I slipped out of the house undetected (after a complete report on where I was going and when I’d be back) a couple of days ago to have lunch with my husband. Before I came home, I called to see if anyone wanted anything while I was out. No. Then I asked if everyone was ok. Here’s the conversation:
The Grandmother: “Everything’s normal.”
The Grandmother: “Well, everything is like it usually is, anyway.”
Now, I have this thing where, no matter what anyone says, I can usually apply some sort of movie quote or song lyric to it. I wrote about it here. So I started thinking about what it really means to be “normal.” First of all, my brain spewed out a quote from the movie “Tombstone.” At the very end, Doc Holiday is dying, and he asks Wyatt Earp what he wants, and Wyatt says, “Just a normal life,” to which Doc responds, “There is no normal life, Wyatt, there’s just life.” Then, naturally, my mind jumped to Spongebob, and the episode where Spongebob becomes “normal.”
If you haven’t seen the episode, obviously you have more of a life than I do, but the gist is, normal turns out to be kind of boring, and just generally not as much fun as abnormal. Who decides what normal is, anyway?
My life definitely does not qualify as normal–at least, not to the public in general. With a sister and daughter with severe and yet very different types of disability, my days are probably not a lot like yours. And yet, they might not be as different as you think. I still have to get everyone up, get them fed, get them headed in their various directions for the day, meals are planned, bodies are washed, teeth are brushed, books read, work done, house cleaned……you get the picture. The same things have to be done, they are just done a little differently.
My life is normal, to me at least. I think maybe normal is a very subjective word, like most things, if you stop and think about it. We all just sort of do what we do, you know?
I am always amused when someone says, “I have no idea how you do what you do. I couldn’t.” I always bite my tongue and I never say what crosses my mind (note to doubters: believe it or not, despite rumors to the contrary, I do NOT say everything that pops into my mind) which is simply “Sure you could, if that’s what you had to do.”
For what it’s worth, all of you who think I do so much more than anyone else, let me give you some examples of the lives of people I know, and guess what? I wouldn’t trade places with them for anything.
- My dear friend is a stay-at-home mom like me, and she has a son who just turned two. He demands her attention all of the time. I mean this in a very literal sense. He won’t sleep without her, eat without her, nothing. Ever. Can I make this any clearer? On top of that, her middle child feels compelled to compete for her attention. I am about ten years past my baby-tending prime, and I swear, I have no idea why she isn’t in a mental ward somewhere. She is either the most patient person on earth, or she has some really good drugs. Maybe a little both.
- Another of my friends is a teacher plus has two kids at home plus has a daughter in college plus has temporary custody of a boy whose mother passed away not to long ago plus she’s in the middle of getting a divorce from the world’s neediest man. Holy hell–need I say more?
- My own mother is with her husband all of the time. I am not making this up. They work in the same place and they have the same schedules. They take the same vacations. They are together all of the time. Did I mention they are never apart? I have the type of personality that completely supports the theory that you can’t really appreciate someone until you spend some time apart from them.
- I know another woman who isn’t a close friend, although I do see her pretty regularly. She is one of those, whaddayacallem, obedient wives, and she asks her husband’s permission before she makes decisions about the kids, the money, the house, whatever. Um, I didn’t get married because I needed support for my poor decision-making abilities. That fellow and me would last in a marriage less than twenty-four hours, I promise. I’m not bragging–he’d despise me probably more than I would despise him.
So you see, normal really doesn’t exist, at least outside of our own walls. Everyone has their own thing going on, and it always appears kind of weird to people on the outside looking in. Before you look at my life and think, “I couldn’t do that!” remember: you might be surprised what you could do. I guess we all just do whatever we have to. Except the obeying the husband thing. I’m pretty sure that is way out of my reach.