The other month my teenage daughter talked me into shopping with her during the Black Friday sales. Let’s just say we ended up staying in line for a looonnnggg time, although the long line was made bearable by making small talk with the group of customers around us.
Of course the long line wound around all sorts of items marketed to attract the customer’s attention. Which they did. One item caught my daughter’s attention and she picked up a child’s game and said, “Oh my gosh! This is my favorite television show.” I had never heard of the show before and said, “What? Since when do you love that show?”
Loud enough for several people in line to hear she said, “When we were on vacation and I was able to watch cable television. You know? Cable television, like most “normal” people have.” Her tone of voice and facial expressions were quite humorous and tongue-in-cheek, and the people in line around us chuckled.
I found myself suddenly vacillating between the desire to publicly defend our family as “normal” despite not having cable television, and feeling smugly satisfied and confident that we are who we are.
We had a few laughs with the people around us, but I was glad we were to the front of the line before the conversation had to continue. It was late, I was tired, and we’d been standing in line for a long time. I wasn’t in the mood to start explaining how we aren’t exactly the most normal family, but we are normal.
In hindsight though, I wish I could have spent a few minutes discussing what exactly is normal with my fellow department store customers. They will likely never read this post, so I’ll bring it up with you instead.
I’m using the term “normal” quite loosely here, and I’m sure in your own way you can relate.
Each family is unique in their own way, ours being no exception…
Take television for example. Our television is rarely on. My husband and I watch the evening news every night, and my children enjoy a movie or two on the weekend. The only channels offered on our television are the basic channels that are free. But let me explain: I never enjoyed television or movies growing up, and neither did my husband. My husband and I watch maybe 2 movies total in a year. It’s not something we enjoy, and as such, that habit has been passed on to our children. The same can be said for other screen times. Being online, computer games, video games, etc. have never been a daily thing for our children. (I spend plenty of time online.) Recently, my 12-year-old son’s school teacher accused him of lying when he said we owned no “game system” in our home. I’m not at all against them… in fact, I think I could quite enjoy some of the dancing games I hear about for a gaming system, but none of my children have ever asked for one, and we’ve never thought to purchase one, or computer gaming hardware like the best wired gaming mouse I continue finding about. Some things just aren’t an issue in our house. It has nothing to do with prudeness, self-righteousness or piety; it simply isn’t much of an interest of ours. Yet we hear frequently in regards to all this, that it isn’t normal.
We play a fair amount of games, there are always bikes laying on our driveway, there is typically always a pseudo-classroom set up in the spare bedroom, and scissors, paper and craft projects litter our house far more than I’d like. Music spills from our piano and music stands, wood and nails too often litter the garage, and any number of projects can be found in-progress at any given moment. But…we’re normal!
Well, maybe except for the goats-and-chickens-wandering-our-backyard part.
The older I get, and the further along in my parenting I go (going on 15+ years), the more I realize how broad the definition of “normal” is. Normal is what we are used to, it is what we are familiar with. In short, normal is what feels right for our own families. Yet too often we’re prone to be concerned about what everyone else is doing, or if what we are doing is normal or not.
It is so easy to get distracted from what WE want in our own lives and for our own family. With the omnipresence of social media and the Internet, it becomes so glaring at times how different we may be from “the norm” or “mainstream.” Everyone’s resolutions, traditions, goals, vacations, and life is on a public display more than ever before! Don’t be swayed. It doesn’t matter what pins you find on Pinterest, what another’s status is on Facebook, who celebrates what holiday in what way, or if your children willingly gulp down green smoothies each morning.
Be confident and do what’s right for you.
“Normal” or not.
Question: What are some things that set your family apart from others?
Challenge: List the things you do that may not be popular or common, and embrace the uniqueness of your family.
Image courtesy of Tiffany Sowby