A neighbor stopped by last night to drop a card off at our house for Madelyn. He and his wife have 3 small children. Our neighborhood has undergone a shift in the last year, we’re one of the “older” couples on the street. As I chatted with him for just a minute he explained how their family has been so busy and he’s ready for things to settle back down. I told him about “new normal.”
When my kids were little the days were somewhat predictable. We’d be home every afternoon for nap time. Every evening at about 7:00 we’d start the bedtime routine which would ultimately end with kids in bed and mom and dad watching a show. Mornings brought breakfast, laundry and possibly play dates for lunch, all to be repeated again and again. We would do different things, go to different parks, perhaps a trip to the zoo. But, it was all predictable. As the years progressed we became busy with one kid, then the next and the next, all headed in four unique directions. Every season brings new schedules, new activities and new challenges. Just as soon as I feel like we’re settled in with one schedule something ends or something begins and everything changes.
It happened slowly. New Normal would last for 6 months or a year at first.
But now, New Normal happens every few months.
As I watch these kids grow and manage their own schedules, their own social lives, their own work and play what is normal for me is constantly changing.
There is no bed time, we try, but I think our kids are nocturnal. We bought a fan and lock our door. Don’t talk to me until 7:30am. Teenagers sleep weirder than babies.
The kitchen is always open. Clean up after yourself (they don’t actually do this.) Don’t leave food in your rooms or the basement (they also don’t do that.)
Friends are always welcome and are often here.
I finally got a chalk wall which works amazingly well with helping us manage schedules. But, as soon as we’re used to the craziness of teenagers we’re going to have adults living with us or not here at all. That transition is already beginning. I’m going to cling to this summer, the last “normal” summer I’ll ever have. Then we’ll have “New Normal” summers. Those will change every other year for a while.
So, what I’ve learned is there is no such thing as normal. There is no routine to settle in to, there is no consistency to depend on. I am a creature of habit so I’m always looking for what I can count on. What I’ve found that to be is change, it’s the only thing I know for sure.