Monday, July 23, 2012

Motherhood This Week: On Not Bungling the Blessing of Normal


I wrote a lot of dreamy posts about summer back in May and June.  And my thrill over time together with the kids (all day, every day, on and on and on) lasted about a month, and then I started getting burned out on all the togetherness, and the whining, and the sameness of the days.  The weather's been hot and dry, the pool water has grown warm, we've baked fifty-leven batches of cookies, and I've rinsed the stickiness of three econo-sized boxes of frozen fruit pops off the back porch stairs and un-crusted several cans of PlayDoh from the playroom carpet.

I'll be honest, I'd begun to feel a little Dudes, I think it's time for you two to go stay at Grandma's for a while-ish, if you know what I mean.

And then I went to visit my sister in Virginia.  The sister with the son who has been in the hospital almost perpetually since late March.  The sister whose summer, full of complicated medical charts, IV beeps, broken hospital sleep, bad hospital food and constant, relentless worry, has been anything but boring.  Anything but normal.

I was standing at my kitchen sink this morning, with a child whining in each ear about what he and she did and didn't want for breakfast, bickering over the pink cup, asking me for already the hundredth time that day, What-are-we-gonna-do-ooo-ooo-today-Mo-o-om? and I started wondering  just how much Grandma-time it'd take for me to get back to my glowy summer mode again.   More than Grandma could give me, I surmised.  And then I thought about my sister, who is away from at least one, and if not that one then the other four of her kids, for three or four days at a stretch, who spends her days cooped up and isolated in a hospital room, dealing with sick, sad, scary stuff no child or parent should ever have to endure, and wishing for some day-to-day, dragging-on-and-on, one-after-another summer days with her family together at home, free and normal.

This pretty much shut me up about Grandma-time.

I'm glowing again, by the sheer force of gratitude and empathy.  I will not bungle the blessing of normal.  I will not overlook for a moment the peaceful simplicity of days-on-end sameness.  I will love what is special about every redundant moment, and cherish a child in each ear, whining and bickering or not, and even send up thanks for that knock on my bathroom door mid-stream, banged out by a child who is home, and healthy, and blissfully unappreciative of everything he has been given, and not been given, this summer.

As luck would have it, my sister Jackie and sweet Owen spoke this morning on NPR's Morning Edition about how Child Life Specialists help make their time in the hospital a little bit more normal.  

Give them a listen here:

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  1. This just comes right out my heart into your words. I have two friends who aren't "living normally" right now. One has a 4 year old daughter who is about 12 days into a bone marrow transplant in hopes to stop a disease that could potentially turn into leukemia. The other has a one week old baby who was born about 5 weeks early. Both have been at the hospital, just like your sister. And I have been sitting here like you, thinking all this togetherness is overrated. But this gentle reminder just says to me that boys get extra cuddles and my friends get extra prayers....because any of us could be in their shoes. Glad you had a good visit with your sister.

  2. Yes, yes, yes. A child from our city is at the Mayo Clinic right now receiving a bone marrow translplant -- pretty much makes me was to weep with gratitude for the normal "annoyances" I get to put up with . . .

  3. Love every bit of this friend. Especially good to read on a Monday morning in mid-July, when Corey will travel some this week and I will be ALONE with all four kids.

    This is much-needed perspective.

  4. This kind of perspective is pretty radical, huh? I'm so sorry for Owen's struggle and what your sister is going through, but it sounds like God IS working in this...

  5. I needed this exact post this morning. It brought years to my eyes.. I have been feeling the same way. Thanks for putting life back in perspective! Praying for your sisters family.

  6. Great post today Megan - something all us mom's struggle with from time to time.
    When I read the NPR article I was reminded of how much the child life specialists helped us when my son had brain surgery last year. They made the days bearable for us all, giving Eli games to play, movies to watch & even a magician to entertain him one day.
    And being in the oncology unit during his recovery was a reminder for me to count my blessings. Although what we went through was hard, we were only there for a short time. Seeing all those beautiful bald kids & their families stuck there for months & months helped me remember to be grateful even on the hard days.
    My prayers are with your sister & her family!

  7. Oh, my friend, how I needed to hear this today. I've slipped into a little bit of a pity party myself in the last week or so. "I will not bungle the blessing of normal." I won't.

  8. Yes, needed to read this today. Thank you, MFC, reminder noted. xo to Owen and his mama. And you.

  9. WOW! That is your sister and nephew?! I heard that this morning! Totally agree that "normal" is WAY UNDER-rated!! I was a hospital worker for 12+ years, and was constantly reminded of how our health and our family's should never be taken for granted. Best wishes for your sister and her family.

  10. Oh, wise words, friend. Thank you for this.

  11. Hi Megan - I'm not sure if you will know who I am, but I am Angie Houston's older sister. I found your blog by accident one evening after Angie commented on the most precious picture of your children. I became entranced by the blog and read almost every post one evening. I love hearing your daily tales about your family, and especially like the style tips. I've already incorporated some of them into my wardrobe as we have some similar pieces. Please pass along best wishes to Jackie and Owen and let them know so many people are pulling for him.
    Letitia Jolly

    1. Well of COURSE I know who you are, Letitia! I remember you and Angie having loving sisterly um... disagreements ... in your basement hideaway back when Angie and I would talk on the phone for hours on end way back in 6th grade! How absolutely wonderful to hear from you! I have loved connecting with Angie on Facebook, and I see you commenting and appearing in pictures there frequently. I am so flattered and touched that you have read the old blog and enjoyed it. It's like my third child, so naturally anyone who says nice things about immediately becomes my favorite person in the world. :) Thank you so much for commenting to let me know you're reading... You have made my entire week! xoxo

  12. I feel like every time I come to your blog, I end up reading the EXACT thing that I need to hear at that moment. So, once again, THANK YOU. I needed this tonight. xoxo

  13. Oh, how I wish I had read this post earlier on in the summer. I remember my sis saying while she was pregant that "normal" had become her new favorite word and favorite way to be. Thanks for the reminder today.

  14. "I'm glowing again, by the sheer force of gratitude and empathy."

    I'm glad you are making room for that force in your life, friend. And thank you for sharing honestly.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing! Prayers for your sister and her son. This is such a wonderful meeting space!