I have been thinking about this word “normal” a lot lately. It started when I read a viral post on Scary Mommy called something like “This is What Normal Is.” The post was all about how it’s “normal” to have a messy house when you stay at home or work from home and have small children.
The problem is, that alienated a lot of people. By defining that it is normal to have a messy house, it insinuated (strongly) that anything else is not normal. And a lot of mothers took issue with that. Because not everyone with small children lives in a messy house. And not everyone with small children live in a cluttered house. And not everyone lives in a house that could be a spread in Southern Living. Because my normal is not your normal.
I would have had far less of a problem with the essay if it had been from the perspective of “this is my normal, and I’d like to explain why.” Not a piece that felt to me more like the writer had the urge to justify to the world why her house was such a mess all the time and demonize any mother who wants to keep a clean house.
Neither one of them is right or wrong. Because they establish their own rules for “normal.”
I don’t know why have this need to tell others how they should be doing things or why there way is wrong. I also don’t understand why we feel the need to shame people for not having the same priorities or for doing things differently. Your normal is probably not my normal. And I don’t really appreciate being told what “normal” is.
I have been criticized about the state of my house. My house is often chaotic (especially over the summer when the 3 kids and often their friends are in the house making a mess all day). It’s usually not picked up because I prioritize my time on other things. Sometimes I am trying to get work done, sometimes I’d rather be doing things and going places with the kids, sometimes I’m just really too freaking tired. There again, how I prioritize my time, unless I am endangering my children, really isn’t anyone else’s concern.
And SOME days, all I want is to pick up, declutter, and clean like a fool. Usually this does happen after I’ve been to a friend’s house who keeps a really neat, tidy, organized home. And I appreciate that. It motivates me because I know that is is possible to have small children and a really clean home. It also reminds me how nice it feels to be in a clean, tidy environment. I don’t feel badly about myself because my friend has such a tidy home. I actually feel inspired by them. So, I’ll go home and clean and organziae, and for a few days, that will be my normal.
Like all of us, my “normal” in my house and in my life depends on a whole lot of different circumstances. “Normal” depends completely on the people who live in that home. How they were raised, what their priorities are, how busy their lives are, and so on and so forth. What is not normal is for people to look into your lives and try to prescribe what your life should look like.
There was a time when “normal” for me was being satisfied if the kids had on clean underwear and food when they needed it. And that was about all I could make happen in a day. Thankfully, I’m no longer in that place, but I sure do feel for the people who are.
There are occasions that we MIGHT all agree on normal vs. not normal.
- It’s not normal for a parent to molest a child.
- It’s not normal for children to be exposed to drugs in a home.
- It’s not normal for very young children to be left on their own for hours at a time.
- It’s not normal for children to have to watch their father beat the daylight out of their mother.
- It IS normal for a mother to be exhausted after a long day with children and to choose vegging out or sleep over cleaning up her home.
- It IS normal for a mother who really prides herself on her home to take the time to tidy up even when she is exhausted after a long day.
- It IS normal for a mother to overlook piles and piles of laundry because the laundry NEVER ENDS.
- It IS normal for a mother to spend hours folding laundry because she doesn’t want her house covered in laundry.
I guess where I draw the line between normal and not normal is a matter of safety and well being for the not normal and personal preference for normal.
You are the only one who can determine what is normal for you, your children, your partner.
I get to decide whether it’s okay for y house to look like a tornado came through or whether it looks like I’m preparing for a visit from the Queen.
(cue the music) That’s MY prerogative!
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