Last week, I sent my boss a text that sums up what my new normal looks like right now.
I walked into the garage to grab something from the freezer today. I come inside to child #2* crying because child #1* called him a name. Child #2 told child #1 she would have no friends because she’s bossy. I took #1’s phone and banned #2 from the TV. They both got mad at me. So that encouraged solidarity of siblings, right? (*Names withheld to protect the not-so innocent.)
As another suddenly home-schooling, working mom of two, she could relate.
None of us saw ourselves in this situation. And while we love the extra time with our families (in fact, it’s at the top of my gratitude prayers), none of us would have chosen this route to get there.
So, what is this new normal I keep hearing everyone speak of? Honestly? I don’t know. The kids are bored, cranky, and feeling caged in. The husband and I don’t feel much different. And none of us would describe our lives right now as normal.
When your new normal feels anything but
My family is still struggling to find our groove in all of this. (Just nod in agreement to make me feel better about myself.) We’re a few weeks in, and I’m still feeling a little frazzled most days.
Develop a new routine, common sense and a slew of articles and experts tell me. Make sure the kids are still on a schedule but be flexible. Sure. I’ll be so flexible that I let them sleep in until whenever because those are the only uninterrupted work hours I’ll have until 10 p.m.
Just the other day, I sat across from my son, skimming a home-school packet from his teacher and arguing about the life cycle of a dang butterfly. At the same time, my work computer beckoned me with chat and email notifications I still hadn’t responded to. Friends sent texts I wanted to reply to.
It feels hard to focus on anything when everything calls you. That’s kind of what this new normal feels like. Work is still on (also high on my gratitude list); School is still on. It’s all just different. And it feels all on me. And while I’m thankful home isn’t canceled, my patience sure is.
But I feel guilty about all of it. Guilty for not getting that work assignment in on time. Or for sharply telling my son to hush during the live stream of our church’s service (who’s gonna hear him?). Guilty for feeding my family leftovers three nights in a row. And for not having regular craft time with the kids (bedazzled toilet paper cozy, anyone?).
I even feel a little guilty for admitting all this now. I’m the mom, I remind myself. I’m supposed to be the one to have it all together.
It’s OK if things look a little crazy
Right now, I’d love to offer you some great tips on organizing your family … finding time for what matters most … or even how to get the local grocery to honor the two for one coupon day when they’re limiting you to only one of those items (because everybody’s stockpiling dill pickles apparently).
But I can’t. Not today anyway. Today was hard.
This afternoon, I found myself hiding in my closet munching on the kids’ Easter candy. Because I just needed a minute. Time to clear my head and calm my nerves. I texted a friend and called my mom. They both reminded me of something I knew but wasn’t accepting: It’s OK for my new normal to look a little wacky right now.
If I have to lower the standard for how structured my kids “schooling” looks, that’s OK. Or if my productivity at work is lower than I’m used to, I can say so without feeling like a slacker. Or If I’m having a few extra cups of coffee to get me through the day … just kidding. That’s the old normal, too.
If I’m learning anything amid this crisis (it’s not likely I’m learning much), it’s this: I have control of very little, and my life won’t look like it did a few weeks ago for maybe some time. And that sounds crazy, but it’s completely out of my control. So, all those unrealistic standards I’m setting for myself based on that life—that’s a little crazy, too.
No one’s new normal looks normal now
Just before I sent my boss the “update” of my day, she sent me a lovely picture of mom-ing at it’s finest. But it wasn’t a product of her own day. It was someone else’s. “My kids played alone today!” she replied.
That made me feel a little better. Her “new normal” wasn’t perfect either. And I’ll bet yours looks a little wacky, too. We’re all figuring this mess out together. And some days are going to be harder than others.
But you know what? That’s OK. Wacky might be our new normal.
Copyright © 2020 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Lisa Lakey is a writer and editor for FamilyLife. Before joining the ministry in 2017, she was a freelance writer covering parenting and Southern culture. She and her husband, Josh, have been married since 2004. Lisa and Josh live in Benton, Arkansas, with their two children, Ella and Max.