Why I No Longer Want My Child To Be Normal
The months and weeks following my daughter’s diagnosis were challenging and lonely. I spent the majority of my time wishing to be like other moms, to find a similarity, to fit in. Wishing to not be different, to not feel alone. But each place I went and each experience I had reminded me that I was, in fact, different.
“I just want to be a normal mom, and I just want Ceci to have a normal life,” I uttered to my own mom on the phone one day.
“And what exactly does that word ‘normal’ mean?” my mom inquired.
I took a deep breath and began:
I want her to have friends. A best friend. Someone she can always sit by at lunch and share secrets and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with. A person who saves a seat for her on the long bus rides home. Someone she knows she can always count on. I want that.
I want her to be able to spend her summers outside. Feet on the hot concrete, running through the sprinklers, laughing in delight as each cool drop of water dances across her sun-kissed skin. And I want to be the one who watches her on those dusky summer evenings from my spot on the porch as she tries, with all her might, to catch lightning bugs. Barefoot in the grass, moonlight softly surrounding her, a smile on her face. I want that.
I want her to drive a car. To feel the sheer exhilaration as she sits in the driver’s seat for the first time without a parent on her righthand side saying, “Blinker, break, blinker, break.” I want her to feel the wind blowing in her hair, the windows down and her music blaring at an ungodly level. Singing at the top of her lungs, embracing her freedom, searching the world for experiences. I want that.
I want her to go to college. And get a degree. To live in a dorm and surrvive off ramen noodles and Totino’s Party Pizzas. I want her to change her major at least two times. To take classes she may never use but that sincerely interest her. I want her to find her passion… her cause, and I want her to know I will support her no matter what. Ponytailed, driven and empowered. I want that.
I want her to find a job she loves. To have an annoying co-worker who will teach her that self-restraint and selective hearing are admirable qualities. I want her to leave work each day with more than just a paycheck. I want her to leave with a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that she has made a difference. I want that.
I want her to buy her own house… with her own money. To learn how to fix a leaky bathroom sink and to kill a spider with no assistance. I want her to pay her bills, mow the lawn and paint the walls. I want that.
I want her to find someone who loves her. Unconditonal love. Someone who appreciates and accepts her for who she is and doesn’t look for ways to change her. A person who will find the beauty in her strong will and laugh at her silly antics. Someone with kind words, a loving heart and an understanding nature. I want that.
I want her to know she’s loved.
And when I stopped and reflected on my wishes, I realized I didn’t want her to be normal at all. Like any mom, what I really want is for her to be happy… whatever her version of happiness may be.
And, suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone.
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