Go on- admit it- you dress a certain way, wear your hair in a certain style, speak in a certain lingo.... all because you feel it will be acceptable to the group of people within which you interact.
When you know someone will be visiting your house, you clean it, don’t you? I mean, you don’t want them to see your clean, but unsorted washing, lying in heaps on the lounge, do you? Or those couple of pots that have been waiting to be washed for a day or two. I’m sure it’s not just me that does this!
How about our kids..... we want them to be normal too, don’t we? We want them to be able to fit in, be accepted, have friends, do well at school, maybe play a sport or learn an instrument. You know, “normal”.
But what if your children can’t be “normal”. What if they can’t ‘conform to a standard’ or act in ‘usual, typical, or expected’ ways? When I ask this I’m not referring to when kids have a tantrum, or are not coping due to over tiredness. I mean- what if your child has some sort of disability that means they can not fit the mould of “normal”? What if they will never be able to walk? Or speak? What if they will never have the social skills or the desire to enter into a long term romantic partnership, or even friendship?
What if, like me, you have Autistic children? What is normal then? Is normal attainable? Or are you destined to exist on the edge of society in some sort of abnormal parallel universe?
The thing that I’ve come to realise is that everybody has a different normal. In every household what is usual, typical or expected will in some ways be similar, and in other ways be very different.
Today my normal included sitting in a dark hallway helping my youngest daughter recover from a sensory overload meltdown. Yesterday my normal included helping my eldest son manage an anxiety attack over some homework he’d been unable to complete on time due to illness. The day before my normal included spending lots of money on mood stabilising medications for my Wonderful Husband who has Bipolar Disorder. Every day my normal includes about 2 loads of washing, preparing dinner for 7, some mums taxi duty, time spent writing something, time spent reading something.
I guess that for many of you reading this, your everyday has some of the same stuff as mine. But for some of you it will be different. You might have disability other than Autism
and Bipolar in your house. You might have more or less children than I do. You might be a bit of a slob like me or you might be able to keep your house pretty clean most days.
Can we do something for each other, then?
Can we stop comparing ourselves to each other? Can we get on with doing what is right for our own families, and accepting the differences of others? Can we show compassion and acceptance for others who do things differently than we do, whether it be by choice or out of necessity?
Because, really, this parenting gig is hard enough as it is, don’t you think? We don’t need to be adding to each others burden and our own stress levels with this endless pursuit of a mythical “normal”. And we certainly don’t need our kids to see us doing this and think that it is good. Do we?