Finding a new normal

Every time a major change happens within a family, it takes a while to find a new normal. This is true if you move, or change jobs, or add a child, either by birth or adoption. All of these things throw you out of your normal schedules and routines that instead of being automatic, much of life requires actual thought. It is the routines of life that allow us to spend energy on things other than just getting through the day. Changes, even small ones, shift our energy from extras and back to the basics.

After 10 children, you would think that I have this down, but it catches me by surprise every time. I know that we will have a time of finding our feet again, but I think I always underestimate how long this process actually takes and how much energy I am using to reach this new equilibrium. It is only after life begins to head back to its more automatic nature that I realize how much work it has actually been.

I think we are beginning to find our new normal around here. How can I tell? Well, there's a couple of ways. First, I am starting to feel able to tackle all of the stuff that I let slide during the last six months. My bedroom had become quite the dumping ground for, well, everything. It seemed as though whenever there was something no one knew what to do with, it ended up in my bedroom. That stuff along with outgrown clothes, bags of fabric which was given to me, laundry, a mending pile taller than some of my children, and dust. While it is not back to being what anyone would call clean and organized, I have made a start and can actually see progress. Even two weeks ago, I couldn't dredge up the energy to do anything about it, but now I can work on it in small amounts and it feels good.

The other way to tell that we are starting to settle in to our new way of life, is that I am starting to take an interest in things other than just getting through the day. Sewing for instance. You will have noticed a distinct lack of my sharing anything I've made in the last few months and that is because there was nothing to share. I did start a set of twirly dresses for G. and L., but they are still not done. They may never be done because they were for summer and it is not summer anymore and they will be much bigger next year. (I may still finish them so they can be worn at least once and just stick tights and sweaters on as well. Anyone out there have girl twins who are 2? I'll pass them along.) But now I'm starting to think maybe I could sew again. I seem to have a little more brain space these days to think about it again. You could also throw baking into that same category, or the never-ending house beautification projects.

If I could go back in time by about a year, there would be a few things I would remind myself. The first would be to just not have any expectations as to what is going to get done. I always compound the problem by thinking that I will be able to do things and then am doubly disappointed when they are not completed. Just removing that extra self-imposed stress would be helpful. The other thing would be to try to get ahead on projects before the new child comes home. That way there is a buffer before things really start to fall apart and the new normal appears. I always seem to do it the wrong way 'round and think that because I tend to hunker down and not do a whole lot of outside activities when a new child comes home that means I will have time to do a lot of household projects. It just doesn't work that way. There is no extra time when you are integrating a new child into a family. This is true whether the child is a newborn or 12. And I would give myself this grace period for at least 9 months. That is a much more realistic expectation than a month or so. It may be that the new normal arrives sooner, but this way it is a bonus if it does.

I know that this feeling of finding my feet again also has to do with some healing we are seeing in TM. It is still so new and so tenuous that I hesitate to mention it, but we see glimmerings of hope. Please keep praying for him. God is doing a truly amazing work inside of this boy.


Shonya said…
Oh wow! That was a post exactly for me! We've moved twice this year--the end of January and the middle of August. And I'm feeling impatient with myself for struggling for "normal". Thanks for the reminder that it's a *new* normal and it takes time.

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