“So, when do things get normal again?”
I was recently asked this question by a friend who does not yet have children. She had just finished listening to another friend and I swap stories of sleepless nights, preschool adventures and, the most fun, accidentally sparking debates when talking to other parents at the park. (The new social taboos you must never talk about at parties are: Politics, religion, and whether or not you let your children watch television.)
“Well, uh,” we stammered while trying to respond to her honest question. We sputtered out blurbs like, “there are stages!” “There are times it gets easy! But then…” There were a lot of pauses and “wells…”
There is no normal, finally I sighed, somewhat prophetically, me and the eerie little boy in “The Matrix” telling Neo “there is no spoon.”
Of all the things you can tell a new parent, from the intense love, to the constant worry, to the five million trillion gazillion tips and tricks out there–we swaddled! We Ferberized! We attachment parented! We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best!–one statement universally holds true: Nothing stakes a marker in your life like the birth of your children. Once you have kids, everything changes. And no, I don’t mean your sleep life, your sex life, your stomach, your pledge to never again wear thong underwear. I mean everything about the entire world changes. The way you see it. The way you see your place in it. The way you look at your spouse. Your parents. Your childhood. The way you are able to hone in on this one thing so clearly–your children–and see that their safety is the only thing that matters. That’s it. If “normal” is life before you have children, then life after is…is…
…”What coffee cup do you want to use?” I asked your dad last weekend, freezing with my arm reached halfway into the cabinet.
“Can I just have a normal one?” he said.
I turned and blinked at him. “What do you mean?”
“All of our coffee cups are ridiculous. They all have animals on them.”
I moved my pinky away from a mug that had giant red lips on it and says in cursive “hot lips.”
“What about this one?” I held up a cream mug with different shape and size mustaches on it. “This one’s kind of normal…”
He got up and helped himself to another that just his initial on it, one giant “M.”
…Last night while watching the season premiere of “Modern Family,” Cameron sat on the couch with his two-toned pink shirt clutching a coffee mug.
I paused the show, thanks to the magic of modern television.
“BABE!” I exclaimed pointing at the screen. “Look at the mug he’s using! It’s my mustache mug! Look! Look!”
Sure enough, in the character Cameron’s hands, was my mustache mug.
“Wow!” I said.
“Wow,” your dad said, with a deeper tone.
“I mean, that says something right?”
“That a flamboyant TV character set in Los Angeles has the same weird coffee cup as you? Yes, that says something.”
“I mean, that’s not normal. That’s not a coincidence. We were just talking about this. This is a sign. This is…something.”
“Oh,” he said, “it’s not normal, but’s it’s definitely something.”
…So going back to my friend’s original question.
“When do you go back to normal?”
You don’t. But you definitely fall into something.