I keep waiting for things to go back to normal.
Not because I want that old, childless normal — I adore every aspect of having Elliott in our lives — but, it is more a reflection of the nature of most things in life: sooner or later, things feel “normal” again.
I crave that.
Years ago, I ended my first marriage. I remember climbing into my mom’s car as we pulled out of the drive, feeling a wistful combination of new chapter-like excitement and exhaustion at the idea of rebuilding my life around the hole my ex-husband would leave.
Now, Ryan and I are rebuilding the new normal: a family of three. It is absolutely glorious and utterly overwhelming.
That feeling of overwhelm comes mostly in quick flashes. I’ll be elbow deep in a sink full of breast pump parts, when all of a sudden I feel nearly suffocated by the responsibility that comes with taking charge of a helpless human being.
I knew that I would love my child. But, I was entirely unprepared for what this kind of love would actually mean for my life. I didn’t know how profoundly it would change me or how quickly.
Loving Elliott makes me brave and strong, terrified and fiercely protective. At the doctor’s office today, a woman asked if she could see him. Ryan pulled back the blanket from our child’s face, and I felt my body nearly vibrating with panic at the idea that she might reach her hand in to touch his soft, little cheek.
I’m not sure what I would have done if she tried, but I am fairly certain my reaction would have been embarrassing.
I have no idea how to work a love like that into the fabric of the old normal we spent so many years weaving together.
Clearly, we will. People do it all the time.
It’s part of this learning curve, I’m sure. Just as Ryan and I have spent panicked moments wondering about this little grunt or that snort or that sound —wait, was that a wheeze?— and trying to decipher one cry from another (pain? hunger? diaper? what kid, what?), we will figure this out, too.
Someday, some other change will come along, and probably only then will I realize that this earth shattering little human has become a joyous, exhausting, normal part of our everyday.