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LJI9 Week 17 - Juggling Watermelons

This is my entry for this week of LJ Idol, Season 9. Please check out the entries of my fellow competitors and consider joining the therealljidol community. This week's topic was "Scare Quotes."

Not only am I a work-at-home mom, but this year I resumed the position of head of Press Relations for Otakon. Trying to balance these two important jobs is like juggling greased watermelons. I'm just waiting for the next thing to go splat.

For those who don't know, Otakon is one of the biggest conventions in the United States that celebrates Japanese animation (anime), as well as Asian culture in general. At our latest convention, which ended this past Sunday, we brought in over 33,877 people (not counting children, dealers and other special badges, like press). As the head of Press Relations, I serve as the liaison between Otakon's staff and official guests, and the media. It's my job to vet the press for press badges, schedule interviews with our key guests, and deal with any questions and concerns that come up relating to the registered press's coverage of Otakon.

In the weeks before the convention, I spent every free moment on marathon sessions of Ota-work. In such moments, I felt less like a mom and more like a "mom," whose claims at parenting skills should be subject to derision. I had moments where I truly doubted my ability to fulfill both expectations: especially one afternoon when I discovered that my 4-year-old had peed his pants because he didn't want to interrupt me in my work.

It brought me back to the last time I had served as the head of Press Relations, when my son was a newborn. I was literally answering Otakon e-mail while breastfeeding him in my lap, feeling incredibly guilty the whole time. At that convention, I was often distracted, running up to the hotel room to hold my baby, who was being cared for by my awesome sister. It was just too much.

So I passed the leadership chair to someone I felt could handle it, and he turned out to be both competent and forward-thinking. In fact, he even streamlined our operations and solved some longstanding problems. But then he decided to move on, taking a position as the assistant to the head of Industry Relations. He asked me if I minded taking over the department again.

I thought about it for several months before confirming. Things were different now, I reasoned. My son was old enough to talk to me when he needed things, instead of simply crying. Plus, he was used to my habit of working on articles during the afternoon. As long as I stayed on top of things, I should be fine. I said yes.

The months slipped by, and I missed deadline after deadline for requesting the things we needed to have for our department. Fortunately, the other staffers knew me and sympathized with my attempts to balance my home life with this time-consuming volunteer position. They helped me out every time, to make sure we got what we needed. I owe them all a debt of gratitude.

At the convention, we had a few minor issues -- a couple scheduling miscommunications, for example -- but again and again, my fellow Otakon staffers stepped up and helped us out. Even my son played patiently while I made phone calls for two hours on Saturday night to let all the press who had signed up for tickets for the Yoshiki concert know personally that they would receive a ticket. This time, my son took himself to the bathroom, completing the whole process himself for once, including pushing a stool into the bathroom so he could wash his hands. He's going to be a staffer someday, I'm sure of it.

That spirit of teamwork, that dedication, is why I keep coming back. And when we all unwound at the end-of-convention staff Dead Dog Party, a small group stood around waving their arms while I crooned a truly awful rendition of a David Bowie song. My son watched me, smiling, from his daddy's arms. For those few minutes, I felt not like a "mom" or like a "press relations head" but like a success who had balanced two very important roles through challenge after challenge, and won at both.

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( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 12th, 2014 09:03 pm (UTC)
Good deal!
Aug. 12th, 2014 10:29 pm (UTC)
Yes, it worked out!
Aug. 13th, 2014 01:39 am (UTC)
My friends who've taken staff positions at conventions tell me that you either attend or staff -- one precludes the other. I'm sure being a dept. head must be overwhelming.
Aug. 13th, 2014 02:23 am (UTC)
Very true. The only "fun" thing I did the entire convention was the karaoke at the staff party. But that's the thing: the camaraderie is its own reward.
Aug. 13th, 2014 02:02 am (UTC)
It is so hard to balance those roles, especially with more children. I utterly sympathise!
Aug. 13th, 2014 02:24 am (UTC)
Thank you! I figured a number of people in LJI would, either as parents or as congoers/con staff.
Aug. 13th, 2014 04:40 am (UTC)
That's a very sweet story - and yay to KFP for getting things done on his own!

(Edited for iconage)

Edited at 2014-08-13 04:40 am (UTC)
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:34 pm (UTC)
Nice icon. :) I was so proud of him. He's growing in sometimes amazing steps.
Aug. 13th, 2014 11:55 am (UTC)
YooHoo! Cheers...:) I know it's difficult but you are doing great..*Hugs* <3
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks. That is always the goal, and I'm happy to finally be making some strides back to the sorts of things I want to do for myself.
Aug. 13th, 2014 12:13 pm (UTC)
Yay you! Nicky is starting kindergarten in two weeks. How time flies. I am taking on a special project for my old job. I can do a lot of the work from home. Carving the time out without too much interruption is going to be interesting in the next two weeks.
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:35 pm (UTC)
Good luck! How is it going so far?
Aug. 13th, 2014 02:33 pm (UTC)
Children sure do complicate things, don't they? ;) I'm glad that the weekend was a success. :)
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:36 pm (UTC)
They sure do! It's a good thing there are currently so many parents on staff. There's more understanding of the difficulties staffers who are parents face than there used to be.
Aug. 13th, 2014 06:26 pm (UTC)
Intersting post, and I got "juggling greased watermelons" out of it, too (serial number to be filed off and passed off as my own, someday).

Aug. 19th, 2014 11:37 pm (UTC)
You are welcome to it. I would, of course, expect to be thanked in the acknowledgments, should said piece make it into a book. :)
Aug. 13th, 2014 11:46 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it worked out for you! I was in Baltimore for a wedding last weekend, and because of my purple hair, people kept asking me if I was in town for Otakon. XD
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:37 pm (UTC)
Doesn't surprise me. Small world!
Aug. 14th, 2014 01:28 am (UTC)
Yay! Sweet story! AW
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Glad to hear it.
Aug. 14th, 2014 02:35 am (UTC)
You deserve an extra hour in the ball pit.
Aug. 14th, 2014 03:34 am (UTC)
How can KFP be four already?!?

Taking those years off seems like an incredibly good decision. Timing really matters when it comes to children, and this seems to have worked itself out pretty well!
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:38 pm (UTC)
I probably could have done with one more year, but he was amazing, as always. And I find it hard to believe he's 4, too. Time to change my default icon again! It's a year old, and he's so much bigger now.
Aug. 14th, 2014 03:37 am (UTC)
Congrats! :D
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:38 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - jem0000000 - Aug. 23rd, 2014 03:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 14th, 2014 04:08 am (UTC)
What a wonderful team! I don't know whether I could manage being a mother and work, but I think it is amazing when you have team members who are helpful and understanding.
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:39 pm (UTC)
It was invaluable to have their help. Otherwise, I couldn't have done it.
Aug. 14th, 2014 03:33 pm (UTC)
The KFP I saw was a sweet, well-behaved boy who is obviously adored by both his parents. Just saying. :)
Aug. 19th, 2014 11:40 pm (UTC)
Awww, thanks! He liked meeting you. In addition, he had so much fun at Otakon that he cried when it was time to leave. :(
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