Absurd Normalcy

Ever notice how, amidst any crisis or issue, life of course goes on, and everyday occurrences can take on an absurd quality? For example, World War Three may be breaking out at home but people gotta eat, so let’s all stop fighting for a minute and gather ‘round for a bite… 

I love the scene toward the beginning of the movie, Little Miss Sunshine, when the seemingly dysfunctional family is trying to have a discussion, albeit an awkward one, with the newly arrived depressed uncle and the teenage son who has taken a “vow of silence”, and in the midst of it all, the mom is moving feverishly to get dinner on the table. She sets out a bucket of KFC, plates, side dishes…the meal added a touch of “absurd normalcy” to it all.  I’ve thought about that a lot these past few days, that when everything seems to be going haywire, good moms try to keep things as normal as possible… 

As expected, our teenage daughter did not like the new house rules we established for cell phones and TV watching last week, but what we didn’t expect was the degree to which she decided to blame it all on our foreign exchange student. Sparks flew between them all weekend, and things were not pretty.  All I wanted to do was go cry into my pillow, but instead I needed to help out at talent show practice, drive Girl Scout cookie forms to the cookie coordinator’s house, drive kids to practices, pick up kids from tutoring, plan this week’s meals, grocery shop, and offer guidance to Emmie and her friend as they put together their science fair board. I stole a cry when I could.  At the grocery store, I ran into my younger daughter’s math teacher rounding a corner near the applesauce and wondered if she could see that my eyes were red and swollen.  Glad I wear transition glasses a lot that are always either tinted or smudged.  I squinted as I read the nutrition facts on the box of Frosted Mini Wheats…

Late last evening, things got to the point that we called a mobile crisis intervention team to stop by the house, a free local service that provides trained counselors to help sort out difficult situations. As we sat and talked, I had to excuse myself a minute to head outside to the grill— well, I couldn’t let the jalapeno bacon cheddar burgers just burn…

And this morning, still reeling from the events of the last few days and functioning on only three hours of sleep, there I was pushing a grocery cart again, this time in a different store, staring at the meat case.  Yeah, life may feel like it’s falling apart, but, hey, fresh chicken tenders are on sale, and mom’s still gotta feed everyone and keep a sense of absurd normalcy around here, right? (or is it normal absurdity?) I was actually grateful for the overly friendly dose of cheer this time when the checker asked, “And how are you doing today?” It forced me to smile, which felt good.

“I’m hanging in there,” I replied.  “Hoping to grill again tonight before the winter storm hits.”

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