The Night Before Normal

Here I am, the night before my husband gets home after six weeks away.

Six weeks, you think. That's not so long.

Or, if you have kids, like I do (ages 4 and 1), you might think, DAMN that's long.

Both are true.

It's kind of amazing what can become your new normal. Anything, really, if you get used to it. After 9/11 we were all talking about what it meant, getting back to normal. That there would now be a new normal. And sure enough, phrases like Ground Zero just became part of our vocabulary, and the skyline changed, and now it's just--the way it is.

Now, I'm not comparing my husband being gone for six weeks to anything like that. He's been gone before, and he'll be gone again, especially this first year in his new job.

I'm just surprised at how quickly I adapted. His absence was both welcomed ( more space around the house-yay! Less TV, and when it's on, more romantic comedies--yay!) and resented fiercely ("two little kids/single mom" pretty much sums that up). On one hand, getting up at 5:30 every day to shlep kids to school and daycare was easier than I thought. On the other hand, the passing of time only served to make life around the house often more challenging, not less.
(I was just interrupted by my 4-year old, who came in crying, "I bonked my head on the door, and now I can't hear". Bedtime has already been going on for two hours).

And yet, one thing I can say is that this way of living has become normal. Tomorrow, when Daddy returns (for a month, until he leaves again for a shorter time), we will have to redefine normal again.

There are upsides to being a single mom. All your friends feel sorry for you and buy you lunches and coffees, for one thing. The house can be blissfully quiet late at night.

(the one-year old is up now, crying.)

Also, I've grown really close to the girls. I listen to Mirabelle sing "Tomorrow" every night before bed (sometimes at the top of her lungs). Together we tap dance to "Singing in the Rain" while twirling her umbrella as we walk through the NEVER-ENDING WINTER WHEN WILL IT ENDDDDD WITH THE RAINING AND THE SNOWING!! (sorry. Snowing, AGAIN, now). At night we tell "secrets"; "What was the best part of your day, Mommy? The hardest part?"

I caught Clover's first steps on video at the playground. One day she was crawling and the next, walking, and she hasn't looked back. It's a great lesson. I wear her in the carrier and she puts her hand on my face, smiling, and I think, this phase will end soon.

Here's what else happened while I was Single Mom:

I learned to ask for help. I took on a new Composer-in-Residence job. I met my Biddy bandmate's brand new baby when it was just hours old. I started a new songwriting partnership. I co-led a concert of original songs written by developmentally disabled adults. I taught piano. I worked a lot.

I survived: a major blizzard, alternate-side parking (not really a NYC driver), both kids being sick, school vacation, a lost beloved teddy bear, my 4-year old's birthday party, weaning, a very sick kitty episode (ongoing), financial and health concerns.

I juggled work and life and kids and all of it, just like moms everywhere do, every day, single or not, because that's what is required of moms. There really isn't another choice.

(one of the cats is climbing into a paper bag in the kitchen VERY loudly. It had better not delay bedtime further or this cat will have hell to pay!!)

I definitely had some major meltdowns. I remember sobbing on the streets of Park Slope at one point, seeing all of the Happy Happy Families around me and feeling just so tired and overwhelmed.

But it passed. It will all pass, I seem to somehow remember in my daze, so through it all I've been trying to breathe, to take in that moment before the end of the day, before the end of the song.."it's only a dayyy a-wayyy"-and know that there is beauty amidst chaos.

The girls are asleep. Tomorrow will come, and with it, the new normal. The days may feel long but life is short and oh, so sweet.