What’s Normal?


When my firstborn was three weeks old, I called my lactation consultant.  “Is it, um, normal for him to cry, like, for hours at a time? Because he does, and… uh, I am just wondering, is that normal? Just what a newborn does?” She paused, then answered simply, “No, it’s not normal.” That was all she said. She didn’t elaborate, didn’t offer me any advice on how to proceed, didn’t talk about colic or reflux.  I was left hanging, wondering how I had managed to break my child already. My baby wasn’t “normal.”

That was only the beginning of my tenuous relationship with the word “normal” as a parent. “Please tell me this is normal,”  my friends and I say to each other. Regularly. They are loaded words. What we are really asking is, Am I doing this right? Am I missing something? Do I need to call a pediatrician? Do I need to call a psychologist? Do I need to chill out? Is this a phase, or is this for real?

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I try my best, but it is very, very hard to be a confident parent in this age. I envy my mother, who just did what everybody did and it all worked out somehow. Parenting seemed less self-conscious back in the ’70s. Especially when I was a newer parent, everyone was up in my business. It was not just a choice to breastfeed or cloth diaper; it was a political statement. Organic food or fancy, BPA-free bottles or sippy cups were class issues. Whether our kids played with cheap plastic toys made in China or expensive, safe, green toys made in Germany reflected upon our parenting. Now that my kids are older, it’s time to worry about test prep and school options and extracurriculars. No matter what I do with my children, I feel judged somehow by someone.

But the real struggles, I have found as my kids aged, are not over tangible choices like diapers or cups. The really hard things are the ones we don’t want to talk about with just anyone, the intangibles of parenthood. One of my children, for example, was an extremely tough three-year-old. He had out-of-control temper meltdowns with me; he hit and kicked and I ended up having to straddle him and hold him down just to defend myself until he could calm down. That isn’t the kind of thing you just bring up casually at playgroup or Bunco. “Hey, does anyone else have a violent kid who strikes her? Did you find time-outs as useless as I do when the kid is trying to bite your hand off? Anyone?”

Similarly, when I came to terms with the fact that one of my boys really did need speech therapy, it was hard to know what to say to my friends. “Oh, we can’t make playgroup because… well, because nobody including me and my husband can understand a dang thing out of my child’s mouth, and though he looks two years older than he is, he sounds like a baby, so he has to go to therapy every week.” People get hinky when it comes to talking about your child needing “HELP,” even for something as basic and functional and common as speech therapy. It’s like we’re not supposed to admit that our children need help — or that we need help — sometimes. In the meantime, my internal dialogue runs overtime: Is he having trouble talking because he stopped moving in the womb and I had to have that emergency induction at 37 weeks? I waited 12 hours before going to triage that night — if I had gone in the night before instead, would he be okay? Is this within the normal range of issues? Will he someday speak clearly and easily and no one will ever know he went through this?

I worried about so many little — and so many big — things over the years.  It’s normal, right, that one child didn’t really read fluidly and wrote some of his numbers and letters backwards well into kindergarten?  Was it normal that a 3 year old woke up in the middle of the night shaking with night terrors? Is it normal that he still does it now at 8? Is it normal for my son to love his penis that much? Is it normal that the other one doesn’t touch his penis at all? Is it normal that one child cannot stand to lose a game, any game, to the point of losing his mind if he even falls behind? Is it normal for another child to be this defiant, this stubborn, that no consequence holds any power over him? Is it normal for a child to tell you he worries every single day at school that you might not pick him up and he will never see you again? And let’s not even get started on me — Is it normal for me to lose my temper so quickly, to cry so easily, to worry so much?

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I have come to learn that “normal” has a broad definition when it comes to children, and that parenting is, for me, more like reading a book than solving a math problem. Instead of only having one “right” way to get an answer, with one “right” set of steps to follow to obtain that answer, I mull, experiment, interpret, and re-interpret the material over and over again until I develop my own point of view and my own solution. My parenting is an essay question, not a formula to solve. But, as with some of my college English classes, occasionally I stumble upon material that goes a little over my head or beyond my realm of experience, and I am a little lost out at sea. Unfortunately, that is when I feel most alone. I don’t know whom to trust or not to trust. I have to pick and choose who can handle my honesty and my requests for support. I have to know who won’t judge me, or judge my children, for our possible deficiencies or flaws or socially unacceptable quirks. I even need to know who won’t judge me for asking the questions in the first place. That’s when I most need to know that this is “normal.”

