must be action and determination. You cannot “think” your way there. You must go slow at first and build confidence. You must be patient and know that Rome was not built in a day.

You must keep focused until it becomes second nature. You must repeatedly do it. Most importantly, you WILL make a mistake and drop something from time to time. It is expected.

Parenting is indeed a juggling act and we are all members of the three-ring circus. No matter what character you are dressed as this Halloween, with whatever responsibilities, know that as a community of believers we have been blessed with the innate tools to succeed. Our heavenly ringmaster is always present as both mother and father to guide us. 

(Jeff Wenzler is a single father of three unconditionally loving children who are teaching him the importance of juggling with humility. He runs a local, servant leadership non-profit for teens called, Pivotal Directions, and is completing his first book titled, “The Pivotal Life,” to be published this winter. Wenzler’s children attend Lumen Christi Catholic School in Mequon/Thiensville and he belongs to All Saints Catholic Church in Milwaukee.)