Redefining “Normal”

Since March, I have consistently referred to my life as “our new normal.” We were forced to learn to live in a world without my son in it. We abruptly changed from a family of four to a family of three. To having a son and daughter to only a daughter. My daughter went from being the youngest to the only child. From hiding in her brother’s shadow to being thrust into the spotlight. The center of attention; a position she had mostly attempted to avoid for the first ten years of her life.

So much has changed. We had to figure out babysitting for the summer. We decided to move her to a different school, in an attempt to shield her from students who knew my son and for no other reason other than curiosity would want her to relive that day, that period of her life. The catalyst to all this change.

The house stays cleaner, the laundry piles less. Our grocery bill is smaller. Our snack drawer is leaner. Our go-to meals have changed, as my daughter isn’t as big a fan of homemade tacos and Frito pie as her brother was. There’s no more arguing over pizza night. It’s Hawaiian, end of story. Unless you want to add boneless wings.

On the weekends, I now have the house to myself (well, the dog and I) for hours and hours in the mornings, whereas Brady, like me, was an early riser.

The sounds of bickering are rare in our house these days. There is no clamoring for the front seat anymore. Car trips are easy. Airplane trips are financially feasible. Choosing a restaurant, no debate. Family time is pretty much whatever my daughter wants it to be.

It’s so different from five months ago, yet it’s now… normal.

Today, someone else pointed out her normal. Her son has seizures. They never know when they’re coming or how severe they’ll be. They leave her son exhausted and her emotionally drained. “But it is part of our normal and we are trying hard to go about that normal,” she told me.

And then I thought about another friend whose son has a severe peanut allergy. It’s “normal” for him to read food labels, everywhere, no matter what or where he is. He’s eleven.

Then there’s the friend who is in her twenties, whose mother was her best friend, and she recently lost that best friend to cancer. Her new normal is living without her best friend—and growing her relationship with her dad.

One of my daughter’s friends is being raised by her grandparents. If you ask her, her life is pretty darn “normal.”

Another friend has MS, was diagnosed only a few years ago. When the disease wears her out, she gets annoyed, but otherwise, life is just… normal.

Just like the rest of us. Sort of skews your definition of the word, doesn’t it?


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