We're in the car riding home from our trip to Philly, where we took a weirdly large number of pictures in front of a stuffed gorilla display. Playing on the DVD: Thomas the Tank, which has been on for an hour straight. Some might consider that a form of child abuse, but my kids can't get enough.
Suddenly Sabrina says, in an attempt at a British accent, "Thomas! You are late!"
Max, Dave and I crack up. She says it again, and then she's using that voice to say things like "Max likes purple!" and I am laughing so hard tears are coming out of my eyes and Max is hysterical with glee.
Then the kids get sucked back into the DVD, and it's quiet again. And I'm thinking, Oh. This is what it's like to be part of a normal family, everyone laughing together over a joke. This sort of thing is happening more now, as Max's comprehension grows, but it's still a relatively new phenomenon.
Yes, sometimes I still think about that normal, even though our family has its own normal. I don't feel pangs of sadness, just a little wistful. And curious. Envious, even, at times. Like when we're in a restaurant and Dave is feeding Max and my eyes wander over to other tables where families are chatting and stuffing their faces, able to enjoy their dinner without the concern of making sure their 8-year-old gets fed.
I wonder about thinking about normal. Haven't I evolved past that? Shouldn't I be evolved past that? When will these thoughts stop?
Maybe they won't stop, and I need to let them just ebb and flow without getting too caught up in them.
Maybe it's normal for any parent to occasionally wonder about a different normal.
Life would be so much less perplexing if we were a family of stuffed gorillas.
I understand this feeling completely. I, too, become wistful looking at other "normal" families. As I have shared in the past my husband has CP and there are times when I wish he did more physical things with my daughters. He is unable to rough house with them. He will never be able to carry them on his shoulders. He can't scoop them out of the car when they have fallen asleep, carry them up the stairs, and put them in their beds. I wonder what that would be like. But then I think that my normal is great. There are so many other things he can do with them.ReplyDelete
I also have the double whammy of my kids being adopted and Chinese. My husband and I are not. So I often wonder what it would be like to have a child that looks like me. I am perpetually known as "the lady with the Chinese girls." I would love to just be an anonymous mom doing her grocery shopping some days.
We make quite the impression when we are together. He has CP. I am fat and the girls are Chinese. Our normal is anything but "normal" but it works for us. There are days when I do get wistful and think of the what ifs.
I do it too. Not in a "I wish my kid was Normal" way, but in a way that I wish we could do things like go on a hike together or go out to eat. But it's getting better, and I hope it will continue to do so. And I'm sure someday I'll wish I could rewind and do it over again, so I try to just focus on enjoying both of them, as they are right now.ReplyDelete
I don't know if I'll ever get past those "what if" moments, but I know that they happen with less frequency. They still happen, though. A lot.ReplyDelete
I was going to write something about how I agree, though there are not-immediately-obvious not-normal/hidden tragedies/etc but I've only had one cup of coffee so far & couldn't pull it together. So I kept clicking and ended up at the bloggess who has a gazillion comments about "normal" so I ended up laughing by myself at my desk. Same word, same day... and that would be the end of the similarities. But still pointing out, just for the chuckle.ReplyDelete
I have these moments all the time! I am hoping they happen less and less as my daughter gets older. There is nothing wrong with my version of normal, but I think it is a natural tendency to think the grass may be greener somewhere else. Human nature, I guess!ReplyDelete
I've felt like that before but then again what's normal anyway? I grew up in a family with all "normal" folks and our road trips consisted of my Mom thinking it was hilarious to try to pinch us with her toes....yes her toes- and my Dad playing Chuck Berry's "My Ding-a-ling" over and over. How did I ever get out of there unscathed?ReplyDelete
We have a saying in my family 'Normal is relative...and none of our's are.'ReplyDelete
It's actually only been in the last few months that I've started having the 'what if' moments. I look at my youngest and he's walking a talking and figuring things out. Everyone says he's very advanced for his age. And I'm finding myself wondering more and more what my oldest two would be like if they hadn't suffered the abuse and neglect at the hands of their birth parents.