The real fear creeps in to my head at night and keeps me from sleeping: what if it really isn’t normal? What does that mean, exactly? Can I fix it? Because when all is said and done, what I really want to say when I plead, “Tell me this is normal,” is,

Please don’t let me screw up the most important people in the world to me.”

Related post: The Myth of Protection

About the writer


Allison is a writer and a mother of four children. Her writing can be found at her own blog, Allison Slater Tate, on Facebook, and Twitter.

From Around the Web


Jamie 3 months ago

Reading your post made me feel stressed and sad. The only one judging you is YOU. Reach out for help if you need it!

KATHY 3 months ago

I work at the ER and I see women who bring their children in for “crying” and I think, why didn’t it ever occur to me to do that? No seriously! My son would cry for hours on end and I thought it was “normal”. He was my first baby, I was a young parent. Whenever I did bring something up to a pediatrician, like the fact that my son through up a lot, they dismissed my stories as being that of such a young mother. I used to carry BATH towels everywhere I went. Not normal. My son has Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) and he has reflux. He was not diagnosed until he was 17 years old. This is not to say that I didn’t try repeatedly over the years to get him help from various doctors, because I did, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty that I should’ve done something more, that I could’ve been more proactive!

Kelly 3 months ago

Man. I read this and thought “omg this is talking to me” my 3 yr old has all these issues and more. My 5tr old has just finished 2 yrs of speech. And my 2 yr old is pigeon toed and trips over constantly. I get told constantly that mr3 is a “normal” 3 yr old and then I get home and he screams for 3 hrs because he doesn’t want to go to sleep even though it’s nearly midnight and he’s been awake since 5… Thank you, at least I know now in not the only one who hates “normal”

Amy K. 3 months ago

Parenting is totally one long essay question!! And normal is such a hard word…

Wendy 3 months ago

Just finish the question: Is this normal FOR THIS CHILD? Even close siblings can be completely different. You’ll learn what is normal for each of your children. In the meantime, you do what we all do: the very best we can for these loves of ours. Chin up, Mama. You’re doing just fine and you are NOT alone.

Sarah 3 months ago

The most sage piece of advise I have heard is that if you care enough to be worried about screwing your kids up, then you probably aren’t.

Jessica 3 months ago

If you have some tips for the defiance, stubbornness and consequences not working I’d appreciate them. Same issue with my almost 5 yr old it started about 3 though. She’s not violent though except to walls doors and furniture.

Kat 8 months ago

My parenting is an essay question, not a formula to solve. – love this quote. I had my children very young (18), so I was in that stage of life where I thought I knew everything. So I made my own decisions and went with it. Rarely did I worry what was normal – until they and I were older. I trusted my mother to tell me if I was screwing up somehow. Thankfully she understood her role to her ‘child mother’ and gave advice in little helpful ‘drips and drabs’ – easy to swallow. Now as a grandmother, I see where I could have done better, in some cases MUCH better. My husband (not my children’s father) is often amazed at my choices with the Granddaughters but it works for me. As long as I don’t upset my daughter with what I do with her lovely daughters, I am OK. Nana is allowed to bend the rules some, just don’t break the important ones.

Becky 8 months ago

I get frustrated with moms who want to tell me how and what I should be doing with my kids when their children are assholes. Doctor heal thyself. I’ll admit my kid’s shortcomings and what we have tried to do to help. And sometimes, we can’t. It’s heartbreaking.

Lynn Houston 8 months ago

great read. Thank you

Darry Waltz 8 months ago

Perhaps Acceptable would be a better word than Normal…

Lisa Duggan 8 months ago

I’m a grandmother of 3
You are all normal
Your amazing ladies
And being a stay at home mom or a working mom it’s a tuff job.
I went through every fear all of you are going through. I many times felt motherhood fly out the window
Went in the closet and cried
Snapped and yelled
I felt ashamed and miserable and I was an awful mom.
I just finally realized
Kids will be kids
There is nothing that’s perfect in this worldMotherhood is not a hallmark card .
Oh and timeout after awhile didn’t work and counting to 10.
Sometimes my kids finally got it
When I yelled ( ok ranted screamed) they ran to their rooms
Sometimes moms gotta have a melt down.
I threw away the how to be a better parent books spanking verses not spanking
Hold your baby don’t hold your baby too much let them cry.?
And they grew up and they are not anymore damaged then the rest of us. And yes when my babies cried I picked them up and held them
And both were spanked twice
Their whole growing up
So hang in there !
Then they have kids

Mindy Collier Scott 8 months ago

Moving! Truth, mama, truth!

dql091 8 months ago

Oh man, I feel this exact same way! I worry less with our second kid, but I still worry and wonder and don’t know what to say or how to respond most of the time.

