On the Road with the Circus ... and Kids!

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Kathy Carden is a seven-generation animal trainer who balances life as a mother with being a performer with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. As a mother of two boys, Cash, 5, and George, 7, she makes sure her boys are well mannered and well educated while traveling with the Circus.

What is your biggest challenge as a mom on the road with the Circus?

We recently made the decision to have my seven year old temporarily live with Grandma and start first grade in a traditional elementary school. I wrestle with it. It's tough. He recently asked when he was coming home. That was difficult. Do I keep him here or send him to Grandma's house? I don't want to be separated from my child but you want to do what's best for him at the same time. I felt like he needed some extra attention and traditional school would be the best. I will be with him by Christmas, but it's still hard.

Do you ever have guilt like a traditional working mom does?

That's what's nice. There is no guilt because you get to bring your children to work with you. The boys have been on the road since they were very small. No matter what's going on they are right there with you. There is also a nursery that travels with the show, so the boys were able to play and socialize with other kids.

How does school work for the boys when you're on the road?

The boys go to school 4 hours a day, Wednesday through Sunday. Ringling Bros. provides a teacher who travels with the Circus and provides schooling for the kids of performers. The school-aged kids' days off are Monday and Tuesday because that's when performers have their days off. My boys learned a lot from the teachers on the road. My five year old is in Kindergarten and loves school. He's really bright and so learning comes easy for him.

How do you handle the other normal mom duties while on the road, taking kids to the doctor for check-ups and appointments?

We have cities where we perform yearly and those cities have become home base for doctor and dentist appointments. Like when we are in the Seattle area, we have doctors and dentists we regularly use.

You were also on the road as a child, traveling with your parents and the Circus. What are your memories like as a child?

I loved my childhood. My mom stayed home with my brother and I and my dad traveled but we would travel too when we were not in school. I grew up like this and have the best childhood memories of being on the road with my dad, learning how to train dogs and horses with him. I learned how to love and take care of animals from my mom who would care for any animal that crossed her path. Stray cats, ducks, turtles - you name it, my mom cared for it.

As your boys grow up, do you plan to change your current routine?

End - After my current contract is up I will be going home to Missouri and both boys will start classes at a traditional elementary school. They are excited to ride the school bus! It's a wonderful job but family comes first.

See Kathy and the Ringling Bros Super Circus Heros from October 3 - 5 at the Toyota Center!  Click HERE for ticket information!

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