What a timely post, as always. We have just begun the registration process for Jr. High for my son. Even though his CP is mild, we have had to worry about things that other families won't have to. What if he's bumped in the hall? What if he can't change for gym class fast enough? How will he open his locker? I find myself in the middle of a not so fun pity party.ReplyDelete
Over our 12 years of tackling our own "normal", I realize that for us, this is normal. I love him, I love the friends that he has made and I know that in the end, everything will be great because I am his best expert and voice and I can be loud! Thanks Ellen.
I think these feelings are perfectly natural and do ebb and flow at different times.ReplyDelete
And there is no "should!"
I'm tired of "shoulding" myself!
At least be comforted in the fact that there is no true normal... everyone wishes for the "normal normal" even families that do not have all the difficulties and complications that you have.ReplyDelete
yep i get that and thats my rollercoaster downhill nosedive right there...the what if thoughts that plunge me to darkness! im not doing it so much now (2 and a bit years after diagnosis) but they do jump on me from time to time and rugy tackle me to the floor! i am sick of shoulding myself as well. i think its time to stop! xxxxReplyDelete
I do the same thing, Ellen. I think it's normal.ReplyDelete
This particular sentence hit home..."Maybe they won't stop, and I need to let them just ebb and flow without getting too caught up in them."ReplyDelete
That's some great advice...I'm going to try that.
Why should my kids be normal? I certainly am not!ReplyDelete
Nothing wrong with thinking, so long as you don't obsess.
I don't think I go there very often at all. I look at most other families and mostly think how pleased I am that they are not my kids, that I don't have to deal with the moderately, average, run of the mill life rather than the fascinating, intriguing, unchartered trip we are on. The only things I really get 'wistful' about is not having a kid who could open and shut the gate as I drive through especially in the rain when the cows have had a meet and greet 'poop' session in the gateway and the sleep thing.ReplyDelete
I think it's completely ok to think like that sometimes. We all do - even though my child doesn't have any 'disabilities', I still wonder, what if we were more like 'normal' families? Our daughter is two today, and she is freakishly well-behaved. Sometimes I find myself worrying she is going to be run over in life, and wishing she had 'normal' toddler tantrums. Then I stop and go, "Whoa! Count your blessings and stop borrowing trouble!"ReplyDelete
I just came across this post and am so thankful I did. I had a playdate last week with a friend whose daughter has the same birthday as my daughter Emma. Her daughter kept referring to Emma as "the baby" because Emma was in the jumperoo (they are both 20 months old) and Efie is of course walking. I had to leave the room and collect myself many times. I love my family, but the wish to be "normal" often creeps in. It's so nice to hear that other people have a shared experience with me. Little things like a trip to the grocery store is hard because it is hard to get Emma to sit up in the cart. Her bright smile reminds me that I wouldn't change a thing though!ReplyDelete
Thank you. No really, THANK YOU for this post. I always love your posts, but this one came at just the right time. I was just lamenting over the fact that I don't want to have OUR normal ~ I don't want our normal to have to be different than everyone else's normal. I know that's not exactly what you were posting about, but it is nice to know that eight years in, you still think about the 'other normal.' Knowing that you still do it makes everything a little more right with the world. :)ReplyDelete
I am new to your site but just wanted to thank you for your blog. I found your site last night when I was looking for some encouragement from other moms with the gift of a special need child. Already your words have brought me comfort, tears and laughter! My son is 2 1/2 with a rare genetic condition that was diagnosed in the NICU. He is an absolute gift and brings me so much joy every day! It's so great to read about your experiences and to remember that I'm not the only one on this journey. Thank you!ReplyDelete
I too adore your blog. It's something I contemplate often -- just what is 'normal'. In fact, my very first post a year ago was published in TAP Magazine (The Autism Perspective) a few years back. You can find it on my blog at www.theothersideofnormal.wordpress.comReplyDelete
God bless you all. And keep fighting!
I don't like normal. Normal is boring, mundane, ordinary, unexceptional, and monotonous. Different is diverse, exciting, spontaneous, and being the flute in a sea of trombones and trumpets.ReplyDelete