Friday, February 19, 2010

Beyond Our New Normal

Six months.  It's been just over six months since my phone went off in the middle of my dentist appointment and when I answered, thinking it was my son's school, instead learned that my husband had been grievously wounded in Afghanistan.  This certainly did not improve my generally bleak outlook when it comes to dentist appointments, even though the dentist did say that I have beautiful incisors in an attempt to cheer me up.  He meant well.

I wrote last August about how I believed we'd "find our new normal" and about how in a few months all the things that seemed so scary would probably be routine.  Since then everything and nothing has changed.  All of the small details (what vehicle we drive, the number of appointments we go to, how much time we spend together, the arrangement of our furniture, even in the near future where we live) are completely different.  There were horribly frustrating moments as we were forced to make adjustments to almost every aspect of our lives.  But the important stuff-- our outlook on life, our parenting philosophy, and our love for one another-- haven't changed in the slightest.  We're still the same people we were before Jer, as he puts it, "lost at minesweeper."  I'm pretty glad about that.

And we've found our new normal; we've really got nothing to complain about. Not only that, but we've also learned some pretty neat things about ourselves along the way.  For example: I now know that it is indeed possible for me to handle carting two members of this family to two sets of doctor and therapy appointments at different offices on the opposite sides of the city from each other (normally 6-9 trips now, but fourteen appointments and one trip to the ER during one particularly memorable week).  In fact, I've gotten so used to our crazy routine now that when Jeremy is able to drive again sometime in the near future I'm not sure what I'll do with all my free time. 

So now that we've figured out our new routine, we're going to shake everything up.  Apparently we like things exciting over here.  Once we're settled in our new gorgeous fully wheelchair accessible home (thanks to some pretty amazing people) we're going to be starting the adoption process.  And while we don't have a particular kid or set of disabilities in mind, we absolutely know that we'll be adopting another child with special needs.

Jeremy is home for a good long stretch while he heals right now, and by the time we get through all of the paperwork he should be fully independent again and I won't be stretched too thin.  We know we can handle having another child financially.  Our home will be completely set up for a variety of disabilities, and we already have experience navigating the sometimes-befuddling world that is parenting a child with special needs.  And we're ready-- more than ready-- for more children.

Yeah, the general consensus will probably be that we're completely nuts to want to do this.  We're just getting to the point where our lives might be slowing down a bit; why in the world would we want to go and do something like add another kid-- especially another kid with special needs-- to the mix?  And yeah, maybe we're crazy.  But we're of the opinion around here-- even more so after the events of last August-- that putting things off because there will be some magical "perfect time" to do them later isn't the best of ideas.  Who knows what later is going to look like?  Who knows if there will even be a later?

  As far as the special needs part goes: well, currently the non-disabled members of our family (that would be me) are outnumbered, and we go by majority rules around here.  Give me another forty years and given my family history I'll probably have horrible arthritis and major hearing loss, so it's only a matter of time before I fit right in.  We're not really worried about outside opinion as we're already a parade in grocery stores, so it would be very hard to attract more attention than we already do. 

So we've crunched the numbers, we know we can afford another family member, and even though I'm sure we could come up with a whole lot of excuses why we shouldn't do this, what it boils down to is that it feels like the right thing for us, and that's really all the justification we need.

So, goodbye to our current normal.  Bring on the next adventure!



You can find Jess daily at


  1. Jess,
    I am a regular reader of Connor's Song, and followed today's blog link to this essay. You are my hero! An extraordinary person and an extraordinary writer. Wishing you all of the best forever.

  2. Congratulations on reaching the new normal! I understand why it's time to reach out. Best wishes and God bless.

  3. Sending best wishes to your family, and sharing your joy at your good news. It's YOUR life, YOUR family, and only you know what is right for you. I'm simply grateful that you have such happiness together.

  4. Jess, I say "Hats off to you!" You are so right that there is no "perfect time" and you know first-hand that life can change on a dime. There's some lucky little person out there just waiting for a new family. Mazel tov.

  5. Others may think it's not the right time, but I'll bet the child that ends up in your home will think your timing is perfect.

  6. I join with other commenters in extolling the spirit you express here and on your blog, and in wishing you much happiness in the next phase of your brave and generous journey.

  7. Thank you for sharing your "new normal" with us, reminding us of what's important and for following your beliefs. You are a wonderful family.

  8. I can't imagine anyone being critical of your choice to add another family member. Clearly you are a responsible, energetic, supportive and loving parent and wife and totally experienced in the realm of special needs. How many people can provide all that? When I read this post I just felt so much love in general. Brought tears to my eyes. Best wishes to you and your family.