Tuesday, April 08, 2008

There Are "Normal" Days, Too

Sometimes I feel a little guilty about the blog posts I write, because by and large I blog those events that are traumatic or disappointing or frustrating. I suppose part of my intent is to share these incidents honestly so that other parents of challenging children will not feel so alone. The world of parents navigating a child's mental illness or socially inappropriate behaviors of norm-breaking experiences is so very different from that of "normal" families that I feel compelled to focus, perhaps too often, on the difficulties.

But, the truth of the matter is, there are "normal" days, too. Like today, for example.

Claudia needed to be out of the house by 6:45 this morning, and the kids had a "late start" (school two hours later than normal) so I stayed home and got them on their way to school. Our usual pattern is that Claudia gets up quite early to go to the "Y," shortly before I awaken and get ready for the day. By the time she returns I can be on my way to the office, arriving as early as 6:30 or 7:00. Those precious minutes before activity begins to bustle in the areas surrounding mine at the church serve me so well. I have become a morning person over the past decade or so, although I'm not completely sure why that is. I then spend the remainder of the morning through mid-afternoon at the office, returning home for the after-school rush and remaining home through dinner time (usually I am the cook, or at least the coordinator of the meals). Then, following dinner I either retreat to my bedroom to relax, or head out to a church meeting, or some other family-related activity.

This morning, then, was a luxury of sorts. I arrived home late last night from a church meeting, so I didn't feel too bad about taking the morning off. In the quiet of the home in those first hours I was able to get myself ready and then moved toward fulfilling several children's prior evening's request for pancakes and sausage for breakfast. As I began to cook the sausage in the quiet of the morning I reflected to myself that this was the way I spent many of my mornings in my previous church appointment. I often cooked breakfast and saw the kids off to school before I went to the office. Since moving to his church two years ago, though, my pattern has changed. I realized this morning how much I have missed the "dad makes breakfast before we go to school" life that we used to have.

I had the luxury of awakening, stage by stage, our children, managing to serve them hot pancakes in the process. (When you have a large family the process of making pancakes so that they are hot and edible can be a daunting one. There's only so much room on the griddle at a time). Today everyone was able to have hot pancakes in the size and quantity that they requested, with minimal at-table disturbance (there are always one or two kids who find sibling torment a delightful enterprise).

With time to spare the breakfast deed was accomplished, and I began the process of transporting six kids to three different schools spread across our community. Even our oldest daughter, for whom mornings are not always tolerable, was pleasant. By the time I finished dropping everyone to their respective schools nearly an hour had elapsed, and as I walked through the door I took a moment to pet our faithful dog, Gizmo, and luxuriated in the opportunity to have nearly two hours of blissful silence before departing to come to the office.

See, there are normal days, even for parents of troubled kids. And that really helps balance the many other days which are often as close to hell as one can imagine.

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