For most of my life, the worst word, the worst insult, the worst thing to be was normal. I hated normal. Normal was boring and sad and pedestrian. I didn't want to dress normal or talk normal or read normal or listen normal or care normal. I wanted to dress weird, talk weird, read weird things, listen to weird music and care about weird things. I fought to separate myself from normal.
I know now that my rebellion was still normal. And that even if it hadn't been. Even if I was rebelling when no one else was, I was rebelling in all the normal ways. I didn't dress like the "normal" kids, but I didn't dress like no one else, I dressed like the "weird" kids. I found cultural identity while trying to shed cultural identity.
Even now, I don't want to be called normal. When the doctor tells me my thyroid levels are "in the range of normal," I bristle. I don't want to be normal. I want to be excellent. Different. Better, smarter, crazier, prettier, better. I don't want to read best sellers because that's what normal people read. I don't want to listen to music on the radio because that's what normal people listen to. I still haven't outgrown my intense and overwhelming desire to be something else. Something spectacular. Something different. Something weird.
Being a mother gives me a new perspective on normal, though.
When Brynna had her hearing tested after her ear surgery and the doctor said it was back in the range of normal, I nearly cried with joy. When her teacher says that her stress over social interactions at school is normal I breathe a sigh of relief. When she struggles with something, I want to know if that's normal. When she fights something I want to know if that's normal.
I have looked up each and every milestone she has reached to make sure her timing was normal. I have queried on bulletin boards and asked, "Is this normal?" I have read stories of others' children and thought, "Brynna does/doesn't do that. Is she normal?"
I used to read a blog about a little girl who had SPD and I would think about all the things that this little girl and my little girl had in common and wonder if Brynna had SPD. Was she going to struggle? Would she be normal?
Today, I read a post on Girls Gone Child about siblings. I cried. And I cried. And then I cried some more. Not because I get it. I don't. I was 13 when my only sibling was born. But, because I read this story of a boy who loves his sister pushing her into a table and I felt, "Oh. It's normal. What Brynna does is normal. Their relationship is normal. It's all going to be okay, because thank God, they are normal."
I have worried for months about their relationship. About the jealousy (on both parts, Maren won't let me read to Brynna without pounding on her door), about the outbursts, the anger, the frustration, the hurt.
Last night, at the grocery, Maren bit Brynna. Hard. Left teeth marks. For a moment, I thought she had broken skin. Brynna cried, demanded a band-aid, extorted a chocolate bar. But she wasn't mad at Maren. "Her teeth probably hurt," she said, "She wouldn't have done it if she had her paci."
I underestimate Brynna. Time and time again, I think I know what she will do, how she will react. "I know my kid." I reassure myself. And time and time again, she surprises me. She acts with patience and forgiveness when I wait for revenge. She acts with kindness when I expect callousness. She is so much more than I expect her to be.
She is beautiful. Heartbreakingly beautiful. She is kind. Most of the time. She is smart. Worrisome smart. She is creative. More creative than I have ever been. She is a writer. An artist. A craftsman. An intellectual. A questioner. A fighter. A peacemaker. A warrior. A determined soul. A sponge. An elegant lady. A tree climber. A tom boy. A girly girl. An angel. A troublemaker.
Ask Brynna what she wants to be when she grows up and she will shrug and say, "Lots of things." The list includes, but is not limited to astronaut, singer, teacher, mother, dog groomer, vet, ballerina, princess, cowgirl, firegirl (the Brynna-ized female fireman). I want to tell her. I want to make sure she knows that she doesn't have to wait until she's grown up to be lots of things. She is lots of things now. She is so much. So much.
So much more than normal. So much better than normal. I look at her and I see the kind of abnormal I always wanted to be.