Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Finding My New Normal


A week and a half ago, my 21-month-old daughter slipped out of the house and fell in our pool. Thank God, we found her a few minutes later, and after a harrowing week at Children’s Hospital in Boston, four days of which she spent in the ICU under heavy sedation, she is home again with a perfectly clean bill of health and no lingering after-effects of the accident, either physical or emotional.

I, on the other hand, bear a few emotional scars.

Likewise, she has easily fallen back into her usual routine, her “normal,” while I am struggling to find my new normal.

Most of my new normal is merely increased diligence over my old normal: The doors I always closed, sometimes locked, and rarely latched are now always closed, always locked, and always latched. The video monitor that I glanced at now and then while my daughter napped in her bedroom has become the video monitor that I focus intently on for several seconds every minute or two. The “mom radar” that woke me up when one of the kids made a noise in the night has been heightened so the slightest peep has me sitting up in bed, wide awake, my heart racing. Taking a shower with my daughter in her playpen and my son in the playroom is a thing of the past. Taking my eyes off either of my kids for more than 30 seconds at a time is a thing of the past. Letting my son play in the sandbox while I watch him through the window instead of sitting outside with him is a thing of the past.

This is my new normal.

But my new normal is also kissing my kids more often, thanking God for my patient husband more often, ignoring my phone and my computer in favor of playing with my kids more often. My new normal is gratefulness for my kids’ general good health, for their sunny dispositions, for their bright curiosity. My new normal is thankfulness for family and friends who love and support me and my family, no matter what.

I have no doubt that over the course of time, my new normal will drift closer to my old normal. I’ll probably never be as nonchalant as I was about waiting 30 seconds to finish what I’m doing before chasing my daughter when she runs upstairs. I’m sure I’ll never again leave the room even for a moment without securing every exit. But I hope that I’ll also never take for granted my kids’ health, or their presence in my lives. I hope I’ll never take for granted that I have family and friends who will make sacrifices to help me out, without questioning and without resentment. I hope I’ll always remember and appreciate how my church family and my theater family were there for me when I needed help.

Where I’m at today may not be perfect; it may not even be average; but it’s definitely normal. And for now, it’s healthy. And over the course of time, healthy and average will get closer together, just as the old normal and the new normal grow closer together. And someday, my new normal will become just normal. Or at least, it will become our just normal.

What more could a mom ask for than that?

We don't aim for average, just normal.

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