Growing Up Normal…

Despite a very abnormal entrance into the world, my life up to this point couldn’t be more normal. I was born with a very serious birth defect. At just minutes old I was producing way more mucus in my nose and mouth than what is normal. I had a deformity where my esophagus was connected to one of my lungs instead of my stomach. It was pretty obvious to the Naval hospital doctors that emergency surgery was needed to save my life. At just three hours old I had the surgery. It was successfully and obviously I survived. My parents were told that the survival rate for girls with this condition was much higher than it was for boys. As a matter of fact, after my surgery was done and they knew I was going to be ok, the doctors told my mom that a male infant had recently died at that same hospital as a result of the same condition. It was unusual that not one but two babies would have the same rare condition at nearly the same time.

Not long after my recovery our family, which included a year old brother, moved back to Chicago as my dad was out of the Navy. My dad worked and went to college at University of Illinois Chicago and three years later my “Normal” life began. A job offer from State Farm Insurance brought us to the small Midwestern town of Normal, IL. As small Midwestern towns go, Normal was, pretty normal. There were a few large employers, State Farm being one of the largest in Normal’s twin city, Bloomington. There was a state college, a few high schools and grade schools and not much of anything else. I spent age three to eighteen in an area of town that was pretty much “white picket fence” without the white picket fences. It was kid friendly and safe. The three homes I lived in while growing up were within a mile radius of one another.

Unlike most people I know, I actually went to kindergarten through high school graduation in the same school district. As mobile as we are as a society these days, that is actually pretty rare. After graduating from Normal Community High School I did the “normal” thing and went on to college. My move to the University of Illinois took me to another Midwestern town quite similar to Normal. Champaign-Urbana was my home for the next four years while I pursued a degree in advertising. I dreamed of an exciting career in the “big city”. Of course I am referring to Chicago. But bad luck and a bad economy resulted in an advertising position with a home improvement chain, in you guessed it, another normal, Midwestern town. This time it was Eau Claire, WI. My stay there wasn’t long, but I met my husband and got married while I was there.

When I needed a change, back to Champaign-Urbana we went. Kids came next and life as a working mom and wife was pretty normal. My days were filled with work and kids activities. By now you must be wondering what brought me to Arizona and a career at Allstate. Well, a failing marriage that needed new life and new beginning resulted in a cross country move with two kids in tow. Unfortunately (or more accurately, fortunately) the marriage needed more than a change in scenery could provide and I soon found myself single again. As strange and as sad as this may sound, I feel like this part of my journey in life was pretty typical and “normal”. Divorce and single parenthood are so common these days, it’s not considered abnormal at all. Single parenthood and the need for a better job and benefits is what eventually led me to Allstate. With a little nudging from my retired “Good Neighbor” parents, I started looking for claims jobs and nearly eleven years later I am still enjoying my insurance career.

The best part of my extremely normal life now is my new husband and our blended family. Nine years ago, we were both looking for love again and we each decided to give online dating a try. We were matched on eHarmony on the first weekend my husband joined and met in person six weeks later. To this day I still tease him about what a bargain he was for me as I only signed up for three months just to see if I liked it. He on the other hand paid a premium for me as he paid for an entire year and found me in just a day or two. Online dating for years was considered sketchy and odd, but nowadays, you guessed it, it is pretty normal.

I’ve been married now for six years and not only did I gain a husband, but I gained two new daughters and a few years later an adorable granddaughter. The only thing not normal for me these days is having a little one calling me “Grammy”!


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