I am a creature of habit. For as long as I can remember, I have maintained a variation of the same school-day schedule. By schedule, I mean routine norms I do daily, without waver. For example, I fix exactly one cup of coffee as soon as I wake every morning. Nothing unusual there you're probably thinking. I mean, most people drink coffee; it's a typical routine. Okay, then, how about this one. Until the 2013-14 school year, I called my grandfather every school morning at the same time. Every. Single. Morning. So, from 1996 to May of 2014, my grandfather and I chatted each morning. Or, how about this one. Nearly every day of my life I talked with my mother multiple times, especially in the afternoons. Every. Single. Day. No big deal, you may think, we all have special people we talk with daily . While that may be true, I wonder if you have experienced an end to those routines? If so, you may know where I am headed . . . making it through the new normal.
The hum-drum of a routine, to some, may seem tiresome; however, I find it soothingly normal. I need to hear the same voices, see the same people, and eat or drink the same foods about as much as I need water. Normalcy is just part of my DNA. So, you can imagine how jolting the past two months have been. For two months and two days the number one "normal", my constant . . . my mother . . . has been gone. For two months and six days, my partner, my Robin, has been absent across the hall. For three months and 23 days, my firstborn, Marlee Rose, has been away at college. That means the routines of many, many years, especially my mother's unwavering love and support, have been noticeably absent. To say it has been a struggle is an understatement.
So, how does one find the new normal after heartbreak? To be honest, I have no idea. I'm still digging through the rubble of cancer's aftermath. My heart is still breaking. You will not find secret hints about life here. I can't tell you how to live or what to do when normal is swept away. All I can do is define the new normal.
The new normal is scary.
It is scary to find yourself in a place of uncertainty, whether good or bad circumstances. The old routines often define us. For example, I never realized how much my mother calmed me after a disappointing day. Mothers are known to make things better. My mother? She moved the world for my sister and me. Moving day to day without mother's guidance and (ahem) bossing is scary to say the least. The only way I have been able to soothe that fear is through my faith in the Lord.
Re-evaluating roles is a necessary evil found in the new normal.
The figurative "passing of the baton" is a living, breathing part of the change process. Every routine that changes must be replaced by something. For my family, re-evaluating roles is the worst part of the "new normal" definition. How can a larger-than-life person be replaced? Who is strong enough to not only catch but run with mom's baton? Where do we go for the holidays?
The Lord is helping me through this one, a milestone at a time.
Mourning comes with the new normal.
The real strength isn't always found through showing a brave face. Oftentimes true character surfaces when you aren't afraid to show you are a living, breathing person. You may need help and feel afraid to ask for it. Don't worry about appearing weak. I spent much of the last year afraid to show the weakness of mourning (my family experienced two deaths last year alone). For some reason, I felt mourning showed weakness. How silly! A dear friend recently reminded me of places in the Bible where people mourned, such as when Moses died. This same friend also reminded me to take up the mantle after my mourning period, dust myself off, and go forward. The first step, though, is allowing time to mourn.
So there you have it. The New Normal. Much like learning, the new normal is a messy and uncomfortable process. There are days I want to give up. Other days, I am on top of the world. To find success in this newly mixed up world, I cleave to my faith and focus on the little things that matter the most. Sure, it's a cliche', but focusing on faith, family, and friends makes all the difference.
I'd love to hear from you. Let me know about your hardships and lessons with living through the new normal.
Kimberly Barrett, NBCT, Bachelor of Arts of English, Murray State University, 1996, Master's Degree in English, MSU, 2004
Blessed to teach since 1996, I spend my days doing exactly what I've always wanted to do . . . TEACH. I'm married to the sweetest man alive, Tim, and we have two beautiful babies, Marlee Rose and Beau Wilson.