Saturday, July 20, 2013

Normal? - Blog Hop!

Mardra, over at is hosting a blog hop and her question is: What does normal mean to you?

One of our girls was at work recently and had someone tell her - sincerely - that she was very special. She said thank you but it made her feel uncomfortable because that word has always described Beth's world. Special is a great word. It can bring feelings of accomplishment, warmth, love... but to our family, who has a child with 'special needs', it brings emotions of a different kind.

The word 'Normal' is the same way. 'Normal' has taken on an uneasy familiarity to me since Beth was born. I never really thought about the word before that. Like when you buy a new car, suddenly you see them everywhere! Now it seems I hear the word normal all. the. time.

Normal, in societies eyes, is something Beth will never be.

Normal is something I've questioned a lot since Beth was born. How do you describe it to someone? It's quite relative, if you ask me. Like weather. What's cold to me is balmy to you. What's normal to you is... well, what IS the opposite of normal? How do you know?

Webster's Dictionary puts it this way:
normal 1. adj conforming to the norm, standard, regular, a normal temperature. Conforming to the standard for a particular group.

So, if I understand it right, normal is: changing who you are (conforming) to fit in with a group. Or, in other words, normal is being in a clique? Really Webster?

When Beth was a teenager and we'd go shopping, the girls would sometimes act silly at the mall, laughing and talking loudly, as many teenagers do. But when Beth did it, I would tell her to stop because I was afraid people would think she was acting that way because she had Down Syndrome, not because she was a teenager. When others acted that way I wouldn't think twice about it, it wouldn't even distract me. I'd keep walking, and keep shopping. But Beth? I'd tell her to stop it. I'd get embarrassed. I'd wish she'd just 'act normal'.

But she was.

But having that extra chromosome makes everything she does, everything she says, seem different. Makes it NOT normal.

I don't know what normal means to me. Personally I don't think 'normal' means belonging to a clique. I think normal is relative. What is normal to me is not normal to you. The life he lives is normal to him, but is not normal to me.

The life I have is normal to me. Getting stared at when we walk into a restaurant is normal now. It's normal for me to be constantly watching Beth when we're out somewhere to make sure she doesn't fall. Normal is having the DART bus pull into our driveway. Normal is the Special Olympics medals hanging on Beth's wall.

What is normal to you?


Mardra said...

Thank you for sharing this awesome post! I always suspected Webster was a Jerk. :)
But really,
I, too, have struggled with pushing Marcus to look or act a way that's contrary to his nature because I worried about what people think. I hate it when I do that and I have to stop myself. I hate admitting it now, because I love all of Marcus' uniqueness - so what is it about always striving for Webster's clique?
with or without the extra chromosome, Marcus' was doomed to not be normal, he's way too cool for that.

Margaret Bender said...

Normal is life with a wonderful young adult with down syndrome. I like my normal and I love your post! Except those numbers in her "prove you are not a robot" are not normal - they are very very small. :)

Stephanie said...

I loved this post, Cindy. I have actually come to hate the word normal because people always use it in reference to typical developing kids, meaning Owen isn't normal because of Down syndrome. I just don't agree with that. I do think Owen is normal; I just think he has some challenges that others don't have. And really who is "normal"?? We all have quirks and challenges!

ckbrylliant said...

Normal is reading your blog and feeling fulfilled and thankful each and every time. Reading the thoughts of someone who I can relate to and feel 'normal' around though not in their presence.

Jenny said...

This was excellent! I agree, I think "normal" means something different to everyone.