Another “new normal” day. Another meticulously pre-screened doctor appointment. Another mask being retrieved from the car. Another thermometer waved across my forehead. This is what my world looks like now. I imagine, this is what your world looks like now. We have shifted into a “new normal” and there is nothing normal about it. I should know. I am an expert in living abnormally. I have been living an abnormal life for so long it is normal to be abnormal.

The pandemic we have been facing forced many families, unlike my own, to deal with an abnormal lifestyle as their “new normal.” A simple cough or sneeze that would ordinarily be chalked up to seasonal allergies is enough to make you a pariah at the office. Hand sanitizer is the newest scent of the season and coordinating masks the must have accessory. These were already a part of my abnormal. Granted, I was not donning a mask every time I entered a building, but hand sanitizer was already my equivalent of hot sauce in my purse. Now everyone around me is experiencing my abnormal lifestyle.

Caring for two people that are medically compromised already makes me more cautious with our risk of exposure to well-known treatable viruses. That part of my life did not shift much. However, social enrichments like going to the gym, school, therapy, or going with friends became taboo. All the support systems that were in place to keep my sanity intact and Evie from being bored out of her mind vanished.

Unfortunately, life does not happen in a vacuum and while we were all dealing with this “new normal,” we were also still planning medical procedures, attempting to home school, struggling with virtual therapies, and all the normal things life throws our way. So many of us were reaching our breaking points. Trying to see the rainbow through the grey clouds became difficult for many of us and it required some creativity.

My outlets changed from going to the gym to creating my own culinary concoctions or mastering ones I already knew. With time on my hands, piles of clutter started vanishing and with it the clutter in my mind. I became more resourceful if someone gave me a cabbage, I learned how to cook it; waste not want not, right? I plunged myself into Evie’s communication device to become a better partner for her. Each word she speaks helps push me a little further. We were home a lot, so it was easier to work on those things when the outside world was not allowed to lure us away.

Slowly, things in my state started loosening, much to the dismay of others, and another “new normal” was returning. Hope. I returned to the gym to see smiling eyes and hear muffled words of encouragement. Small intimate gatherings were being planned with optimism. Evie is thriving again since school and therapy routines have resumed. It feels like the dawning of yet another “new normal.” Sure, we are still wearing masks and dousing everything with sanitizer when we venture out into the world, but we are cautiously leaving our homes with hope.