I feel so lucky to have a slew of friends that I can say anything to about my kids and they accept whatever it is and don’t judge us. I learn so much from each of these great parents that I seem to be able to get by just by observing what others do when I’m at a loss and use their parenting know-how when it makes sense for our family. I’m a talker and a sharer and that seems to help in getting great tidbits of information or just the comfort that I’m not alone when I think something’s not “normal” and I find out that so many other kids are doing the same thing.

I encourage talking to those close to you, who you know won’t judge and are level-headed enough to give good advice. It’s cathartic. But if no one is around, it’s nice to read articles like this to know you’re not alone.

Jennifer Smith Headlee 8 months ago

Why on earth would you want your kid to be “normal”? I know it’s rough. But in the end you know what is right for you and your family. People are going to judge…fuck them!

ChadandAmy Duggin 8 months ago

THANK YOU FOR THIS!! A much needed read for me!

Casey Ragsdale 8 months ago


Jessica Wegrzynski Barone 8 months ago

Normal…..typical….regular…..all these words we try to force our kids into….how normal, typical, regular are most adults. I guess as parents we expect to always just know what our child(ren) needs. I often wonder what issues my anxiety during pregnancy could cause our son….when he cries uncontrollably or throws a tantrum….always will wonder and worry

Shannon Baumgartner Juarez 8 months ago

I think when you have more than one child, it seems harder to figure out what is normal, since you’re constantly comparing your kids, and their behaviors, even though you don’t mean to. “My first baby never did that, why is my second? Is that normal? Should I be worried?” And when you only have one child, it can be difficult also, since everything is new and may be worrisome. It really is a struggle, and all you can do is ask people you trust to give you a good answer.

Lauren Martin 8 months ago

Thank you

Bonnie Irish Minor 8 months ago

This gave me goosebumps. Powerful.

Sarah Mahan 8 months ago

I could relate to just about every “is it normal” question in this article. Except the penises. I have all girls. :)

Sarah Fritz-Maldonado 8 months ago

” what if it really isn’t normal? What does that mean, exactly? Can I fix it? Because when all is said and done, what I really want to say when I plead, “Tell me this is normal,” is, “. I currently struggle with this exact emotion as I wonder is it normal he looks at everything except me at 8 wks old.. Never focusing for more than a few seconds…. Or that he’s short… Sigh… Hoping for normalcy

Amanda Swarts 8 months ago

Yes it was!

Angela Roster 8 months ago

“…more like reading a book than solving a math problem.” Yeah, and losing your place over and over, reading the same sentence without understanding it, and forgetting what you just read a few lines up. :)

Jennifer Lynn Swenson 8 months ago

I am slowly learning that normal doesn’t exist when it comes to kids. I know all kids are different. When my newborn son seemed fussy all the time I just assumed I got the luck of the draw: a fussy baby . I figured we’d muddle through and he’d outgrow it. It wasn’t until he screamed and cried for 6 hours straight that I realized something was not right. He was 3 weeks old. We called for an appointment with his pediatrician. My son, like many other newborns, struggles with acid reflux. Having an answer to why he was so fussy felt good. This I can work with. We spent another 3 weeks working with the doctor to help get his acid reflux under control. He still has fussy spells but they are shorter and less frequent. I wish someone had told me that it is not “normal” for babies to fuss that much before his 6 hour screamfest.

Lauren M. Teeple 8 months ago

Great post! I can relate to it so much. Thank you!

Akasha Pearson 8 months ago

Thanks for this! Know your not alone!!! I ask “is this normal?” Or even state “this can’t be normal!” But for us? I know it is but it can be hard to talk about

Diane Walter 8 months ago

I needed this. Thank you.

Wendy Purcell 8 months ago

Thank you!! Wish we as parents could just open up with each other and know we all feel this way sometimes

Life With Teens and Other Wild Things 8 months ago

Oh Mama (((big squish hugs)))

We all go through that. The “is this normal” stuff.
As to the “violent” toddler- Been there, done that. And my son was kicked out of school in the 5th grade. The school wanted to medicate him. I refused, because I knew what we were seeing was NOT ADD.

