Normal is the New Normal

“I’m going to beat the everloving pants off this whole reentry thing,” I determined last night, laying myself down to sleep at the ridiculously responsible hour of 10:30.

We had been home only a few hours. Seven weeks’ worth of suitcases lay where they had been dropped on our dusty floors. All of my grand plans to keep up with writing throughout our trip were wadded up in one of them, no doubt, wedged somewhere between the dirty hiking pants and the souvenir chocolate. (Because: Switzerland.) I couldn’t see even the faintest, horizon-bleared end of the to-do list in my mind, but it didn’t matter. For once, I was going to prioritize my own post-trip sanity. No more spiraling into the scheduleless void. I would settle back into the cushion of my own blessed mattress, get the best night of sleep I’d had all summer, and wake up early enough to write my way back to normalcy by breakfast.

Cue mischief-portending Danny Elfman track.

At first, I couldn’t sleep. The bed felt strange. I had too many elbows. The sheet was too warm; taking it off was too cold. I dozed off a few times only to wake up in a disoriented panic wondering whose furniture was looming around me in the dark. And where had the door disappeared to? My brain rocked around wildly for a while and then began to settle down for the night. In fact, I was finally making some real headway into sleep when someone began knocking on the bedroom door. A certain six-year-old someone whose brain was cooperating even less than mine.

“I can’t manage to sleep!” wailed Sophie. “What if I never fall asleep? What if I’m awake all night?”

“No, no,” I soothed. “Let’s just get you back to bed. I’m sure you’ll be asleep before you know it.”

Five minutes later… “Go back to bed, honey. You’re not going to fall asleep any more easily by getting up like this.”

Ten minutes after that…“Have you tried counting sheep yet?”

And an hour after that…“Here, just get into bed with me.”

And an hour after that… “Maybe you should try your own bed again.”

The kid didn’t fall asleep until five in the mother flippin’ morning. It was the worst insomnia of my life, and it wasn’t even mine. By the end, I was lurching into her room like a blindfolded zombie to offer grunts that I hoped were conveying equal parts compassion and “Go the F**k to Sleep.”

It goes without saying—though I will anyway—that my pastel-tinted Morning of Rejuvenation did not happen. Dan pried me out of bed with a stiff coffee a little before 10, and I had to remind myself that everything I accomplished from that point on counted as a victory. Toothpaste located and used? Score! Self showered by lunch? Bonus! Vacation laundry sorted and pushed in general direction of washing machine? Fifty points for me!

It hasn’t been the day I’d hoped or planned, but I’m sure there’s a life lesson somewhere in there. Expectations make great target practice, for example, or Children can smell productivity. The truth is that I don’t mind how things turned out in the end. I had to take an adjustment in perspective and an extra coffee or two, but it hasn’t been a bad day. The bags got [mostly] unpacked. The four of us [mostly] enjoyed each other’s company. I’m getting a chance to string some [mostly] coherent sentences together and feeling [mostly] sane to boot. If you consider that the goal for my day was a return to normalcy, then perhaps the unpredictability of normal life, with its dust and insomnia and total lack of regard for best-laid plans, is just what I needed.

Well, that and about sixteen hours of make-up sleep tonight. I mean, really.

Insomnia e-card

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  1. Yes yes and yes. After a long night awake with baby and an insomniac 6 year old of my own (is it the age??), followed by a day of crossing only one thing off my long to do list . . . I give this post two hearty thumbs up. “Total lack of regard for best-laid plains” – I’ll be thinking more on this I’m sure. I’ll also be dreaming of those hours of makeup sleep that don’t seem to be anywhere in my near future. sigh.

    • Oh my, hun… an insomniac 6-year-old when you also have a newborn in the house is just all kinds of unfair. I don’t even know how often I’ve wished I could send someone SLEEP via airmail. Whenever someone gets around to inventing that, I’ll ship you an extra-large dose. XO

  2. The hardest part of traveling is the dang sleep stuff. Sorry that both of you were messed up and hoping she’ll sleep well tonight so you will, too!

    • Your good sleep vibes worked, Diana! The kids have been sleeping like a charm. Now to convince my own dang self to go to bed at a reasonable hour… 😀

  3. Oh, these posts…all of them have been wonderful! The one on your eleventh anniversary (happy anniversary!) especially hit home to me. I, too have stood on that hallowed ground with you…straddling the fence of marriage choices. I am so very happy for you that you and Dan worked (WORKED!) together to fight back against the trolls to find that place where you like each other–really like each other–again. Marriage IS SO HARD. Peaks and valleys, just like the Italian Alps.

    Your vacation looks breath-taking. So happy to be back reading your words! xoxoxo

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