"In birth class, they tell you that the arrival of a baby means you will have to adjust to a new normal," says Rachel Szostek, the mom of a boy with autism. "What I wish they had told me was that there is no such thing as normal in the first place. It's just a setting on the washer."
Alongside a photo of her son wearing a shirt that says "normal" posted to the Love What Matters Facebook page, Szostek continues to explain her thoughts behind "being normal."
Our son is different. He has autism, and many see that as abnormal. There is nothing abnormal about my son — he is human, and that is about as normal as we all get. I am neurotypical, but sometimes I do abnormal things like set the kitchen on fire accidentally (NOT a cook). Baby J is neurotypical, but boy his tantrums push me to the edge. And Mr. J is neurotypical but OH MY GOSH can't remember anything to save his life. This is all normal. These are all variations of normal. . . .
It's time to stop pushing for a universal norm and instead celebrate our differences. Our culture is better when we let everyone have a voice. We learn different perspectives, understand that love and hurt are universal. We begin to understand that how people interpret the world is NOT universal. My two boys have completely different perspectives about nearly everything, but they love each other so fiercely they fall asleep touching every single night. Because normal is what you make it.
Szostek continues her heartfelt post, explaining that five years ago she thought that autism was "a horrible disease and the most devastating diagnosis a child could receive" — until she had J.
"Because my normal now encompasses a whole lot of difference, I look at the world with a more patient and more tolerant perspective. Imagine if everyone did this," she wrote. "Normal isn't about forcing someone into a mold, though that is what we have made it. So let's redefine normal. Let's make normal a spectrum of ability that celebrates all kinds of differences. Let's shift some paradigms and stop talking about what 'should' be and start accepting what 'is.'"