“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal”. ~
To me the word “normal” is hilarious. Who gets to define “normal”? And what gives the person who defined “normal” the right to be the barometer for all that is “normal”? What happens when what is “normal” gets a kink in it and you have to default to a new “normal”? I will tell you what, it takes a heck of a lot of energy and you become exhausted.
To me this applies to everyone, because although I can pinpoint specific events as of late where it has exhausted me to be “normal” or chasing “normal” and I have found myself literally chasing a watermelon down my street in high heels while wearing a dress that I might reconsider for leggings next time around (pause for the ridiculous visual and more in this in a minute), I know I am not alone. To me normal really is a book cover, because once you open the inside and read the pages, you see that everyone is striving for things that are considered “normal” when the reality is we are all just doing the best we can in the situations we are given. For us, we find ourselves in a new situation, because while we are now “perceived” as a more normal family because we don’t have the visible tubes on E’s face to prove to the world that still we operate in a state far from “normal”, we must seek how we will define our new state and how we justify it to ourselves and communicate that to others.
Since E came off oxygen 2 weeks ago, we have had a great sense of relief as it relates to some of the things we no longer have to do or worry about both emotionally, mentally and physically, but what I didn’t really expect is the required energy we now have to expend “being normal”. Don’t get me wrong, I am over the moon that we are in this place, but I laugh because with increased expending of energy comes a lot of funny events that can only happen when you are doing a million things at once with the overall goal of seeming perfectly put together. The cord has been cut literally and figuratively so that now I want to have us out doing all the things that we couldn’t do before and that “normal” families do, namely taking their children places and being mobile.
So, in light of our new freedom, I have put a lot of focus on trying to do those things, but what I have found is that the organized chaos and crisis state we have been living in is a little more challenging to transition from that I might have thought and that trying to be something we haven’t been takes a great deal more energy that I imagined.
It really all started on Saturday when some friends of ours were hosting a benefit at their house from 5-7. The beneficiary of the event is an organization that was leaving for Japan the following week to go work with the child victims of the earthquake and Tsunami, so that the PTSD would be minimized through the services that the organization provides. In light of this and the timeframe, I thought, it would be great to bring the minis (the wondertwins which I often refer to as the mini Pruitts) and with permission from our hosts I started preparing for our departure around 3:30…yes, seriously it took almost 1.5 hours to get everything assembled so that the wee ones could still somewhat be on their schedule for dinner and bed. Our time there was lovely slightly mortifying because between chasing Q around in the grass, keeping him away from the fire pit, keeping him away from the very expensive art and having, E vomit like the Exorcist all over the grass and her Brjorn, we were the perfect classy guests. Thank goodness for their sweet little ones who took to playing ball with Q which kept him entertained while the Ambassador for the program spoke about all the good were doing and over him you could hear Q shouting “Baaaaa” over and over again.
Next up in the “normal” queue was to agree to go to Scott’s cousin’s house for Mother’s Day brunch. Brunch started at 10ish and so normally, in our past lives, we would have just told everyone we would be late so the kids could take their nap or not gone at all and arranged to celebrate with them at another time. But since, E is off 02 we are embracing our freedom and decided (and to some degree expected – not in a bad way but the freedom for cords is a mental shift for everyone, not just us) to make a go of it. We headed off like the Griswolds heading to Wally World, with playpens, E’s chair and all the accompanying stuffed animals, blankets and swaddles we need to tie her down so she can sleep, Bottles, snacks, diapers, wipes, changes of clothes and the list goes on. By the time we arrived it was time to eat and we were long overdue on nap time so please cue the fussiness of an 18 mo toddler. We let everyone say hello and nuzzle them while spraying them down with sanitizer and got them off to sleep downstairs. I of course, had forgotten a very important item, their monitors so KSP made a sign and I ran up and down the stairs about 50 times to check on them. The rooms happened to be next to the garage so each time someone would go in and out, I would cringe as babies sleeping was foreign to everyone since we rarely showed up in the past 2 years. After about 20 minutes of rest, Q woke up and it was off to the races. I must have literally gone up and down the stairs 100 times checking to hear if E was awake. As it turned out, she slept for nearly 2 hours and woke up just in time to run out the door so we could get Q home for his next bottle. By the time we got back in the car, all I wanted to do was take a nap. Next time, I will just say we will be late and let the kids have their nap at home like works for us in our “normal” state and we will be a little late.
