I wasn’t feeling too introspective about the new year yesterday, probably because life is so different than in years past and thinking about stuff like losing weight, getting organized, blah, blah, blah has taken a back burner to doing what I need to physically survive.*
But after reading lots of Facebook posts filled with my friends’ highlights and lowlights, it got me thinking and I realized that my life this past year has been and will be in the new year all about accepting a “new normal. ”
At this time last year, I was in the midst of a high-risk pregnancy with a surprise baby (the cutest, most adorable, and most awesome surprise ever) and longing for the days when I’d no longer be pregnant and could “get back to normal.” Normal being going to yoga, jogging, hiking, and just having my body to myself. Heck, just not having to go to pee every 10 minutes.
The baby, a beautiful girl, came Jan. 23 and was a snuggly low-maintenance infant. Perfect. I estimated I’d be back to normal in a couple months, ready to take on the world.
A couple of weeks later we went to Children’s Hospital for a scheduled neuropsychological evaluation for my 4.5-year-old son. Three weeks later we returned and learned he has a diagnosis– high-functioning autism. We had suspected for awhile that he had some form of autism, but nothing can prepare you for the news that you will never have a “normal” child and the resulting sadness and fear–fear that he’ll be bullied, fear that he won’t be able to live independently, fear that he won’t be as happy as we want him to be–is quite devastating. The diagnosis also meant that life would never be normal since my son will need extra support in all areas of his life for the foreseeable future.
Since then, we have been doing everything possible to get him the support he needs. We’ve accepted that he’ll never be “normal” and that’s okay. It’s okay because our son wouldn’t be the perfect little boy he is without his autism. When I say “perfect,” I don’t mean it in the annoying braggy parent sense, but in the sense that he is so perfectly lovable and wonderful with all his strengths and talents and quirks and challenges.
And then to top off the year, I learned I have breast cancer which ensures that normalcy is, like, so long gone it’s not even funny.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff people wiser than I have said. In a recent yoga class with Jacqui Bonwell, she kept talking about how we get bogged down in the grief of what we think our lives should be instead of accepting our lives as they are. When she applied the word “grief” to something I always thought of as daydreaming or fantasizing, I realized the power of discontentment.
And a couple of years ago around New Year’s, I read a book called The 100 Things Challenge that introduced me to the idea of minimalism and how we can find contentment by curbing the materialism that’s instilled in us pretty much at birth. One phrase from the book that still resonates in my head almost every day is,”Bloom where you are planted.” Forget where you think you should be or could be. Stop wishing and wanting. Take what you have and do your the best with it because that’s what will make meaning for you and those who you love and cherish.
I pretty much feel like I took off in a rocket ship away from anything normal and my life this past year has been learning to accept the things I never expected and to try and thrive no matter what is happening.
The subject matter for 2013 is a bit heavier and way harder than anything I’ve ever faced. But my hope and goal is that I’ll experience plenty of joy even if it is in moments and circumstances I never would have imagined.
*Disclaimer: If I woke up tomorrow and was skinnier and my house was organized, I would be ecstatic.