Turns out it was anxiety and depression. And ADD meds make it worse. Go figure.

Worse… I learned about secondary PTSD. And I can’t type that without crying, because it’s confirmation that my kids are screwed up because of me.

One thing I’ve finally come to some level of peace with is… We ALL screw up our kids on some level. My parents screwed me up, I’ll screw mine up… It happens. But without adversity, our kids can’t grow and mature. Sometimes we unintentionally provide them with opportunities to grow.

If your toddler is lashing out and having those uber-defiant moments, I’d recommend a couple of excellent books- “You Can’t Make Me! (But, I Can Be Persuaded)”, by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias, and Boundaries with Kids by Drs Cloud and Townsend. They’re both sensitively written and give some solid common-sense insight into the thought processes of the “strong-willed” child.

Cynthia’s book helped me understand my kids’ thinking, and Boundaries helped me not turn every single thing into a battle.

Good luck, Mama. We’re all doing the very best we can.

Kathy Murphy 8 months ago

I think it’s so sad that moms don’t feel comfortable asking questions about all the absurdities of parenting because of fear of being judged, even among friends. We should all know that if it hasn’t happened to us yet it probably will at some point, and be more open to helping and supporting each other.

Kelly Whorley 8 months ago

This was a great post!

Jennifer F Turner 8 months ago

Aw….hugs to anyone who can identify with this, which I’d bet is probably 99.9% of Mommies and Daddies. I have tried to learn not to be afraid to ask other parents for advice. I’ve also learned that, no matter what you’re going through, one of your Mom friends has too. Non judgment should be the new normal

Tanya Turner 8 months ago

Great post!!! I can relate to so much of what was said. I try to keep in my mind every day that everyone is so different and unique including our children.

Vera McCarty 8 months ago

normal is just a dryer setting, nothing more.

Erin 8 months ago

OH man. We definitely had this problem with our first. Actually, we still have this problem as he is the oldest. Thankfully, the more I talk to other Moms, the more normal everything sounds. Its true though, the minute someone says that something is NOT normal, the alarms will always sound off. Great entry.

Robyn Bourgoin 8 months ago

I’ve worked with young children for more than half my life….yes it is all normal. Even if not every child does it :)

Wendy Skinner Allred 8 months ago

Loved this!! I feel so “normal” thinking the same crazy thoughts.

Adrianne Ward Burney 8 months ago

Thanks for making me feel less weird! 😉

Vicki Griffin 8 months ago

Great read

Susie Meadows 8 months ago

What the author describes is as normal as it gets. Was it Erma Bombeck who said “normal is just a setting on the dryer”?

Christi Monson 8 months ago

There is no such thing as “normal.” Dont worry about being “normal” or “average” and only those things that are “concerning.” Is the behavior dangerous or harmful to the child or others? If yes, then talk to your pediatrician about it. If no, then don’t worry about it. Even if something your child does is unique, it may not be bad. It may just be an outlet for whatever genius they are blessed with.

Jessica Geiger 8 months ago

Thank you for making me feel “normal”. Great read.

Kim Anderson 8 months ago

THIS is normal. Well, at least more stuff like this should be. Thank you for this!!

Lauralei Schmidling 8 months ago

Every day!

Crystal Kelley 8 months ago

It’s like you’re in my head!!

Theregoesagain 8 months ago

Organic food… the biggest lie to make any mom feel bad. Organic food has just as much pesticides as non organic and in fact, it may even have more dangerous pesticides. Also, because the pesticides used are also “organic” (meaning from natural things around) there is no limit as to how much pesticide they use.
Stop being so brainwashed by the hype. BPA free plastic are one thing, overall because there is data backing it up and because it is true that lead in toys in the past has caused serious issues to some kids.

Lena 11 months ago

Forget about “normal”. Do your best and be confident that you’ve done your best. What is most important is that your kids know you love them and you are there to help them. I make plenty of mistakes but I’m really good at loving my kids and my kids forgive me and love me back.

