Reentry Tales – What Is Normal Anyway?

There’s no normal life. There’s just life. A little wisdom from Doc Holiday in Tombstone – and totally applicable to where we now find ourselves in the newness of designing a post-pandemic life. Reentry is tricky business and there’s nothing normal about it.

The day to day minutia in a year of pandemic living was in many ways ordered around public health orders, my core belief in the importance of the common good, and my deep desire to keep my family healthy. I may not have enjoyed (ok – definitely did not) the physical and social restrictions of pandemic life and there were days when I strongly questioned whether or not the long term benefit was worth the wear and tear of a restricted life. But overall I do still believe it was necessary to hit the pause button on “normal” life and hunker down.

As public health orders become less restrictive, vaccines become more available (my husband and I are both now fully vaccinated), and the world emerges from this bizarre hibernation, my family is beginning to ease back into many of the things that have been paused. The kids are back on campus for 2 days per week of school. My husband and I are both spending more time working at our offices than we are working from home. We’ve begun to spend time with friends at restaurants. I hugged a human being who is not a member of my immediate family for the first time in well over a year last week. The school district announced that there will be in person promotion and graduation ceremonies so our youngest child will get some of the end-of-middle school celebration that our eldest child missed out on last year. Summer options are opening up for the kids and travel out of state (although still in the country) seems probable. This is all hopeful momentum, and yet….I can’t see where normal life as we knew it pre-COVID fits who we are in the here and now.

One day last week I decided to count the number of times I heard or read a reference to “returning to normal.” The result was 8 times in a 12 hour period. In 8 separate conversations, social media posts, and articles somebody was advocating for or longing for a return to normal. My silent response each time – no thank you. Normal as we knew it – both as a family and as a society – was far from ideal in the pre-COVID days and not worth settling for as we move forward. I don’t want to return to the old normal. I don’t even want to settle for the “new normal” being talked about seemingly everywhere. Societal normal seems to be once again leaning in the direction of busy, and much, and quick, I don’t want normal. I just want life – a slower paced life with emphasis placed on the people and things I love and the grace to recalibrate based on my family’s needs. Thanks to vaccines we get to live life again, and we have a rare opportunity to choose what our normal will be. I choose a life lived at the pace of us instead of life lived at the pace of have to/ought to/really should.

There’s no normal life. There’s just life. Be well my friends.

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