Let me preface this blog post by saying, I didn't grow up "normal." Whatever that means.
For me, it means this: I have no brothers & sisters. I grew up mostly alone, just me & my mom. The girls. "You and me, always, baby" is what we used to say with a big, huge smile. My father was never around, for reasons that would require my writing a book.
But before you go crying me a river, I want to make it clear: I LOVED the way I was raised. Loved how I was the center of my mother's universe. Loved how my grandparents spoiled me rotten, much to the chagrin of their own children, because they worried that I wasn't growing up in a "normal" household. Loved how I spent summers with uncles and cousins at the California beaches, because my mom wanted me to experience the joys of some sort of "normal family." Loved that I was treated like an adult, even at a young age. I remember I always had a reserved seat at the adult's table instead of the kid's table (this always made me feel special). And I recall talking with my grandmother about life's meaning as early as age 7.
There was a time in my life when this all seemed a tragedy to me. During my sometimes-awkward high school years and my soul-searching days in college, I often lamented that I was "different" and somehow missed out on something everyone else had.
But I know better now that I have children of my own. Another beautiful lesson these angels are teaching me.
Case in point: 2-year old girl who is... well, she's 2. As in terribly 2. As in "I wanted the blue fork, NOT the pink fork," (as I duck quickly while fork goes flying over my head & across the kitchen counter, thinking to myself, "she is NOT my daughter!"). As in "I don't want you to put me in my car seat!" (stiffens up, arches back, and kicks when I try to buckle her in). There's no rhyme or reason. The wind could blow a different direction, and it could spark a fit. Last night, I put my pajamas on, and she laid on the floor kicking and screaming and pulling on my jammie-pants, yelling "take 'em offffffff!!! I don't want you to have your jammies on!!!" This morning, she wanted the entire bag of gummy bears, instead of the 2 offered her for going tee-tee in the potty. She didn't get it. Guess what followed?
I could go on and on. Like when we were at the dollar store, and on our way out she demanded that we go back and get her a plastic bag of her own to carry her $1 toy. Didn't happen. So she laid on the dirty floor in front of the entrance, screaming and kicking, while other customers smiled and said, "hey, you're the news lady from channel 11!" Then went on to point and tell their friends, "y'all, that's the news lady and her kids!"
Are you kidding me? This has got to be a joke, I'm thinking.
I felt like saying, "Yes, I am! Now, excuse me while I run to the restroom and have a tantrum of my own. Topped off with vodka martinis and stuffed green olives."
It's usually about that time, I go there. That place and space of self-doubt. The place where all moms go sometimes. The trip I lay on myself about why this is happening to me, why my daughter is acting this way, what did I do wrong to create this? This can't be normal, can't be right. Afterall, I've never seen anything like this.
Then, as always happens, I snap out of it as quickly as a tantrum ends, or when darling 2-year old preschool teacher calmly tells me, "oh the way she's acting is completely normal for her age, and in fact, she's one of the easy ones."
Which makes me feel all happy, tingly, and good inside, but only for a couple minutes, because, you see, there's that word again. "Normal." I didn't grow up that way, remember? I didn't have brothers and sisters to fight. I didn't watch anyone in my house throw tantrums. I don't really know what normal is. And you know what, I'm not sure I really care.
Baby has fits because she's 2. Her big brother has fits because he's 4. Their daddy has fits because he's daddy. I have fits because I'm mommy.
In fact, I'll probably be the next one throwing my fit upstairs, and when the kids ask what happened to me, daddy can just say, "mommy's having a tantrum..."
And they'll ignore me
And love me (hopefully).
Just as I will them, knowing that before I can blink, they'll be the ones in college thinking back on their "normal" or "not-so-normal" growing up.