A few weekends ago my son got a stomach bug. You know, the throwing-up-all-over-mom-and-dad-and-lying-face-down-on-the-floor-crying kind of bug. Our sweet boy who normally moves constantly (as indicated by the above picture of him face planting), babbles incessantly, and giggles uncontrollably became quiet, tired, and uncharacteristically snuggly. My heart broke when he would crawl up to me and lay his head down on my shoulder – not sleeping, just looking up at me, wondering why he didn’t feel good.
We actually ended up having to take B to the hospital for dehydration. I’ll never forget the pleading look in his eyes as we held him down so the nurses could insert the IV needle – it was absolutely heart-wrenching.
We were finally able to get him calmed down and sleeping on my lap. The Panthers game was playing silently on the TV in the corner. On a normal evening, we would have been watching the game from our home, probably eating some deliciously unhealthy food while B snoozed away in his room. As I glanced at the screen that night, I realized how little I really cared about that game – how little it mattered – compared to the sleeping kiddo on my lap. After many hours, the three of us made our way back home and stumbled into bed. The next few days after that were still a bit off – still lots of cuddling, napping, and quiet time.
And then the next day dawned. I heard B moving around in his crib, and when I walked in, he was standing, facing the door, a big smile spread across his face.
And I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Although it seemed like forever at the time, those days of sickness didn’t really last too long. It was just a few days of “not normal.” But I have to say, since B has started to act like himself again, I have never been so thankful for the normal.
If you’re human, then you’ve had those days – the ones where “normal” might as well be synonymous with “average” or “predictable.” You might feel bored by the routine – bored by the nap schedules, the games of “peek-a-boo,” the Cheerios on the floor, the grocery store trips, the housework. I know I’ve felt that way before.
But as the three of us walked out of the ER the other night, and as I heard the cries of other children and saw the faces of many weary and worried parents, I was reminded of a simple truth: My “normal” can be gone in a single moment.
I say all this to serve as a reminder and encouragement to those who may be feeling the fingers of discontentment slowly and methodically wrapping themselves around you. If you are blessed to have anything as precious as a healthy family and a regular routine, I hope you’ll thank God for that gift and soak up each sweet moment. Because the reality is that it can be gone instantly.
I also say all this as a reminder for us to reach out to those whose normal has been taken away. We all know someone with a sick child or parent. We know someone who just lost his or her job, or someone wrestling with depression, or someone who just got his or her heart broken. And we all have the opportunity to be a friend to these people.
For example, the day after we returned from the hospital, a sweet friend texted me and asked if she could bring us some dinner that night. When she arrived to drop it off and I thanked her, she said simply that she couldn’t do much, but she could make dinner.
Given the fact that both Matt and I had eaten Pop-Tarts and Mountain Dew from the vending machine for dinner the night before, this was one of the best gifts she could have given us. It was one less thing to worry about and gave us a little (and quite delicious) taste of normal.
So if today has been normal – thank God for that gift. And remember that there are people in your life whose normalcy has been shattered, and you have the opportunity to give them something safe and familiar.
Here’s to embracing the normal and passing it along to those who crave it.