At War With Fair and Normal

I’ve been at war with the word Normal lately, although truly I’m too old for this.  How can I have made it thirty years on this earth without truly realizing that Normal is as real as unicorns or delicious microwave dinners.

There is no “normal marriage.”  No matter how much advice I get from the lovely, more experienced wives who mentor me, I always take some of it to heart and leave some behind.

No two souls are identical so it stands to reason that no two marriages are the same either.

It’s fruitless and joy stealing to compare your marriage to that of your friends.

And then there’s children, and parenting… there is no normal here either, is there?

Are there general guidelines for what children need?  Absolutely, resoundingly, yes! Across the board children need love, play, instruction, discipline and nourishment but the delivery of those needs is going to look different inside each door in your neighborhood.

Yet lately I’ve been grieving our abnormal-ness with a depth of pain that’s been close to all consuming.

I may say that I love the unique qualities that define the makeup of our family but deep  inside I want to parent exceptional children with very typical learning styles and behaviors.

I want them to play with the toys like I think they should be played with.

I want them to color for more than 3 minutes at a time.

I want them to put their panties on after their done peeing without my having to chase them around the house with said panties.

Should I go on?

Yet I am coming to terms with the fact that we are not textbook, and I’m starting to wonder if anyone is.  We all have our sack of rocks that we carry, you know, the hard part of our makeup that we can’t get rid of and have to persevere in spite of.

So why this depth and lament for the normal?

I think it’s actually tied up in a weird connection with my deep seated belief in fairness and my messed-up beliefs in the way God protects, or doesn’t protect, his children from pain.

Somewhere deep inside I feel as though I have experienced my fair share of pain and should be safe from any additional intense wounds for the rest of my life.

I want some cosmic guarantee that because I lost my parents suddenly and tragically that my own small family is safe, that my heart has had enough.

But it’s not going to happen.

These flawed and awful views of fair and normal are messing with me these day, on every level.  It’s easy to tell myself to stop believing them and to replace them with biblical truth but dangit if they’re not rooted deep down into my dark and twisty soul.

Those dark parts that wonder if he truly loves me or if I’m some “less than” member of the Christian caste system (which in my head I know doesn’t really exist in the first place)

And so at the end of all the sifting and digging down deep I’m left right where I lay, in bed in a warm home that has borne witness to much joy and deep pain.

In the rooms across the hall snooze my children, These two little people who are just like us, yet totally different.

Are we Normal?  No, we are not.

Is life fair?  No, it is not. And it’s a good thing it’s not because there are many things we deserve that God’s grace has spared us from.

Will I be happier when I remove the words Fair and Normal from my vocabulary and mental processing?  Absolutely I will.

Yet that is not a task done overnight, it will take energy to untangle those knots.  Yet untangle them I must, in the silence of the bathtub, with my head down on the steering wheel of the van, in the quiet of our couch and during strolls around Lake Wintersmith I will put on these strings with tearful questioning.

Yes I will untangle and discard the mess within.

But for now I can sneak into the rooms of those two sleeping, snoring bundles and kiss them while they’re still enough to receive it.

For now I can thank God for all I have been given, a warm bed on a cold night with a fridge full of healthy food.

For now I can be the little spoon to a  husband who supports me with love and understanding.

For now I can thank faithful friends who have stood by me in the hard times and will continue with us as we navigate these new twists and turns.

For now I can ask for these knots to loosen, for the false concepts of fair and normal to be broken and then ask forgiveness of the unfair and gracious God who has given me every good thing.

There is no normal, there is only a diverse and “very good” creation full God’s dearly beloved, you and me.

Do you draw swords against fair and normal too these days?  Shall we fight side by side, you and I?

  • Mark Allman (@Vaderalman)

    I wish I thought we knew what fair is. I know we all long for things to be fair and we shout like hell sometimes when we think it is not. I have come to realize I am a poor judge of fair and I would not know it if it was wearing a sign. I know better than to demand of God fairness for if I did I would have the gates of hell awaiting me. Would I turn God down if he told me that he knew it not fair but he was going to give me more because he knew I could handle it and could bless others because of it? I can not even figure out what is really fair in regard to my kids. They are different and I treat them different. Is that unfair or is it wise?

    I know there is no normal and I relish that it is not. It would be something else I was failing at if it were. I want us to look upon each others flaws as something to love; to love the struggles we each have; to love each other when we are not perfect for that is love; to love all that a person is and what molds and makes them who they are. The good the bad and the ugly. It is grand to love that which is not perfect; for nothing is. I want my family to relish the journey as it takes its turns and twist around and stops and starts. I want us to say what ever comes we will with God’s help overcome. I want us to say wow what a ride… lets do it again. :)

    • leannepenny

      Amen Mark. Especially that last bit 😉

    • Kara G

      I draw comparisons ALL the time, and then have to remind myself — sometimes out loud — that appearances are deceiving. I have to step outside my brain to assess the situation. Have I had a tough morning with the kids? When was the last time I spent some quality time with my husband? What about the last time I treated myself to one of my passions, or a pedicure, for goodness sake? When I interviewed Allison Gilbert (Parentless Parents author) she said something that absolutely resonated with me. When your parents are gone, you have no one to “take care of you” like they did. It’s unfair to expect someone else — a partner, a friend — to take care of you in their stead b/c they already have a role in your life, so you must do it yourself (paraphrased, of course). I find that when I start making depressing comparisons in my brain, it’s time to treat myself. To assess as if your mom and dad were holding your hands and saying, “Honey, you know what you need? A good ______________.” Good luck and may you draw strength from all your loved ones during this season. Thanks for posting.

      • leannepenny

        Wow Kara, that is so great, just amazing and wise advice that I may need to take to heart this afternoon. Or right now… Maybe I should christmas my toes right now.

  • Kara G

    Oh … and we fight, side by side!