Monthly Archives: May 2011

Nothing is Normal

– Contributed by Wee C

I’m known as the mother amongst my friends. A term I’m sure they use with affection. Right, friends? I’m generally nurturing and caring and make sure you have the biggest bowl of pasta your belly can handle…followed promptly by dessert and cappuccino, of course. You know, like an Italian Mama…minus the Italian part. But a real mother, I am not. I’ve not harboured a child in my womb, licked my finger to clean my child’s face, or carried 10 tons of supplies like a personal Sherpa to my infant baby. No, the closest I have come to being a mother is teaching a bunch of tykes to ski. If that counts, I could be a pretty good mom if I ever choose to venture down that road. But until then, I have absolutely no authority on the subject. Which is why I may not have any business writing this blog post.

One of my oldest and dearest friends, and her wonderful husband (also a dear friend, just of the newer variety), recently had a babe. A precious, beautiful baby boy. I’ve spent a lot of time with them over the past six weeks, and I gotta tell you, I’ve noticed a few things. There’s not much that’s normal about their lives. For those of you who are parents, none of this will come as news. But for me, the contrast between life before and after is glaring. Five different options for carrying baby on your back or chest can be found in their home. What happened to the simplicity of the Snugglie?! My friend sits and visits with me with a pumping contraption strapped to her chest, and acts as if this is all very normal. Tummy time has suddenly become the event of the day. And I wish for Mom and Dad’s sake that this was actually the dirty activity it sounds like it is. It’s not. Nothing. Absolutely nothing about their lives is normal.

Which got me to thinking. There are a lot of similarities between their lives and mine right now. ‘Cause not much about my life is what I would have once considered normal. I don’t live in the same place, I don’t sleep in the same bed, I don’t do the same things. For the first while, I really fought to retain some degree of normalcy amidst a whole lot of change. I thought that would help me. Normal is what’s right. Right? I suspect my friends are feeling much the same way. Wanting things to be normal is normal.

But there are a few flaws with seeking normal: you’re inevitably living in the past, you’re missing what’s special about the present, and you’re not being honest with yourself. Because, guess what, if you’re trying to get “back to normal”, you’ve already lost it. Although I can’t imagine why you would want it back anyway. Going back to normal means you’d have to give up everything new in your life; those things weren’t normal before. Instead, we need to create a new normal. Yes, the things we loved about life before can be brought forward. We just need to figure out how to blend the old with the new and make that feel, well, normal.

Normal has somehow become a crutch for many of us. Wanting, wishing for what we think is normal prevents us from having to deal with the discomfort of what’s not. Chasing after normal fools us into think that we’re adjusting to our new reality. For me, as soon as I stopped trying to find normal in my life, I found it. It just didn’t look like I remembered it. In fact, in many ways, it looks much better. For my friends? Well, their new normal comes in the form of explosive poo. I’m pretty sure that’s not what their normal used to look like, but these days, it seems to suit them just fine.

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The Philosopher Queen

– Contributed by Wee C

The philosopher has come out in me lately. More Dr. Phil than Plato and his shadows on the cave wall, but I’m a philosopher queen nonetheless. Shockingly, I’ve been thinking about love, loss and the stuff that happens in between. You know, like life. I’ve been thinking about how so many of us progress from lust to love, love to life, and somehow, life to loss. I’ve been thinking about how we keep the lust as part of the love and how we prevent life from suffocating all of it. Ah, yes, Socrates would be proud. What’s that wisdom he used to pass along…know thyself?

When I look back on my 11 year relationship (and, yes, I arrogantly believe this makes me a enough of an authority on love to write about it), there are plenty of things that worked and didn’t work. That’s reasonably inconsequential at this point. What I have realized, though, is that most couples spend way too much time arguing talking about the kind of toilet paper to buy, who spends more time working than the other, how the other never buys them flowers any more, and not nearly enough supporting one another in their individual journeys. And if Maslow is right, and self-actualization is the ultimate destination, a relationship with someone else has to be about supporting them on their path; not cluttering it, not obstructing it, not hijacking it. And certainly, it can’t only be about the colour of the drapes.

What I’ve come to realize in the past couple of weeks is that building a life with another human being is a privilege. During that process, you learn, you teach, you share, and most importantly, you grow as an individual. Building, however, insinuates support, collaboration, progression. Building is what helps us get to self-actualization. It’s sustaining a life that’s problematic. Sustaining is stagnant, it’s suffocating and it’s emotionally suicidal.

Do I think that we all need to sit around and discuss the meaning of life all the time? Absolutely not. Do I think that we need to feverishly run down the path of life in a relentless pursuit of higher mindedness? Not a chance. But have I come to believe that reducing life to nothing but mortgages, babies, RRSPs, and “where the hell is my ring” will kill even the best relationships and suffocate even the most inspired of individuals. Yes, I most certainly have.

Through all of this, the most important realization I’ve had is that life really is a journey of finding meaning. Individual and collective meaning. We need to honour that by supporting the one we’re with and allowing them to find their own meaning in their own ways, even if those ways look different than our own. We need to honour that by protecting our own journey and not allowing someone else to stifle it, even if that means walking away from them. And we need to honour that by not allowing the dirty diapers, the errands that need to be run and the crappy way they fold the laundry to overtake our relationships. Because, really, there’s no lust, love or life in any of that.