You all read about Monday, which ironically for as challenging as it was, was much more normal that these other days.
And finally we come to Tuesday which is my favorite because it involves me trying to exercise my work/life/mommy balance (start laughing now, it’s a doozy). In an effort to alleviate my guilt for almost never having time to read the books for my book club and to feel like I am somewhat normal, I had offered to host our book club which was to occur that night. Additionally, I had some big meetings that day so I wanted to wear something professional and cute so I put on a fun dress and some heels and took E out to the living room where she proceeded to vomit on me. After a quick assessment, I decided to risk smelling like curdled yogurt and keep the dress on. On the way out the door after giving both kisses, I could smell the unmistakable smell of poo, which Q had decided would be a good time to do this and the mother in me decided I should be the one to change him. Of course, as I did and I put his poopy diaper aside to grab his fresh diaper, he reached out like lightning and grabbed the poopy diaper and flung it so that some of the contents rolled out on the floor. Not only is this disgusting but also, it is terrifying, because you think you have cleaned it all up and then sometimes see the little ball lingering under the couch and subsequently shudder to think if there is any more that is hiding somewhere out of your eyesight which he will surely find later and try to eat…yes, gross and yet at this point I am still not fazed and off I go to work where the day goes smoothly and is quite “normal”.
Based on my hosting duties that evening I had stopped at the store on the way home from work to get some wine, and treats for eating and decided to pick up a watermelon so that we could all snack on it. So far so good. I get home and pull into the driveway and open the rear door of my rental (I am driving a different car due to someone hitting me, me hitting a pole in my garage at work and a rock breaking my windshield in the same 4 weeks, oh yes, it’s true) and out rolls the watermelon. In the bag, down the driveway, through the mud puddles caused by our recently discovered broken sprinkler and across the street. I, in my cute, lightly vomit-stained, a bit short dress with my high heels, start chasing the watermelon as a car turns down the street and starts driving towards me. As if in slow motion, the Watermelon came to a stop against the tire of our neighbor’s car while the multiple people out walking their dogs watch in sympathetic amusement…I pick up the now very dirty watermelon, walk it back across the street and start laughing at myself in addition making the mental note to wear the dress with flats in the future or possibly leggings. Somehow, I am still not phased.
The night continues this way, with Nana H. reminding me we are out of medication for the babies, so I have to drive like a mad man across town to get their meds and get home before Nana H. has to leave. This detour has set me back and at this point I am behind in getting the kids down for bed and trying to toss the salad, arrange the cheese plate, set the table, open the wine and pretend like I have it all together for my book club. At this point I am glistening a bit and my hair is a bit of a mess and I look out the window to see 2 of the women approaching my door. I check the clock, it’s only 7 and book club doesn’t start for another 30 minutes. At first, I was horrified by my appearance, the fact I wasn’t ready mentally or physically but once I saw their giant smiles as I let them in and they offered to help, and I could not have been more relieved or grateful. They arranged the cheese dessert plates, tossed the salad, opened the wine (and brought me a glass, love them) and set the table so I could get the kids ready for bed and it was so lovely and helpful and that was “normal”.
What I have come to embrace over the past week is that my “normal” needs to be what works for me, KSP, E & Q because that does not need to change. We will certainly continue to challenge ourselves and make an effort but at the same time I do not need to feel badly for still saying “it’s nap time” or can we do things differently, or do you mind helping, or whatever it is because I think that people expect it from us or that I want to prove that we are “normal” now. We are normal. This is our normal. Chaos and chasing watermelons down the street is much more normal for us right now than forcing our family and children to do things we aren’t ready for yet.
And for friends of this blog, whatever your normal is or how you define it needs to work for you and yours and it’s ok to be happy and content with that. I know as of today, I am. So welcome to my normal and if you want to share any crazy stories please do or if you just want to laugh at me chasing a watermelon down the street, that’s ok too.