I first wrote this essay in 2003, and found it when I was cleaning out a bookshelf in my office…
Webster’s dictionary defines normal as “According to established norm, rule, or principle; conformed to a type, standard or regular form; performing the proper functions; not abnormal; regular; natural; analogical.”
For many years I have said ‘when life gets back to normal, I will ….’ and it always ended with something that I really wanted to do with my life, I just couldn’t because there were too many obligations that needed to be focused on right then. Each stage in my life has had its own definition of abnormal.
Being a mother of one infant was exciting, exhilarating, and of course, extremely tiring. But being the mother of three infants wasn’t three times as exciting, exhilarating or tiring (and I would have settled for three times as tiring!), it was ten-times as tiring. I had the joy of bringing Courtney into the world 12 1/2 months before Noah joined her. I wasn’t a young mother, and it wasn’t like playing with baby-dolls, it was real work. Feeding, bathing, laundry, picking up their toys, and then still having time for my husband didn’t leave much time for me to take care of me. But I just kept saying, when life gets back to normal, I can really relax…and then came along Nathan. At least he waited until Noah was almost 2 before he was added to the family unit.
Courtney was a happy baby, Noah was a colicky baby, and Nathan was a just plain cranky baby! Their toddler years were full of adventure, enchantment, frustration, but most of all, joy. I loved watching them grow and learn. Just seeing the looks on their faces the first time they saw something wonderful, or when they finally understood how something worked, warmed my heart. I wouldn’t have traded those years for anything. But when life gets back to normal, I’m going to relax…..
Elementary school came along, which meant frustrating mornings getting everyone up, dressed, fed, and out the door on time. Helping with homework, missing work because I had to play Dr. Mom. Being ‘room-mother’, going to their first plays and music recitals. These are all wonderful memories that can never be taken away from me. I wouldn’t have traded those years for anything. But when life gets back to normal, I’m going to relax…..
After school activities such as scouts, sports, and church groups meant the mom-taxi was constantly on the go. I’m not the type of person to just sit back and watch, I had to be involved. So I was Cub Scout den mother, Pack Leader, and District Secretary. I was Girl Scout cookie chairman. I was Sunday School teacher, and kids summer program coordinator for our church. I was scorekeeper for the Little League team. I was tired. I wouldn’t have traded those years for anything. But when life gets back to normal, I’m going to relax…..
High school activities were even more time consuming. Sports, music, martial arts, after school jobs, and teaching them how to drive (ah, so that’s where these gray hairs came from!). Struggling through a divorce, just when my life was at it’s most hectic point. I wouldn’t have traded those years for anything. But when life gets back to normal, I’m going to relax…..
High school graduation, four years of college, worrying when they stayed out too late. Taking on a second job to help pay for college. Enjoying the fact that they were now young adults, capable of making their own decisions, and accepting responsibility for those decisions. I wouldn’t have traded those years for anything. But when life gets back to normal, I’m going to relax…..
Becoming a grandmother was an even greater joy than becoming a mother was. I have all my past experience to draw on, and I don’t panic when the baby fusses. I can enjoy him and love him and not worry for him. Christopher is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen (even more than his father was!). Noah is an excellent father, and he has chosen a wonderful mother for my first grandchild. I wouldn’t trade these years for anything. But when life gets back to normal, I’m going to relax…..
Empty nest, they are all grown and out on their own. My time is finally my own. But guess what, I’m too busy to relax! There are so many things that I never got to do that I wanted to do, so now I’m doing everything. I’m starting to write all the essays and stories that have been floating around in my head all these years. I am going to travel more and really take time to enjoy what I see. There will be plenty of time to relax when there is nothing new left to do, or when I am no longer physically able to do it. I wouldn’t trade these years for anything.
Many times over the course of 25 years I’ve concluded that there really is no such thing as normal. But what I was really looking for wasn’t normalcy; I was looking for ‘the way things used to be’. Life can never be the way it used to be, it is constantly changing and improving. And through all this, I have finally figured out that my life is normal, and for once, I am relaxed.
2016 addendum…I am now happily remarried (to a most wonderful man!), and have five more grandchildren, all as wonderful and as loved as the first one. I have seen all three of my children marry wonderful people, I have traveled to many new places, experienced many new things – for example I have gone zip-lining and parasailing! I have even taken two ‘grandma roadtrips’ where just Filmore (our adorable Shih Tzu) and I drove all the way to North Carolina to see Courtney and Mike and their three children, then on to Louisiana to see Noah and Mandy and their three children. Nathan and Jenny just got married and don’t have any little ones – yet. And I still believe – my life is normal. 🙂