Tuesday, 2 January 2018

David Bowie didn't worry about being 'normal'

For the first blog post of 2018 I had intended to do one of those looking back on the year just gone and reflecting posts. You know where I would figuratively tip my head to one side and go misty eyed while remembering how Blue Bear started at 'big school' and Brown Bear was chosen for the swim squad. My decision to step down from some community commitments to give myself some more time in my life. Then my return to radio which has been good for my soul and my mental health. How I got back into running and trashed two pairs of trainers in 6 months through hardcore training (well, not quite). The triumph of my completing the full moonwalk almost 8 years since I last did it. Achieving a long held ambition to go skiing at Christmas and finding out that Brown Bear is a natural and I haven't forgotten nearly as much as I had expected.

Then the inevitable forward planning for this year. How I'm going to make a triumphant return to the workplace now my boys are settled and happy at school. My continuing pursuit of fitness and health through running, swimming and making better food choices. The aim to be a calmer and kinder parent than I have been. Some other stuff about world peace, yada, yada, yada.

That was what I had intended to write. Then this evening it was all subsumed by a comment by my father-in-law that got under my skin so much that I did something I haven't done in years. I've developed that capacity to smile and tolerate most of his idiocyncracies. I have even been known to laugh or tease him about his assertions that illegal immigrants swim across to Lymington in their droves. So what did he say this time that led me to bite and then to walk away in silence ? 

It was the word 'normal.' I use it myself. I will plead with my sons to 'act normal' when I've had enough of their constant bickering or demands from me. It's shorthand for 'be nicer' as if that is what is normal for everyone. He wasn't using it in that context though. He was saying that my boys have something wrong with them and by association that I am incapable as a mother. He pointed out that how they behave is 'not normal.' Well I don't really know what that means. I think children aged 7 and 4 can be pretty boisterous and having seen lots of other children on holiday I know mine are full of energy, but they are far from unusual. I know my kids are tiring. Of course I do. I know that better than anyone else, because I'm the one who spends most time with them. I also know that when they are tired or hungry they are unreasonable and demanding and if I'm tired too that's not the best combination. 

My mum looked after the boys overnight a while back. She's had Brown Bear overnight a lot, but never both of them. The next day when I sent a message asking how they were my sister replied, "they're not listening." I looked at Hubbie and sighed. Well, what did we expect ? A miracle ? Since that overnight visit I have had inspirational messages from my mother and whenever I visit she makes me food and tea and insists I rest. I think she has some handle on how hard it is with these boys. Mother in law has two sons, so she has more of an understanding about it. Her husband, however, does not. When he insisted that his children weren't like that I snapped. "How would you know, you weren't around." He carried on telling me how he knew they weren't like that so I ended with, "Well they are children, and they're not the same and you never had an adopted son." I walked out of the kitchen and went upstairs where I'm typing this now. 

I don't like to use adoption as a punctuation mark. I really don't want to draw attention to it as a 'special circumstance,' but our boys are not like his boys in any way. I've seen how far we've come and how much they love each other. The bickering and play fighting (which often ends up not so playful) is testament to how much they have grown together. On holiday when we went to check on them one night Hubbie pointed out that they were holding hands across the twin beds. It was precious. 

It's ok if we're not normal. We don't have to be like anyone else. It's not about how we compare with anyone. I'm not always proud of myself. I shout too loud and I tell them off too much. I give in to them and spoil them. I laugh and play with them. I am blown away by how much they have grown up and how funny they are. When they laugh and smile my heart feels like it is going to burst. They are my gorgeous, loving, hilarious, energetic, unpredictable, infuriating, exhausting, challenging, brilliant boys. 

This is our 'normal.'


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