Monday, September 07, 2009

Normally Not

The New Normal actually isn't new, and it isn't normal.

Many of us have had to live for a time separated from a loved one. Having to say goodbye to Ty again, even though it's such a good thing that he's going to school, has brought back some conflicting memories. I confess I could be handling it better.

As a child, I was forever saying hello and goodbye to my dad. It was so strange to go to his home for a visit - so much had happened in my absence and I wasn't a part of it. Sometimes there'd be a new furniture arrangement, sometimes my dad would have built something or finished a project. It was so strange to see photographs of their daily lives or special events and know nothing about them.

I would return home to discover the same phenomenon had occurred there as well. Once, my mom and my grandpa painted my room in my absence (loved it!). Another time, my bedroom was completely moved into another room. Often, mom would clean my messy room as a surprise or have a treat waiting for me on my bed.

Always, there was a period of adjustment upon reentry. No matter which place I came "home" to, it took a few days to stop feeling like a visitor or a stranger. There were stories and events to catch up on; there were questions about whether I was in attendance during certain events or not ("Were you here when we did this?"), and there were routines and tasks to relearn since both homes were different.

Strangely, I never felt like a visitor when I went to see my family in New Mexico. Perhaps it is that the furniture was never rearranged or replaced. Perhaps it is that the state itself stays largely unchanged.

After high school graduation, Himself moved to the desert and started a year and a half, long-distance relationship with me that ended on our wedding day. No easy task, it was made more difficult by our own selfishness. His weekend visits could have gone better if we had made our expectations clearer and each worked to serve the other. What a mess that was!

Our first years of marriage were spent traveling and visiting various relatives. Since my parents were divorced and his parents were divorced (and none of them lived in the same town but 2 hours apart), we had to learn to budget our visits between friends and family members. We scheduled our holidays, trying to spread ourselves evenly among our parents and loved ones.

It was exhausting.

Again, the only visits that weren't exhausting were the ones we made to New Mexico. Maybe this is why, though I have never physically lived there, New Mexico has always felt like home to me? I know I long for it even more than I long for California!

Except for the Snow White blanket on his bed (it's the only one I could find!), I hope things were pretty much the same for Ty as they were before he left. We're certainly still dealing with the antics of the dogs, issues of the house, and busyness of life! I hope he won't be spread too thin on his visits home. This first time, I was busy with a wedding, church, and after-church activities. We tried going out to lunch (but didn't get to sit all together) and when I made dinner, one family member had already gone off to another activity.

I don't want to make too much of a demand on his time. I guess I'm trying to figure out what my expectations were and what reality will be and hope they're somewhat even.

Well, they weren't this time. Next time, I'll be more prepared. The one advantage we have is an easier ability to communicate, so the only thing he'll miss out on is physically being here. I certainly don't want him to feel like a stranger or visitor when he comes home!

You see, Ty? That's why I left the mess on the coffee table. I'm just trying to do my part for you, Son.


agable said...

You are such a great mother. I love how much you love your kids. Thank you so much for sharing your sweet son with us for a little while! Jessie and I watched as Ben and Tyler conversed about whatever it is they converse about (fishing?) and they both had huge grins on their faces. :) I dare say they've missed each other.

mitchellfam said...

Just so you know, when I asked Tyler how it felt to be home, he said it was like he had never left. He seemed so happy to be home!

Believe me, I can so relate to your feelings having had two leave the nest already and only one to go! Praying for you!

BA said...

Oh JoAnna, never fear. Your home will always be most welcoming to the kids because BOTH you and John are there. That is the greatest gift you can ever give them. After reading about your "back and forth" as a kid, I was once again so thankful for my parents' long and loving marriage. Even though they moved a lot after I had left home, it always felt like "home" because they were there, together.


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