There is no such thing as “normal”

Normal: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected:

“it’s quite normal for puppies to bolt their food” ·

antonyms: unusual
  • (of a person) free from physical or mental disorders

A.K.A. some bullshit someone made up who thought they were normal and everyone else wasn’t. And as far as the second part goes, fine! I don’t want to be considered “normal” anyway. :p

First of all let me warn you that this post is going to be slightly biased. I am a stay at home mom. And sometimes I get on the internet and read comments about what stay at home mom’s do or should be doing and it gets me angry. My days are not scheduled, or organized. Some days I get a lot done and some days I sit in my chair and attempt to watch t.v. all day. Everyone always tells me how important it is for not even just me managing my bipolar but also #1’s ADHD to have a routine and let me just tell you–WE DONT. Over the last 5 years I have attempted a million different schedules. I have wrote them in calendars, made alarms on my phone, made charts for the wall, I have tried everything! It goes great for a few days and then it all goes to shit. I either have some kind of depression where I don’t feel like giving the kids a bath or making dinner, or I want to just be gone all day. So I have learned to make sure to keep track of the important things, and just roll with the rest. I’m not saying that scheduling and being organized is a negative thing either. If you can do it, and stick with it I applaud you. But being spontaneous works for us, so that’s what we do. That is the biggest issue I think with parenting now days. Somewhere, somehow someone decided what “normal” was and everyone is trying to conform. Just like in school! God forbid you yell at your child in public, or even worse if they start to throw a fit and you don’t act “appropriately.” (which I have no idea what that even is) Everyone’s child is different, so everyone’s parenting has to be different. What works for your child, may not work for mine. But apparently everyone is an expert now who knows what you’re “supposed” to be doing. It’s gotten to the point where people are afraid to ask even their closest friends for advice. Afraid of being judged, afraid of your kids being scrutinized or singled out. This is so crazy to me! And I know crazy! I will never claim I am an expert of anything. I will give you any advice you want and I will listen to everything you say and troubleshoot however I know how. I will NEVER judge ANY parent for the way they are raising their children. (The exception being if a child is being hurt or abused, then I will definitely question your abilities and alert the proper authorities.) If your kid goes to bed at 8 p.m. every night and never has sweets, cool. If your kid stays up until 11 p.m. and eats Mcdonald’s for dinner, cool. If your kid was potty trained at 2, cool. If your kid is 6 and still wets the bed, cool. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that your child is happy, and you are happy being a parent. Parenting shouldn’t feel like a job. Cleaning is a job. Sales is a job. Being a mom or dad shouldn’t be a job. It’s your life.

Your kids are going to grow into adults that you have shaped and formed based on morals and values you’ve instilled in them and that is a scary thing. Trust me, I get it. You want to send the most productive, well adjusted adults into the world but don’t put extra pressure on yourself to meet a “milestone” or do what the other kids are doing. Kids learn at their own pace, and only what they want to. When your toddler is 3 and still isn’t potty trained, don’t get down on yourself, because as long as he/she is a happy kid being in a diaper, then more power to them. Let them teach you, let them show you they’re ready.

My children have been a learning curve and a constant duh moment in my life. I am always learning new things, not only about them but about the way I work too. I have learned that I have zero patience, and neither do either of my children. I have learned that children are intuitive and resilient by nature. My kids can read me and my mood in a hot second. It’s been extremely difficult with #1 being able to control myself when he is off. I know in my head that no matter what punishment, or amount of yelling I do he isn’t going to hear a word, or stop what he’s doing. Yelling, time out, behavior charts, none of it works. He doesn’t possess the ability at 5 to focus and stop and think and that is the most frustrating thing for me. Somehow even knowing it isn’t going to work I still yell and threaten to take things away and waste so much emotional energy trying to get him to listen to me for no reason. The biggest thing I have been working on is being intuitive to his moods and trying to adjust the way I respond to him. It has been an uphill battle. He is very strong willed and when I get drained I just don’t have the energy to fight with him anymore, so that’s when I need support. My husband has been a huge rock for me the entire time we have been together and I am so grateful to have that. He doesn’t always understand, and I usually get angry for something neither of us can change or because he can’t read my mind to do what I want, but he takes such a huge load off of me when I really need it. Grandparents are great too. My parents are so understanding because my mother also has bipolar disorder. So she knows when I need time to recharge and she gives me that support I need to do it. His teacher is also a complete saint. She has been so patient with him and really communicates with me. I know if I have an issue with him I can send her a note and she will let me know how she sees it. For example: when #1 started on his new Adderall dosage, he started twisting his fingers through the front of his hair. I didn’t make any big deal out of it until it became an impulsive action and he started to get a bald patch. I spoke to his teacher and come to find out she had spoken with the special education teacher and gotten him a fidget toy to keep his hands busy! So, I went out and got him some clay, which was a disaster but worked temporarily and then we went online and found the same toy he was using in class. Poof! He stopped pulling almost completely.

I have made some definite mistakes over the past 5 years and I have no shame in admitting them. There wasn’t some telepathic experience when I delivered #1 that gave me all of the answers. (Although there should be) You cant know all of the answers because just like with adults, children change. They grow and their personalities are shaped and formed and they form their own opinions and thoughts and you have to just try to stay in the loop. Its been a bumpy ride, but I am hanging on. And no attention disorder, or mood disorder is going to stop us from being a happy family.

I challenge you to give yourself a break. Let things get messy. Let them play. Let them eat the candy. Take a bath. Read a book. Kick your feet up and relax and let them discover being alone and what they like. Stop judging other parents for the way they raise their kids. You don’t know their situation and you don’t know their children. Out in public I probably look exhausted and my son probably looks like a brat on mountain dew, but that isn’t our reality. I think the quote that most fits this is, “The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” Be the change, and understand someone instead of trying to “fix” them. Instead of giving your opinion on some mom’s post, give her some encouragement and tell her she’s doing a great job.

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