What’s Normal?

It never ceases to amaze me that everyone’s idea of normal is different. I see it in children all the time. When I worked with homeless children in a daycare setting the children always asked if it was time to go home. Home for them was wherever mom and dad were. Children without a father in the home still played games that included mom, dad, and baby in the dramatic play center. I’ve never had a child without living grandparents ask what grandparents were. Children who eat all of their meals out of a paper bag still understand the concept of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Why are all these statements true? When you don’t know any other circumstances or conditions, and you don’t have anything to compare them to, they all seem normal to you. .

As a teacher of students from various socio-economical backgrounds, different ethnicities, and diverse religious backgrounds, I learned never to assume that their idea of normal was the same as mine. Incorporating celebrations like holidays around the world and sharing family photos always gave us an opportunity to learn about one another and to ask questions to increase our understanding. I especially liked when parents would share food that represented their culture and background. Needless to say, many of us as adults are not as open to the differences of others as we could be. The elusive “they say” seems to dictate what our normal should be. I once heard it said that the American dream is a 9 to 5 job, 2.5 children (I never really understood the .5 kid) , a single family home with a two car garage, and at least one four-legged pet. If that be the case, many people have never lived an American ideal of normal. No wonder we are having problems with achieving the “new normal:” our old normal was never solidified.

When do we reach the point when we stop waiting for things to return to normal or simply adjust to our new normal? Is it because we have never taken the time to identify what normal really is in our lives? Is spending time with our children and reinforcing the lessons they learn at school a part of the old normal, the new normal, or just normal? Is maintaining contact with our distance family and friends and checking on their welfare a part of the old normal, the new normal, or just normal? What kind of normal is having our aging parents move in with us? What kind of normal is sending a care package to a college student or an enlisted soldier? Is it old, new, or just normal to take a hot meal over to a bereaved friend or family member? Am I wrong if I substitute the words “new,” “old,” and “just” for the word ‘my.” After all my normal may be altogether different from your normal.

My normal has always included multiple generations living under one roof. My normal includes having brothers and sisters who are no blood relationship to me. My normal includes sharing what you have with those who are close to you even when it’s part of the last of what you have. My normal means always putting the children first. My normal incorporates whatever my husband and I decide we can do and will do regardless what others think. My normal includes people who believe in prayer and aren’t afraid to pray for me and with me. My normal fosters good will toward all people even if we need to agree to disagree. Commercials, social media, politics, or even the pandemic can not dictate what’s normal for me because they are not the foundation of my worldview. Promises that things will return to normal can not be my motivation for living, perhaps because I reached that age where I want to live in the now and enjoy the present. What I have now is normal since normal always requires adjustments due to circumstances beyond our control. The question then becomes am I willing to make the necessary adjustments. Adjustments are normal.

If this came off preachy, I apologize, that was truly not my intention. I guess what I really want to say is, you decide what’s normal. Don’t miss out on living, on sharing, on giving, on being waiting for a new normal. Make whatever adjustments you need to make to enjoy every aspect of your life in your present normal. You have talent. You have loved ones. You have ideas. You have opportunities. You have resources. You have hope. You have dreams. You have faith. No matter how little or how big these things are, they are part of your normal. Don’t lose another day waiting for things to change. Be the change. That’s normal!

Be safe. Be proactive. Be in the moment.

Transitions (40th Anniversary Edition): Making Sense of Life's Changes by [William Bridges, Susan Bridges]
Celebrating 40 years of the best-selling guide for coping with life’s changes, named one of the 50 all-time best books in self-help and personal development — with a new Discussion Guide for readers, written by Susan Bridges. Amazon.com

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