What is Normal

My theory is that the hardest work anyone does in life is to appear normal                                                 ~ from the movie Ed TV
Christmas photo shoot ~ Seagate Beach (12/3/11)
Ang and I packed up the kids and headed to the beach Saturday evening right before sunset for our annual Christmas photo shoot. <-- Where that appears to be a relatively normal statement with pretty average sentence structure, correct grammar, and the hint of a rather organized - even professional sounding situation going on, it's really just a sad attempt to 'normalize' what was, in fact, controlled chaos at best.

AJ was tripping over rocks in my Dr. Scholl's and falling into ominous anthills; Lila's incessant pleas for food were making me feel like an incompetent parent; our Publix bag of well intentioned picnic fare to directly follow said shoot was attracting seagulls by the dozen; Ang's patience was off taking a quiz; and any creative direction was out fishing on the horizon, giving us the bird as he cracked open some cold ones. (Bottom line: Ang and I have a new appreciation for child photographers.)

I asked myself numerous times that night: "Is this normal? Are we normal? Is it OK to try so hard to get a great photo, when we alternately despise such controlled settings?" And then the kicker? We gave the kids instruments as props for the photos, and I found myself telling them to stop looking down and playing music, and to look up and smile at the camera, instead. I almost had to laugh. I mean, here we are trying to express the essence of music in our evening's photography, and yet when AJ and Lila are actually playing music, it's not acceptable? Bullocks, I say! (So totally always wanted to say that. Sounds just as natural and normal for me as when I say brilliant in order to come off as a cool, aloof British actress wearing Uggs, a scarf, and a Dead Milkmen tee at the Sundance Festival. Mmmm... doesn't really work for my middle-aged, 100% American self. *sigh*)

So the kids played their instruments, we got a sweet lil shot we're happy with for our holiday card, and then we scarfed down those Publix subs like there was no tomorrow, alleviating some of the guilt and offering sustenance for AJ's next Dr. Scholls trip down the embankment.

I often wonder about the idea of what is normal... On any given day, I may ask myself, "Is it normal that:

  • AJ sometimes eats tunafish for breakfast?"
  • the kids have been jumping into bed with us at 3am on a regular basis?"
  • when the kids join us in bed, I have bad dreams about being kicked in the head, only to awake suddenly after having been kicked in the head?"
  • I haven't started Christmas shopping?"
  • I am slightly obsessed with Patty Stanger?"
  • I have become entirely zen with the realization that my dresser/closet (hell, the whole bedroom) will never be clean until the kids enter college?"
  • the kids have been wearing to school whatever's on top of the clean clothes basket every day since we got back from Thanksgiving break?"
  • I wear winter sweaters with flip-flops?"
  • I'm being insanely mellow about the launch of my new business?"
The absence of normal, per se, in my life is incredibly normal to us. On any given day, we'll either skip out for an ice cream dinner at last minute's notice and watch the sunset, or stay in to eat my boring-ass chicken 'n veggies and maybe watch a Beethoven movie. Some mornings over here call for tunafish, milk, and a side of Gogurt. Others necessitate a bike ride around the block and some Honey Nut Cheerios. We have tantrums or love fests, book readings or smack downs, doggie trains or fashion shows. It's all normal here. Not only allowed, but adulated.

I'm getting used to our normal, which is anything but. Normal can contain the mundane, but it's not defined by it. Normal for us is all about being confident that what makes us happy and healthy is a good thing, whether or not it's popular or easy... Whatever is normal, whatever works, whatever fits a life and adds to its quality, this is what I admire and what should be focused on, in my mind.

Normal should be playing your own music when you're handed instruments. Normal can be kisses to the head after it's been kicked. Normal (for us) will be putting an end to qualifying anything as 'normal' or not. 

Normal can be faraway family...
Or make-believe...


One who walks in another's tracks leaves no footprints ~ Proverb


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