Saturday, March 19, 2016

Celebrate Our Differences

I love going on bike rides with my family. It makes me feel like we're so...normal, even though we are far from it.

No, that's not my family in the picture. But don't they look so normal and perfect? I wonder what secrets they are hiding.

Today we rode to a nearby park. When we got there, Nathan ran around kicking the soccer ball, Julianna went to the swings, and my husband and Blake played basketball. So...normal.

After a little while, the kids headed for the playground where there were some cute little girls playing with their dad and grandma. They seemed so sweet and perfect. Suddenly, Julianna leaned to me and said, "Mommy, that girl doesn't have an ear."

I thought that wasn't possible. The kids continued playing, and this beautiful little girl slid down the slide near me. As she ran by, her long black ponytail bouncing, I saw that her ear was very small and disfigured, as well as the side of her face, slightly. She turned to look at me, smiled, and I smiled back.

I said to Julianna, "You were right. Her ear is different. But that's okay. Everyone has things that make them different. You do, too."

It made me think how much people try to look normal, to fit in. Why is that? What is wrong with being different? What is wrong with talking about our differences? I wanted so much to ask the dad and grandma about their little girl, but then I felt like I'd be pointing out her difference, so instead, I smiled at them, wishing they could read my mind and know that I get it. I know what it's like to have kids that are different.

If they only knew that each one of my kids has something that makes them "un-normal." If they knew that my daughter had autism, that my son was born with a rare blood disorder, that my other son with a birth defect, probably like their little girl was.

Who even has a normal family anymore? I think it's time to celebrate differences and embrace what makes our families unique. Hiding behind the differences only keeps others from connecting to the very people that could be a blessing in their lives. This family could have been a blessing in ours, but I didn't say anything, and I can only hope that we see them again.

I have learned that living in the open is much more freeing than hiding what I am facing as a parent. The friendships and relationships I have made as a result are priceless. Normal is so overrated.

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