Normal does not exist.
Kathy Heath, wrote the article "When the pandemic is over, my family won't go "back to normal"" to provide some insight into what life looks like for families who have children with differing abilities and how normal, for them, looks very different. She describes this by saying, "If missing birthday parties or not going to the movies really bugs you, remember that for parents of kids with disabilities, it's always been this way." The pandemic ruthlessly entered our lives about a year ago and at the time, we could all agree that some time at home would be beneficial. Heath and her family live in Canada, so her experience is based off of the restrictions in her country, but the feelings she has about the situation are similar to ours over here. A lot of parents are experiencing feelings of stress and exhaustion and longing for the day that their children can really be out of the house and go back to living their life normally. Heath writes, "pandemic parenting is actually a whole lot like disability parenting, and these are questions parents of kids with disabilities confront every single day, regardless of the coronavirus. We'll be dealing with many of these same restrictions long after COVID-19 is over." Parents in these situations are often confronting unforeseen challenges and face harsh realities and roadblocks every single day. Most of these families have long lists of these that they can't do without carefully mapping out or planning the excursion fully; almost nothing is spontaneous. What Heath is trying to accomplish by the message in this article is that once the pandemic is over and everyone resumes their life as they have been longing to, they experience feelings of compassion for those whose normal does not look like the idealistic picture that everyone else has been seeing in their heads for all this time. She refers to this pandemic as a "crash course" in disability parenting and asks the other mothers reading the article to teach their children about the beauty of differences and to remember the benefits of inclusion in the future. We are all longing for the normalcy we once knew; whatever that may look like for you and your family.