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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

Normal Isn’t On the Menu

normal isn't on the menu

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Normal Isn’t On the Menu

It’s a hard time to be a parent right now.

I can feel the trepidation and frustration in their frantic posts. They’re worried for their kids, emotionally and academically. It’s been a rough few months, having to balance work and childcare, trying to be a parent while also playing the heavy when it comes to schoolwork. They desperately want their kids back in school so that they can reconnect with their friends, not fall too far behind academically and have structure again. Yet they’re also scared. Unsure about the safety plans put forth and the ability of children to follow guidelines. They crave the normal fears and excitement that surround a new school year.

It’s a hard time to be a teacher right now.

We’ve struggled teaching into the void with emergency distance learning and we’ve been worried about the well-being of our students. We desperately want to get back into the classroom where we can verify that each child is okay and we can facilitate the energy and excitement and community that form around learning together. Yet we’re also unsure, trying to problem-solve how to build a sense of collaboration when students are distanced and masked while simultaneously working on developing virtual lessons. Underlying that is fear. Fear that we’re going to see our students get sick and our colleagues fall ill. We wish we we’re busy decorating our new rooms instead of trying to make them safer.

It’s a hard time to be a human right now.

Back in the spring, we all had a sense of, “Okay. If we do this for a couple months, we can then get back to normal.” And now we’re here. Months have passed and there is still no end in sight. We know we can’t lock down forever, but we’re struggling to figure out how to live in this new world. We’re all grieving the way things were just a few short months ago. We all want normal.

But normal isn’t on the menu.

I see so many people (myself included) fighting against that fact. Arguing that normal must be available, maybe it’s just hidden in the back stockroom. That if we just ask nicely enough – or scream loudly enough – that normal will be served.

As far as defining moments go, this has been an odd one. Often, these life-changing events are quite sudden, clearly delineating a before and after – the accident that takes a life, the DDay where you learn of an affair, the diagnosis that steals your health. With those, it’s clear that there is no returning back to way things were. They require a recalibration of normal.

But this one snuck up on us, allowing for plenty of denial along the way. If we can believe that this is overblown, we can get back to normal. Or, if we cherrypick our data, we can convince ourselves that normal is just around the corner. We place our faith in an election, a vaccine or a treatment. But those are not quick fixes, flipping the switch back to normal.

Because right now and for the foreseeable future, normal isn’t on the menu.

It’s time to explore what IS on the menu.

We all tend to veer towards what we know. It’s comfortable and we like to be comfortable. Part of what makes this so hard is that we feel like we have no control. We want to choose different, not have it forced down our gullet.

Yet we’re here. Hungry to live again. And until we accept that normal isn’t available, we won’t be able to partake of what still is on the table.

And just maybe, we’ll find that some of the new options are preferable to the old and that we choose to leave some of normal behind.

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