Being sick is miserable. Being sick and having your husband sick and your three little one sick – that’s miserable on a whole new level. Even the tiniest things become monumentally difficult. Emptying a dishwasher. Putting a little one to bed. Making supper. Time takes on a strange, slow quality that makes the days feel endless and though you know – of course you know – that this too shall pass, somehow, you feel like life will never go back to normal.
But then, it does.
One merry day, you all wake up and the sniffles and sneezes and coughs and headaches and fevers have disappeared. The kids are bouncy and talkative and positive again. The sun itself seems to shine more brightly. The Tylenol and Ibuprofen bottles go back into the bathroom cabinet. The tissue boxes get collected up. And the things that felt so hard when everyone was sick – in fact, the things that felt so hard before everyone got sick because you took the relative ease of everyday life for granted – now feel like a breeze.
When my husband came home from dropping our five year old off at school the other day, he said: ‘I’d forgotten how much I enjoy normal drop off – just rushing in and saying hi to the parents and giving Tennessee a hug and watching all the other kids greeting each other. I’m going to try and remember to appreciate the normal days more.’
And it got me thinking how easy it is to take the normal for granted. Because life is hard, even when it’s not as hard as it could be. Simply parenting three small children is hard. The everyday business of living, is hard. But relatively speaking, the normal days, the days when the kids are just about okay, when they’re healthy and only being their usual form of uncooperative and demanding (Willoughby flipping over every time we change his diaper; Somerset refusing to eat anything with any kind of vitamin content; Tennessee tagging an ‘it’s not fair’ to the end of every sentence) – those days are actually wonderful days. Special days. Days that are just about being a family and the rough of tumble of growing up together. They’re filled with challenges but also with a million and one beautiful and hilarious moments; moments of kindness and empathy and love and fun.
As a writer, that’s how I see the rhythms of my novels: the ordinariness that, juxtaposed with the challenges and the struggles and the obstacles in the lives of my characters, make the world of my stories real. The one highlighting and making sense of the other. There’s a reason, I believe, for these human and natural rhythms. The highs and the lows. The moments of sickness and then health. They teach us about ourselves and each other and how to live life. They teach us how to appreciate the normal – how to cherish it.
So, as we move into a new season in our lives, a few weeks of ordinariness, we’re working hard to cherish the normal. To not take it for granted. To see the magic in the everyday.