Normal means up early feeding the littlest tyke and remaining up as one after another opens their sleepy little eyes to take on another day.
Normal means that life gets a bit mechanical: feed this mouth, diaper that bottom, feed another mouth, sit down to play a game, wait...diaper another bottom, convince someone to return to game after interest lost, repeat until lunch and nap time.
Normal means deep breaths, patience lost, hugs all around, and focus on what went well each day.
Normal means what it always has: embrace, do, make, create, and go.
As we agree to a play date here or a birthday there, I figuratively "huddle up" and tell myself that no matter if we all end up crying at some point, we are showing up.
And today, we showed up.
We met friends at an indoor playground, and I am sure I had a wide-eyed "help me" face the entire time while aging years as seconds rolled by. But we showed up. And the kids had a blast. (And just a small shout-out to the mother who allowed her toddler to grab and put his germy mouth on A's precious bottle of pumped milk while I grabbed John--watch your kid, dang it!) But back to that showed up bit...
Thank you "big" boys for playing together while we waited for our friends. Thank you for eating when it was time to eat. Thank you for waiting patiently for a sub-par hot dog that took 15 minutes to come out to the table. Thank you for not throwing a fit. About anything. At any point. We just might venture out again. :)
Thank you for your confidence, W, while running around with friends old and new. Thank you, J, for finding my eyes and smiling proudly at me after you scaled the toddler zone and found the bubble. You both me me prouder than you will ever know.
And you, sweet A, thank you for patience with your bottle. A Ninja Turtle bandaid was needed at some point. Thank you for sleeping peacefully through perhaps the most crowded and chaotic visit we have had there yet. Thank you for no explosive diaper and for handling a nursing session with ease as we stayed longer than planned, had only a toddler germ-infested partial bottle left, and sat at a crowded table while I held one arm out for your brother to down my strawberry-banana smoothie. You are pretty much the sweetest thing.
Normal means we won't have such an excursion every day. Not even every week. But normal means when we do, we are going to show up.