I have several friends who are caring for either one or two parents, and when we meet, of course, we ask about each other’s parents. No sooner does the conversation drift to sharing “war” stories about caring for our parents.

Taking care of my parents has taught me to be a juggler. I needed to learn to juggle my job, my own family and being a caregiver. And there have been countless times I’ve dropped one of the balls I was juggling— whether it be the job ball, family ball or the caregiver ball.

I would miss a deadline at work because something unexpected happened with my family. Or, I’d need to change a family commitment because of something I needed to do for my parents. Or worse yet, my mother would asked me to pick up a Sunday paper sale item from Longs Drugs and I’d forget to buy it because I was so busy at work.

I’m not the first adult child learning how to be a juggler. But I’ve come to realize the juggling act I was doing involved three balls of different sizes. As seen on TV, a juggler juggling three baseballs, then he throws out one of the baseballs and his assistant throws to him a bowling ball. To make it more challenging, the juggler then throws out another baseball and the assistant then throws into the mix a bowling pin. So now the juggler is juggling a baseball, a bowling pin and a bowling ball.

I’ve also mentioned to my friends who are taking care of their parents that I learned to be a duck. Yes, a duck … and it’s not because I’m “quacking” up. There are times when my parents say things that raise my blood pressure, so to keep my sanity I’ve learned to act like a duck. I take the attitude that when they say or do something that pushes a button (and parents can push buttons very well), I visualize that I’m a duck. I make every effort to have whatever they say roll off my back, just like water off a duck’s back.

So now when I get out of my car when it’s my turn to take care of my mother, I say, “Quack, quack. I’m a duck.” Of course, this hasn’t work 100 percent of the time but the visualization helps. And, so does the smile.