Monday, September 6, 2010

Can I Get A Heaping Helping of Normal, Please?

Normalcy? What's that?

Well, it's what all the parenting books and magazines and experts tell you to try to maintain when your family is going through the divorce transition. I'm wondering what exactly a parent is supposed to do when your family was never normal to begin with? And as far as going through the transition? Well, that's never really over, is it?

Now that we are a few years out, my educated guess that "maintaining normalcy" means to forge ahead like nothing is different. I remember a moment when we were just a few months post divorce and Frank developed this habit of asking the same question every single night.  "Hey, Mom, what's for dinner?"  On one particularly trying day, Frank came into the kitchen and asked this very normal question again. I took a deep breath, counted as close to ten as I could get and explained to him in my serious voice (which is quite an abnormal voice for me) that I truly, truly hated that question.

I don't know if that question bothers other moms, but it drives me nuts! WHY do they want to know what's for dinner? Is it so they can decide if they want to do the Secret Pizza Hut dial on the cell phone? Is it a gentle reminder that the rumbling noise echoing through the house for the last 30 minutes means everyone is starving? Could they be taking some kind of scientific poll to see how many times a week Mac-n-Cheese can pass for dinner? Why do they need to know?

Poor Frank. After enduring one of my well-worded, perfectly punctuated lectures, he smiles, hugs me, and cautiously whispers. "OK, but I still kinda want to know what's for dinner."

Years later, he's still asking almost every night, "What's for dinner?" I'm not sure why this habit started. Maybe, at first, it was his way of focusing on the "normal" stuff of families. He might have two homes now, and divide his holidays between parents, but there is always dinner. Or maybe (as is quite normal for me) I'm reading too much into it and he truly just wants to know what's for dinner. And sometimes, I'm quite sure, he asks just for the thrill-seeking pleasure of it. Nothing says you're living on the edge like sneaking up behind a knife-wielding, chicken-carving Roaring Mom at the end of hectic day and asking, "What's for dinner?"

I honestly don't know how well we maintained "normalcy" through the transition. In fact, we're still trying to figure out a whole lot of stuff.

A little over a week ago my oldest daughter left for college. She left behind a mess of clothes the sisters aren't sure if they are allowed to wear or not, an empty bedroom the siblings are wondering if they still have to stay out of, a cat she rescued a couple months ago that I'm not sure I'm obligated to keep, and a few decibels of noise level we're doing our best to fill up. In other words, we're once again striving to maintain "normalcy".

Tonight, after I finished the Roaring Mom Round-up (otherwise known as the extra-curricular taxi time), Frank followed me into the kitchen and asked, "What's for dinner?" This time I hugged him. It's good to know that, at least for now, some things remain.

1 comment:

  1. I've never been through a divorce so I can only imagine how hard it is to keep the peace--especially for a people pleaser like me.

    For the record, each of my kids asked me what was for dinner every night of their lives. Your girls don't? Take it as a compliment that they love your cooking so much they are excited to see what's next on the menu. xoxo