I recently went to a wedding. I sat in the audience and watched this sweet couple, with stars in their eyes, make promises to each other – promises of trust, loyalty, unconditional love.
As I watched them promise to stand side-by-side and hand-in-hand through good times and bad, tears streamed down my face. I turned to my mom and said, “Now I know why people cry at weddings – these two have NO IDEA what is ahead of them!”
Now, I realize this is a pessimistic thought to have. But did you? Did you have any idea what you were in for? It's not our faults, really. In every fairytale, after the princess found her prince, what did they do? They lived happily ever after. That's it. The end!
Look around Facebook and Pinterest. Isn’t it all just full of roses and lollypops? Full of smiling, happy faces, gorgeous homes, elaborate vacations. Don’t you know that everyone (besides you) has the time every day of the week to not just figure out dinner, but plan brilliant healthy snacks, crafts and activities to make their kids much smarter than yours, organize and clean every little space in their homes, make their own kitchen table from wood scraps from the lumber yard, get to the gym, shower AND get ready, only to pull the rolls out of the oven at the end of the day, looking fabulous in their high heels, as their husbands stroll through the front door, flowers in hand, to plant a kiss on their forehead.
This is normal, right? Things are just supposed to be in a constant state of bliss and perfection. Well, if this is normal – something must be wrong with me. I managed to get a 30 minute run and a shower in today, but hey! It’s only 4:07 (in the afternoon) – there’s still time!
I have been struggling since our lives were turned upside-down, desperate to find “normal”. I’ve really had to step back, and think about the concept of “normal”.
One of my closest friends lost her second baby a few years ago. Her new "normal" includes visits to the cemetery, a tender bruise on her heart, heaven a little closer to her home and a stronger testimony of eternal families.
Another one of my very best friends has a dad who was severely injured in an accident when she was really young. She grew up with a very different normal than I did. But their "normal" was beautiful and filled to the brim with the spirit.
My sweet older brother has a really great job in Arizona. His little family lives in Texas, due to a geographical restriction in a court document concerning his step-son. His current "normal" is found on 2 am weekend flights to and from Texas, so he can see his beautiful wife, sweet baby girl and spunky step-son.
As the extremely abnormal post-trauma circumstances wear off, we find ourselves creating a new “normal”. Our normal includes eye medication morning and night, a little bit later morning gym time than Dust is used to, and rides to and from work instead of driving himself. Our new normal includes more headaches (all around), less sleep, and a lot more doctor visits.
As far as normalcy is concerned, I think we have both been having a hard time finding a groove. Our new normal might be different than it used to be, but it does have traces of our old, more comfortable normal.
Just today I found normal in the sound of my feet striking the pavement, in watching my kids play outside and enjoy the sun, in the sound of the keyboard as I pour my heart onto a page. I find normal as I kneel to talk with my Heavenly Father alone in the morning, with my little family in the evening and with my sweet husband at night.
Dust finds his normal in the inner strength he feels with each weight he lifts at the gym, in the confidence in himself he gains with each new task he attempts and accomplishes. Normal surrounds him when he is greeted with a "Daddy!!!" and little arms are wrapped around his neck as he walks through the door around 5 o'clock in the evening.
I feel normal when my anxiety level goes up as I rush to finish up showering, because Haley wakes up earlier than expected from her nap, crying in her crib. I felt normal on Valentine's Day when Dust gave me flowers, chocolate and a card, but failed to plan an amazingly romantic night for the two of us and we ended up watching a movie with our sick babies. I hate to admit it, but I feel normal when I lose my temper over something small and then spend three days apologizing.
Sometimes what is normal today can be really hard. To be blunt, sometimes the normal we find ourselves stuck in really sucks! BUT normal is ever evolving, continuously changing. What was our every day normal just three months ago is now just a memory. The days of cleaning a trach site, feeding Dust Ensure through a feeding tube, and giving him medication every two hours while our family raises our children seem like a lifetime ago.
Today's normal can be so very frustrating and discouraging. But the things that are a part of our every day normal life today will be so very different a year from now, three years from now, ten years from now. It won't ever be like the normal we had six months ago (before the accident), but it can still be just as satisfying and full.
Each and every day I pray that Dust feels more normalcy in everything he does. I pray that he finds happiness and peace in his new normal. I pray that together we find the courage to accept the new normals that are here to stay and the strength to change any negative or harmful things that could so easily become part of this new normal.
Our new normal is not perfect. Our old normal was not perfect. Pinterest can try it's hardest to convince us, but perfect is not normal - as much as we wish it were.
Our new normal is in a completely different realm than we ever would have imagined it would be on that beautiful August day seven years ago, when we looked into each other's eyes and promised to stand side-by-side and hand-in-hand through the peaks and canyons that life has in store for us.
We truly had NO IDEA how deep those canyons could run nor how high that tallest peak would be, but I am confident that our normal has a carefully planned "happy ending" written by our Savior and our Father in Heaven. It might not be what we imagined it would be in the beginning, but it is a normal that will again find it's groove and will be crucial in helping us to become who they intended for us to be.
So, what really is "normal" anyway? Who cares! Who cares what the rest of the world says is normal! An abnormal garden filled with strange and different flowers can be just as beautiful, if not more so than an ordinary garden. It all depends on the time and energy the gardener spends on helping it to flourish. I’m hoping our new normal is found in the care and love given to each and every flower (including my own).
Here's to embracing our crazy, mixed-up and abnormal normals. Here's to finding happiness and love in the situations we find ourselves in at this very moment. And here's to not beating ourselves up because our "normal" doesn't fit the picture we painted in the beginning.