Saturday, November 29, 2008

The New Norm

We have a new norm at our house. 

During the week, my husband wakes up and showers while the kids get ready for school. I make lunches and beds and run around like a crazy woman shouting orders (and the occasional obscenity). Then we all assemble in the kitchen for breakfast before Jim takes the kids to the bus, just as he has done every day for years. 

The difference now is that instead of going to work directly from the bus stop, he comes home. And instead of wearing a pair of pressed khakis and a button down shirt, he is sporting a pair of worn jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt. We've settled into this new routine rather nicely. And nobody, except for my dry cleaner, seems to miss the old gig. It's the new norm. (and the dry cleaner will have to get used to it).

One day last week, Jim had an early morning meeting and so instead of dressing like Weekend Warrior Jim, he dressed like the Jim of (not so) long ago in a nice pair of pressed brown slacks and a light blue button-down. I knew where he was going, in fact, I put my stamp of approval on the outfit, (another of my morning duties) but my daughter didn't know that he had a meeting to attend. 

I was in the hall when she approached me with those enormous eyes of hers that can get as big as saucers when she hears or sees something that she shouldn't hear or see. That morning, her eyes were the size of dinner plates. She came very close and leaned up against me with her back turned toward my bedroom door where Jim was putting the finishing touches on his (smashing) outfit and whispered, "Um, Mom, why is Dad getting dressed for work?" I glanced over at Jim and then back to her and knew immediately what she was trying to say: "My father is losing his mind and has forgotten that he is unemployed. Do something." She's seen this type of bizarre behavior in movies and read about it in books, but now she thinks she's living it first hand. 

To be honest, she might have expected something like this from her mother, but certainly not from her father who has always been of sound mind and body. It must have been unnerving to watch her one sane parent, the guy that she can always count on, well, slipping a bit. But maybe I'm being overly dramatic. Maybe she was just being optimistic and thought that he had landed a new job over the weekend. (and we failed to mention it to her?) Either way, somebody had some explaining to do and that somebody was me.

After I stopped laughing hysterically, I assured her that he was not losing his mind, he simply had an early morning meeting and was dressing the part. Period. She took a deep breath and I watched the color come back to her cheeks and her eyes return to their normal size. 

Hopefully, those pressed khakis and button-down oxford shirts will be making their way out of the closet more and more often over the next couple of weeks. And then, we'll have another norm to contend with at our house. I anxiously await that day (as does my dry cleaner.)

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