Normal? Life as a parent is anything but
A friend of mine had her two children exactly one year apart. She actually did this on purpose. I chalked up the decision to an utter loss of brain activity due to sleep deprivation, but she calmly explained to me that she and her husband chose to have kids close together so they could get back to normal. I’m pretty sure she’s still waiting for that to happen.Normal is actually defined as “conforming with an accepted pattern or standard.” Perhaps you can relate to the fact that my husband’s and my “patterns” and “standards” changed the minute our firstborn made his appearance, so I suppose I better start “conforming” now before it’s too late.I’ve been a mom for 12 years, and I realize I’m still waiting for life to get back to normal. Instead, I should just accept the fact that life will continue hurtling forward at the speed of light, laundry be damned, and the benchmark for normal will be changed faster than a poopy diaper.Every new parent knows that just when you get the baby sleeping through the night he will, without fail, start teething or get sick, or you will go on vacation and disrupt his sleep schedule. And as frustrating as those little “disturbances” are to our order and acumen, they are part of a larger picture that, upon closer examination, is, in fact, normal.Normal is a size-eight pre-pregnancy, 12 postpartum, and anything goes after that. Normal is peanut butter sandwiches for your first-born, and having to bar peanuts from the pantry when baby number two has severe allergies. Normal is baby swim class, baby gymnastics, and baby story time. Normal is also a trip to the grocery store. Free cookie included.Normal is a toddler who refuses to eat anything but goldfish crackers for three weeks straight. Normal is a preschooler who suddenly has night terrors for months on end. It can also be the craziness of soccer or football practice, followed by too much homework late into the night. Normal is never getting to go on a date with your spouse and then suddenly having every Friday night free. Normal is the picture perfect family portrait with everyone’s outfits picked out by grandma and hair perfectly combed and shining. Normal is also a family photo full of braces, ear piercings and tattoos.Another friend of mine constantly utters the motto: “It’s all good.” This is her way of expressing that despite the chaos, despite the winds of change, despite our differences, it’s all acceptable. It’s all OK. It’s all … normal.Other words used to define normal are: Ordinary. Common. Average. I don’t know about you, but I’d like my life to be anything but.Life as a family is in a constant state of change. And if we don’t alter ourselves along with it, we parents will be left 18 years from now still wishing things would be “normal.” And we will surely have missed an awful lot of good stuff along the way. Charla Belinski would sometimes appreciate “normal,” but admits, “It’s all good.” She is a freelance writer and certified parent instructor, and her column appears every other Sunday in the Post Independent.
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