Normal Enough

I consider myself an extremely confident person. 

There is nothing I can’t do. 

I finished college a year early. 

Leave the house without makeup on. 

Made YouTube videos without any make-up on. 

Have no interest in getting plastic surgery of any kind. Not even botox. 

Make decisions and face the benefits or the consequences of those decisions. 

Am accountable for myself and I don’t give “AF” what people think about me. 

But then there is the other me. The mother. 

Being a mother was my biggest accomplishment. But I feel like I always failing myself, my daughter, my stepson, and our family because this is where my confidence falls to pieces. This is where I become conscious and concerned about people outside because my child does not possess the same confidence that I do. 

She is vulnerable to the people around her. 

Sometimes, It feels like I am the one trapped inside of a cage. Like an animal. But an animal that was turned from a human into an animal. The opposite of this story. 

Last week I taught Karen Russel’s short story, “St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” for the first time to one of my Literature classes. It was also the first time I had ever read the story as well. 

In class, we viewed a video version that my students absolutely hated because they said it was “creepy and weird.” 

It was supposed to lead us into a discussion about conformity and whether or not it is acceptable in our society to want to change people who are different. Different by sexual orientation, gender, disability, and so on. 

But first, we wound up in a discussion defining what we consider to be “creepy and weird.” The video was strange to keep it simple. 

After reading this story and watching the short film, it became clear to me that I relate most to the nuns in the story while raising my daughter. 

This is what therapy feels like sometimes, especially ABA. 

Like we are trying to convert a wild animal into a person.

Can they all become people and what about the ones who can’t? 

What would become of them?

This leaves me with the question: is it okay to change people?

Do I want to completely change my child? The end scene where Claudette [one of the girls raised by wolves later trained to be human] visited her wolf-like mother in the woods who barely recognized her changed me. When she said, “I told my first human lie—I’m Home.” I was left sitting there with my jaw wide-open. I replayed the scene about four times. It was powerful. 

I thought long and hard about my child. Do I want her to feel like this? Like we have changed her so much that she feels like an entirely different person. 

Do we want her to be an entirely different person?

The answer is complicated for me. I want her to be “normal enough” that she is not noticeably different. 

“Normal enough” to function without me. 

“Normal enough” to reach a level of confidence parallel to her brilliance. 

Hopefully someday, she’ll be as confident as her mother. My goal is to give her the tools, not to chip away at her like a sculpture of some other kid I imagined she’d be.  

Is there a middle ground when it comes to “normal” or conformity? How much should we want to change our children?

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Published by mischiefmomma

Mischief Momma was started in 2016 to write about the playful truths of parenting and life. In 2017, MM began to focus more on writing about parenting and life on the spectrum and raising her daughter and stepson. She writes about the joys, humor, and struggles of raising children who are different, and navigating obstacles like childcare, education, and work. This mom writes about her journey upward after hitting rock bottom.

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