This New Different School Year Reminds Me Of My New & Different Normal

We just started yet another brand new and different school year with new and different elements our youth now face due to the pandemic. For example, students greeting one another, teachers and staff from behind masks — and the controversy surrounding having to do so.

Distancing practices put in place. Some of their peers not returning as parents have opted for virtual learning. They'll endure long bus rides to and from school because of transportation and driver shortages creating longer routes.

And then, of course, there's the lingering possibility that schools will again close and return to full remote learning. A normal new school year has become a new and different type of year school.

Fresh eyes, new perspectives

What hasn't changed for our young people is the excitement of gathering school supplies and backpacks, perhaps donning new outfits and uniforms, sneakers or shoes, taking the inevitable first-day-of-school pictures to commemorate this special occasion, and looking forward to reuniting with the classmates that have been missed over the summer break.

Additionally, there's the anticipation of seeing what the new school year might bring and for some, delving proudly into middle school, freshman, and senior statuses.

Throughout my life, I have encountered circumstances that made differences in my current state at the time, new. New jobs and relationships. Having children for instance made things different. With new jobs come new hours, maybe more or less travel, perhaps financial changes. A relationship might bring sharing of my space and time, more time away from home, compromises not required when single, and so on.

With children, there's a totally new dynamic, especially in the beginning, interrupted schedules, loss of sleep, higher expenses, sacrifices to make quite different from when childless.

A different and new normal

The main new normal for me, however, was when multiple sclerosis unsolicitedly entered my life and like the new and different school year, my life became new and different.

Assistive and mobility devices and vehicles, spontaneity and independence gone, physical changes, medications, home health aides, sensory issues, pain, and more have all become my new normal.

However, there are things that haven't changed for me. I still enjoy good movies, great books, and writing. I continue to find it fun to get dressed and take scenic rides when I can. I like watching funny videos with my J's and cuddling with my little, spoiled Chihuahua. 

I look forward to my birthday, my children's birthdays, special occasions, and holidays. I still love long showers when I can. I'm sedentary, but I still have my joy. Different? A new normal? Yes and yes. But doable.

The importance of maintaining optimism

The bottom line is we desire for our youth - and what they need and deserve is a qualitative education. And as for myself, I desire, need, and deserve a fulfilling quality of life in spite of the perils and differences MS has introduced me to.

With that in mind, despite present circumstances, differences and mediums, prayerfully, students will be afforded an exciting and productive new school year and I will be afforded the ability to continue to find peace and maintain optimism within my new and different normal.

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