The Rush to Normal

It’s 3AM as I write this, not my normal waking time mind you. The culprits? A combination of acid reflux, baby kicks, needing to pee, and likely stress.

Most of you are in the same stress boat as me, but I’m not stressed for the reason you probably think. I’m not wanting everything to be the same.

Remember back to a time before COVID-19, and quarantines, and all the things you complained about on the regular?

In all likelihood, those same things will come back to you when we return to “normal.”

Maybe you’re desperate to return to your life circa late February, before talk of this virus overtook our world. On the flip side, maybe some of you, like me, are starting to see the possibilities of a different reality. Maybe, normal wasn’t that great.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I hated my life or that there was anything really wrong with it before. However, now, I have more control over my time, and my family’s time which is one of our most precious gifts.

The thing is, on any given week, I know we’re over scheduled. It’s not even like we’re involved in that much, but the time thieves are everywhere. They’re in commuting, they’re in prepping dinners you “think” people will eat, they’re in looking presentable, they’re in “no child left behind” type classes, they’re in extra meetings that could’ve been an e-mail, they’re in reporting that needs to be sent to someone in a different format than already exists, they’re in extra curricular activities, they’re in “necessary” trips to Target, and I could go on and on.

We run ourselves ragged with the extras. The things that really aren’t adding anything to our lives (okay, maybe the Target runs are a cheaper form of therapy 😁). Basically, I’ve realized the value of the things I’m allowing in my day, are seriously lacking. Since I usually spend 2 hours commuting, and then another 8 hours working, the majority of my time is spent. My day used to start at 5:00-5:30AM which allowed me time to get ready before my kids woke up. It was necessary if I wanted to accomplish anything, and be able to semi wrangle my morning challenged child. Now, I mostly wake up at 6:30-7 and I FEEL alive…without coffee. I can wake up more slowly; I can pet my dogs instead of stumbling through a dark kitchen to the backdoor and kicking them out to pee as soon as possible.

Most mornings I journal, and I’ve noticed over the years of single parenthood, my handwriting had gotten sloppy. It’s not from laziness, but the urgency with which I was writing since I never know how much time I’d have to finish a thought. Now, I finish with legible handwriting, or I can easily come back to it.

It seems most parents are unhappy about having to home school their children right now, but I’m actually really glad for the opportunity. If anything, I’ve realized how useless their education has been. I know this statement will ruffle a lot of feathers, but I stand firm in my belief that American kids are falling behind the curve because we teach to testing and not for a real education. Regurgitation is NOT education (PS I know most teachers agree with this statement but their hands are tied here).

I was shocked when I asked my kids to tell me the name of 10 states and they could only name 3-4. They also seriously didn’t understand the difference between a state and a country (they’re 10 and 12 by the way-old enough to know). So, they had to write me a fact about each state. My son actually got really interested as he learned about state birds, animals, and other random facts. He even asked me if we could go to Arkansas to hunt for diamonds when this quarantine is over. Sure kiddo, why not?

I like how I see people out with their families, walking, talking, laughing. Before I rarely saw anyone around the neighborhood save the back alley, and now it’s like, “oh my gosh those people up the street have kids!?” Where have they been hiding them this whole time?

As we appropriately socially distanced with my parents last week, my dad remarked this time reminded him of growing up in the 60s. I guess the young girl being dragged down the street on rollerblades by a cute puppy made him wax all nostalgic. “I’ve never seen any of these people out,” he said. The way in which he said it almost made me miss the 60s, and I clearly wasn’t alive.

I’ve heard more from old friends than I have in the years since we grew up and moved away. I see gorgeous homemade breads coming out of kitchens that were barely used before, people learning to sew so others can feel safe in masks, kids looking happy they’re home doing new and varied activities with their families, pets the world over wondering how the hell they suddenly got so lucky to be around their owners all the time (also wondering how many more time can we walk today), projects that have been shelved for years are coming to fruition and they look amazing.

We can see what we want to. We can focus on the possibilities or the hurdles. As scary as this time is, it’s almost like a modern day renaissance and perhaps, exactly what we needed. I’m not making light of deaths or sickness, but I will point out that one of the most beautiful and cherished times in our human history came about as the result of a plague which transformed Italy and the world.

Without the Black Death catalyst, we may never have known Titian, Michelangelo, da Vinci, or Botticelli.

I expect that we will come out of this pandemic forever changed, and more eager to ensure the future for our children. People who’ve lost jobs will find side hustles as they’re forced to get creative, and I believe more businesses will be formed because of it. Many businesses will have to adapt or go under BUT it doesn’t mean it’s the end. While normal may have been comfortable, there’s no growth in comfortable.

I’m not in a rush for normal.

XO,

Ashley