I just saw a cartoon that a friend had posted on her Facebook. A little girl was looking up at her mother and asked, “What’s normal?” The mother replied, “Oh, that’s just a setting on the washing machine.”
Not very long ago my normal was quiet and comfortable. Our nest was finally empty so my husband and I began to date each other again. If we were hungry we ate. We cooked for each other and practiced the skills we watched together on The Food Channel shows. We made tasty, nutritious meals, working on our “presentation” and “carmelization” techniques while relearning the art of cooking for two that we had begun 36 years earlier. We spent quiet hours absorbed in our own special projects and had a good chance of finishing them because there were no interruptions. If we wanted to go out for a beer or see a ballgame all we had to do was put the puppy in her crate and off we went. We saved money because we didn’t need much. Those were halcyon days of getting reacquainted with each other and remembering why we married in the first place. All of that came to a screeching halt a few months ago when the oldest called to tell us that she was separating from her husband and moving back with her two boys, ages 10 & 11.
First, let me state on the record, that I absolutely adore my grandsons. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for them. I loved them the minute I first heard their little cries at the hospital. I delighted at the joyful squeals of “Grandma’s coming” as my car turned the corner of their street. No statesman or queen ever received such a royal welcome as these two little boys jumping up and down with excitement on their porch steps as the car pulled up. It was great…they lived there, we lived here. They could come over anytime and I would feed them gobs of junky food and candy. When they became too wound up I’d send them home for their parents to deal with. That was my job – chief spoiler. Then one day they learned that they would have to move many, many miles away. We held on to each other at the airport and cried. My heart broke seeing their little faces as they waved goodbye before disappearing through the doors. Eventually we got used to communications by email, posting photos on Facebook and sending Christmas gifts by way of Amazon. I missed them, but soon became accustomed to being a grownup again.
Now they’re back carrying the baggage of their parent’s breakup, but happy to be back home in familiar surroundings. They’ve grown. They’re taller and stronger. They eat like a pack of wolves, and don’t care a wit about my presentation techniques. They want carbs and sugars and anything they can find in the refrigerator. They bring friends over and play the noisy war games that boys have played since the dawn of time. They wrestle with the puppy who always wanted a boy in the house. They watch dreadful cartoons with characters that have whiny voices that crawl up my spine like a frozen centipede. They stay awake till all hours playing with the tablets that I bought them for Christmas from Amazon, barely fitting in the bunk beds we got for them when they were smaller. And they talk..and talk…and talk…and talk. They bicker and fight about everything. Everything is a challenge. Everything is amusing. Everything needs noticed and explored. Everything is an opportunity to correct or affirm.
So this is my new normal, and it’s okay. It’s been an adjustment, but I have to keep reminding myself that whatever happens does so for a reason. I may never know what this one is, but I’m content with it. It’s another opportunity to realize that things really are never in my control. It’s the first of the 10 Commandments….I am God and you’re not, so have a little faith.