Right after I had my first child (almost six years ago now), I remember feeling like the very hardest part about all of it…and there was a lot that was hard….was not having my “normal” anymore. It was, and still is, the weirdest feeling to me. You live in the same house. It’s full of all your same stuff. You are married to the same person. The people who are stopping by for visits, and bringing you meals are all of the same friends you had before the baby came. And yet….EVERYTHING feels different. It’s like living in a parallel universe. Everything is the same…and everything is so, so changed. In general, I HATE change. Even when I love the REASON for the change…sweet, precious, new life…I still hate the feeling of having my “normal” messed with. I like to get into a routine and stick with it. Forever. It rattles me A LOT to have things changed up. I remember all of my friends at that time telling me, “it won’t feel strange and different forever. This will become your NEW normal, and it will be good, and you won’t even remember the old normal”. And I did NOT believe them. No matter that they ALL echoed the same sentiment. I still didn’t believe them. Nope, I was going to be stuck in weird, and unfamiliar Parallel Universe forever. And then…suddenly…I wasn’t. Somewhere, and I couldn’t even pinpoint where (but I suspect it didn’t take ALL that long), I popped right out of that strange world, and right back into normal. It was a new normal for sure, but it really was just so very normal. Until my second child came along four years later. And the cycle repeated. And then I got pregnant again..two years later. And during my whole third pregnancy, I prepped myself for this….for feeling rattled and shaken and off-kilter and strange and foreign and just…not normal. I reminded myself, “when that feeling inevitably comes, don’t stress. You know it’s temporary. You’ve been there, done that.”
And yet…here I am….6 days after giving birth, and already wondering when/if life is never going to feel normal again. Right now, conversation with my husband feels a little weird, a little strained, a little forced. We are both exhausted. We are both a little nervous about what life with 3 kids is going to look like, and yet both trying to assure the other one, in word and in countenance, that it’s all going to be just fine. I know I SHOULD be sleeping instead of talking, in the who-knows-how-many minutes before Baby wakes up again. But I haven’t talked to my husband ALL DAY, and I’m craving just a FEW minutes with him. So, we start to talk, and then…..the dreaded sound of the baby starting to make…noise. What does that noise mean? Is he just moving around and getting comfortable? Does he want to eat? Is this about to set off an hour long cry fest? At any rate, it’s all I’m thinking about now, and conversation is done. Are we ever going to have good quality time again? Is it ever going to feel NORMAL again?
My middle child (oh my gosh, I have a MIDDLE CHILD now) is only two, and he has NO IDEA what the heck happened to HIS “normal” life. He walks around and looks at me with sad, wounded eyes, and pathetic cries to hold him, while I’m trying to breastfeed, and I stare back at him with the same sad, wounded eyes, thinking, “poor baby! My neglect of you right now is probably scarring you for life. Are you ever going to be your NORMAL happy self again???”.
Friends have been popping in and out, bringing meals and meeting the baby, and they all just look so rested and refreshed. Dropping dinner by, on their way out for a date night, on their way home from getting ice cream, or hanging out at the pool. Home to eat dinner themselves, get their kids to bed, and curl up on the couch and watch the Bachelor. How nice and normal. That’s what I would typically be doing. I bet THEY aren’t going to be up until 3 am with a crying baby, and then up again to stay at 6 am, trying to act and seem NORMAL having only gotten 3 hours of sleep. I bet I won’t ever have good sleep again. I bet with three kids, you just don’t ever really go back to sleeping. Yes it’s true that both of my other kids quickly learned to sleep through the night, and from that point on have always gone to bed at 7:30, and been GREAT sleepers. That won’t happen with this one, though. Nope. I will be here, bouncing and “ssh, shh, sshh-ing” my baby around the house for the rest of my life. I will never get NORMAL sleep again. I just know it.
Ok, I could go on and on, but you get the idea. If you, like me, are the type of person who prefers for things to stay the same, then… no matter how much you love and are thankful for that precious new bundle you just brought home…you’re also yearning for “normal”. As you are rocking them to sleep each night, they are rocking your world…and it feels weird. So allow me to give myself a pep talk really quick, and you can listen in too, if you think it would be helpful:
“Things ARE going to get back to normal. It will be a new normal, but it will be YOUR normal, and it will be be better, and richer, and sweeter, and fuller than the “normal” you had before. It’s ok to feel weird and unsettled for a few weeks or months. In fact, THAT is normal. You WILL go on dates with your husband again. You WILL get in bed at a reasonable hour and sleep all night long again. You WILL fit in your old clothes…and if you don’t, buy some new and better ones. You WILL discover a whole new set of routines, schedules, and systems. You will get into a new groove. You will get into a new niche. Don’t rush it. THIS TIME IS SWEET, TOO. Once your norm returns, you may actually find yourself MISSING these sweet and sleepless first days, with your tiny one, who is only going to get less and less tiny every single day. In fact, you definitely WILL, because even as you are wishing for these days to hurry by…head down, focused, just plowing through the newborn haze… you are already remembering and reminiscing about when your other two were this little, and you’re missing it.”
I have already spent considerable time thinking and planning and marking down on my calendar when all my “normal” stuff can start back up:
Two Weeks: I can start lifting and holding my two year old again
Six Weeks: Working out, bubble baths, swimming pools….whatever else ; )
Eight Weeks: School will start back up for my older boys, and I will have some moments to breathe again
Twelve Weeks: Baby will start sleeping through the night (hey, my other two did, anyway)
On and on and on. But…I have resolved to stop thinking that way. In future dates and plans. I want to cherish the NOW. Because right now, there is SO MUCH to cherish..and I don’t want to miss any of it, in my mad dash back to “normal”.