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Searching for Normal

I drive past the overstuffed parking lots, trees tied to car roofs, and christmas lights blinking in the store windows.

Already? I ask myself, gripping the wheel tighter.

Is it time to shift the house into Christmas decorations? I’m still looking for a normal, kind-of-tidy house.

Is it time to pick an Advent devotional for the evenings? I’m still looking for normal, unhurried evenings.

Is it time to set aside some of our regular homeschool studies and pencil in special “Christmas time” unit studies and read-alouds? I’m still looking for normal school, when the basics all fit comfortably into our day.

Is it really time to make Christmas cookies every week? I’m still trying to get a routine of meals, and a break from extra sweets.

Is it really time to think about presents, service projects, and teacher gifts? I’m still looking a few free moments when I don’t feel tired.

I’m still searching for normal, I think to myself.

But what is normal? Have I ever had it? Does it mean balanced? No, I figured out many years ago that a life of momma-hood and homeschooling doesn’t equal balanced anything.

But I do remember a certain rhythm.

Rhythm, that’s what I’m looking for. A rhythm to our days.

Just as this lifestyle doesn’t invite balance, I know the rhythm of a season is temporary as well.  Children move to new grades, birthdays bring new parenting challenges, new babies call for a break in rhythm and some improvisation.

But we usually find a comfortable rhythm for a period of months, and we haven’t found that for a long time now.  Summer always throws me with its lack of routine, then our new homeschool year arrived with friction, and our first solid week of homeschool (that finished with hope) ended a few days before my Dad died.  Weeks of grieving and planning a memorial, a few choppy weeks of school, and now it’s Christmas? Did we even have Fall?

Usually Christmas arrives as a change of rhythm from our normal routine.

I don’t have a normal to set aside to make room for all that arrives with the month of December.

The seven years of taking care of my Dad certainly felt like a constant break in anything routine, new challenges always presenting themselves.  But looking back, I can see that visiting Dad every week, and meeting with nurses had it’s own rhythm of staccato beats. Maybe some rhythms can’t be recognized in the present moment, but only when the beat is lost.

Should I keep looking for our rhythm, and keep my hope tied to it?

Or is my hope better tied to something that doesn’t ever change?  Something I might remember if I can make the shift to Christmas?

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