Katie 1 year ago

I think it,s normal to be abnormal. Abnormal is the norm!:)

Hbombmom 1 year ago

“No matter what I do with my children, I feel judged somehow by someone”
Oh yeah, this was totally me for at least the first three years up here in the good ‘ol Pacific Northwest (think Portlandia in a smaller town behind the redwood curtain). I too had a 3 year old with a temper and a bite (thankfully never got to the point of having to hold him down for fear of hurting me further, but…). It wasn’t until I began taking child development classes for my ECE degree when he was 3(ish) almost 4, that I (just a little) stopped worrying about “breaking” him or whether or not he, or I, are “normal”. He’s 6 now, mellow, sweet, and we love each other to pieces but those first 3 years were so intense that I , much to the chagrin of my husband and boy, may never have a 2nd child.

Ursidaeia 1 year ago

i agree about not knowing how to ask for help and that everyone is somehow looking down on your child for their flaws. My son had to have speech therapy as a young child, but wasn’t really looked down on for it. However, I waited a long to time to take him to counseling over his stealing and hoarding because I was afraid that 1, I wasn’t a good mommy for raising a thief, 2, that I had somehow caused this by not leaving his dad soon enough or leaving him at all, and 3, that he would be taken away from me because I clearly could not handle a child with his “problems”. I finally did take him, and since I have taken him to see a counselor, I haven’t had these fears anymore. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and do what you have to do.

Courtney 1 year ago

“Normal is an illusion. What is normal to a spider is chaos to a fly” ~ Morticia Addams

AppleBarron 2 years ago

I’ve read 3 of your posts and feel like you must be my long lost twin living a parallel life. Your honesty is not only refreshing, but validating. PLEASE keep posting. It’s nice to read these posts and not feel alone, abnormal, weird, etc.

Amy McElroy Long 2 years ago

Allison, I never follow anyone's blogs, but I am worried that I might sit here and let my house fall apart reading and enjoying all day. :). I too have four children ages 10, 9, 6, and 3. And they are all abnormal. But I have finally realized this is what makes them so unique and special. My husband and I are certainly not normal so there was little chance of us having normal kiddos. Hehe. Life would be boring if they were perfect. :)

average girl 2 years ago

WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for amateur female nudes

M.S. 2 years ago

The term “Notmal” is a relative term, one which I personally hate, especially when pinning it to
a child. Much less any one else. No one on the planet is 100% normal! Everyone has there own
Unique set of issues, every person is an individual. I despise and lothe and hate labels !
Why do we do this to one another? I will never understand. We should be a community of support for one another, not a supreem court!
We should not judge other parents, for we have not walked a mile in there shoes! There children are different than your children, each child has there own mind and there own needs.
I find that I am harshly judged because I am a single parent, and I sooo hate this! I am as good of a mother as any 2 parent home, in fact I think I am an even more amazing mom because I am a mom and a dad to my child, and yes I have struggles, my child is not perfict, but my child is a good, sweet, kind, loveing, child.
Stubborn, at times, defiant, at times, strong willed, independent, well rounded, “normal”
Kid, not to say there’s no problems but so far I am raising an amazing kid, just fine on my own and I am totally alone in it, so yeah I get frustrated sometimes, but I am doing the best that I can. There is no “normal” only love.
At the end of the day my child knows they are
loved. My child tells me often that ” I am the best mom” and that is good enough for me.

Charity 2 years ago

Thank you for this post. It is so important that we speak about it, it’s a problem when society wants to put us all in a one size fits all “normal category. I recently wrote a post about my normal a mom of seven one with special needs.

Melanie 2 years ago

I’m about to have my first child and this post is just what I needed. Thank you.

Colleen 2 years ago

I can relate as I have been having all of the same thoughts for over 27 years now. What did I do wrong? Why is this happening? I have 3 adult children and a 15 year old. My two adult boys have raided doubts in my minds all the time – from my oldest constantly screaming for the first 18 mos of life (actually got to the point that the ped used to take him in thru the back door prior to office hours because he was too upsetting to parents, children, and staff when he was in the waiting room). I now am questioning what did I do wrong parenting that my beautiful 22yo daughter about to graduate with a degree in neuropsychology and a certificate for working with the developmentally disabled children and is 7 mos. pregnant. all babies are a blessing and I am just sad that she has this huge responsibility now when she is just about to enter into the beginning of her adult life. Were we too strict, should I have forgone the skim coffee coolatas after my OB appts when I was pregnant? Was it the glasses of wine I had on my birthday before I knew I was pregnant? There will never be a definitive answer for mommies just to accept and love your child for the life that is the “normal” for them! We as mothers are much too hard on ourselves and only want our children to live a life of the best possible quality and it hurts our hearts when there is a deviation from the societal definition of normal.

