The New Normal: 2013 365 Challenge #294

Bottle top faces

Bottle top faces

This evening marks the eve of the new normal for our family. After a year of unemployment, self employment, projects, lucky breaks, disasters, starting school, publishing books, and finally seeing my sister and her family for the first time in nearly three years, we’re about to embrace a new start: hopefully one with a semblance of routine and normality.

I said goodbye to my sister tonight, and the cousins – who only really met for the first time twelve days ago – had to have the last screaming game of chase and the last negotiation of cuddles for at least another year.

We all cried. When we got home, despite it being bedtime and hubbie retreating poorly to bed, I made pancakes and the children and I settled down to do craft. Normality creeps in through the chaos.

Tomorrow morning hubbie starts his new job. The children will be at school and preschool. My sister and her family will board a plane back to Boston. I’ll write my next Claire installment and iron some clothes. Walk the dog; do the weekly food shop.

Super cool dude

Super cool dude

Miss my sister. Enjoy the silence.

The normality will only last a week, before it’s half term and I have to figure out how to write seven daily blog posts with no childcare and no hubbie at home to help. Fun times ahead!

I’m looking forward to our new normal though. Much as I love having hubbie at home and able to spend time with the kids, I do like routine. Even getting into a rhythm of ironing shirts and uniform, making packed lunches and finding book-bags on a Sunday night fills me with a quiet sense of achievement. I’m not an organised person, but when it falls into place it feels nice.

And, of course let’s be honest, I’m rather looking forward to having a bit of time by myself. Even with the extra duties that come with hubbie being out the house all day, I do rather like shutting the front door and knowing it’s just me and the dog for a few hours. When you know there’s only you to do the work, it doesn’t seem so much of a chore somehow. Here’s to the new normal. Let’s hope this endless rain isn’t part of it!

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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Claire meandered down the high street and watched the busy shoppers scurrying from store to store, their hands clutching bags of all sizes and colours.

As she looked about her at the town centre, with the endless row of cream buildings towering over her, Claire felt a strange sense of displacement. It was Saturday, and she didn’t know what to do with her day.

Trying to view everything as a tourist, to take in what worked and what didn’t, occupied part of her mind. In the back, however, like chattering children in the cinema, her thoughts kept making disturbing observations.

What did I used to do at the weekend, when I had a normal life? When I wasn’t working, sleeping off a hangover or visiting my parents?

With a pang she realised that, up until last Christmas, weekends had been spent with Michael. Even then, she couldn’t really remember what they did. On a Sunday they read the papers in comfortable silence in one of the many coffee shops. Saturdays usually meant the cinema or going out to dinner or maybe a walk in the park. Mostly they spent too long in bed or talked about work.

What do single people do? Do they just go shopping, and spend all the money they’ve worked so hard to earn during the week? Go to theatres and museums by themselves? Meet with friends? Read a book? Clean the house?

She’d been shocked when Ruth had reminded her it was only four months since she’d left for Berwick-upon-Tweed. Normal life seemed such a long time ago. Still, she guessed that four months of never really knowing what day of the week it was, and there being nothing to mark the difference in days except some things were shut on a Sunday, made it feel much longer.

Claire wondered if that was what had prompted Ruth to start attending church on Sunday, once she had free time without Sky. Was it for a sense of routine? Or to meet people?

As she let her feet direct her into a café for lunch and a latte, Claire became conscious of an overwhelming sense of the futility of things.

We go to work, to earn money, to buy stuff to make ourselves happy because we’ve spent all week at work. What on Earth is that all about?

It was easy to feel there was no point at all without someone to share it with. But looking back on her time with Michael, it hadn’t seemed all that different. Of course she had enjoyed his company, in and out of the bedroom. But what did they ever actually talk about but the latest scandal at work or where to go for dinner. That all seemed pretty meaningless too.

Is that why Michael wanted children? To give life some purpose.

She thought about her time with Sky. It certainly filled the day with things to do, but she couldn’t see how it gave life meaning. Headaches, heartache, insomnia, but not meaning. If not work, or children, or friends or lovers, then what?

Claire wrapped her hands around her mug of coffee, waiting for some low-paid barista staff to bring her an overpriced Panini, and wondered if somehow she’d missed the point.

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3 thoughts on “The New Normal: 2013 365 Challenge #294

    • I’m the opposite – it’s taken five years for us to settle into even a bedtime routine for the kids! With hubbie’s random work schedule it was hard to do the same thing two days in a row. The upside is the kids cope quite well with randomness. In the summer they’re quite often out playing in the garden til gone bedtime. In the UK you have to make the most of the sun! Also hubbie and I are lazy and routines take effort to maintain! 🙂

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