Angela 2 years ago

What an amazing post. Personally, I’ve said goodbye to ‘normal’ a long time ago (not that I don’t look back sometimes). But we really are ‘halfpastnormal’ on my blog.

Stephie C. 2 years ago

“Be yourself & UNlike ANY other” if nothing else I teach my 2 boys, I hope in this I succeed! I want them to be them, not like everyone else :-)

Jessica Smock 2 years ago

Thank you so much for writing about this! My husband says that I’m fixated on the word “normal.” There’s so much discussion about how others judge us, but at least for me, this is one instance where all the judging is coming from inside, comparing myself and my parenting to others’. Just last night, my nearly two year old woke up several times. He has fluid in his ears (from repeated ear infections), and we haven’t slept through a whole night in several months. In the wee hours of last night, I kept thinking, “This can’t be normal! This can’t be normal!” My son has always been a difficult sleeper, and I worry constantly that he won’t develop “normal” sleep habits. Because he has also always had a difficult temperament, I also worry that his defiance, tantrums, and physicality are not “normal.” Thank you so much for putting a voice to all the worries in our heads!

Robyn 2 years ago

What a beautiful and real post about being a parent! I think it is terrible how we can constantly feel judged where we are doing only our very very best!

Cheri Isaacs 2 years ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing your deepest fears and insecurities to light, here; somehow, in sharing your worries, you’ve lightened the load for so many of us fellow parents. We are like you: we’ve worried, we’ve wondered, we haven’t known how to reach out and find other people who might be really understand what we’re going through….So, really, thank you, thank you so much. You spoke to my heart. I had to share this post on my FB page…I think we, as a culture, really need to stop worrying so much about parenting. Perhaps this is one step in that direction.

Andi 2 years ago

This brought tears to my eyes – you could have been writing about ME! Thanks for sharing, makes me feel a little less alone, and a little more “normal” (whatever that means!!)

Chris 2 years ago

Maybe because I’m an older parent, maybe because I had no mother, but probably because I was never a “cool kid” and never expected to “fit in” anywhere, much less in mommy land, but I just don’t really care what other mothers think of my choices. Sure, I cloth diaper (because I’m cheap), and I’m crazy scared of toxins, bpa, and sugar (because I’m crazy scared of autism), and I question every decision I make. BUT, I just don’t get a) why mothers feel the need to judge each other or b) why mothers care if they’re being judged. We all love our kids and do the best we can – but no one person’s ideal can work for everyone so let’s just get the heck over it and move on.

Beca Q 2 years ago

Awesome post! Powerful words that I think every mother thinks daily! Thanks for sharing!

Samantha 2 years ago

Absolutely – we mothers (parents in general, but we’re talking about moms here) have ENOUGH problems, stresses, struggles, etc., and we all, as mothers, know that we do. So why would any mother want to add to that for another, especially by judging them as parents?

Although my personal favorite is being judged by people who are NOT parents…that’s always a good time.

Samantha 2 years ago

I agree – I think the universal normal we’re all looking for is usually “what do other people think is normal?” Whether we realize it or not, and whether we want to or not.

Anne 2 years ago

My beautiful, perfect, smart little girl has a seizure disorder and I haven’t told anyone who doesn’t absolutely need to know like those with whom I leave her with. I am deathly afraid that people will stop seeing her for who she is. That they will judge both myself as well as her and she will no longer fit into the tiny box that people view as “normal”. That they will treat her with a different attitude, shy away from playing with her in the rough and tumble style she loves so much or talking to her in the grown up way she understands best.

Allison Slater Tate 2 years ago

Thanks for all the comments and support, everyone, and to Jill for having me today! I do agree there is no “normal” when it comes to children — which is a little scary, but also awesome.

Leighann 2 years ago

I so needed this today! Parenting is so hard. It’s a guessing game and with the pressures of social media and tv added on its even worse. I can relate to this post so much.

Sara 2 years ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Honesty is a beautiful, courageous thing and you have given everyone a beautiful gift with this post! My daughter now 2.5 has struggled her whole life starting with torticollis at birth then various therapies (pt, ot, speech) that she continues today. Every time she has an assessment I pray to hear she is finally within “normal” limits and when I don’t my heart re-breaks. I am constantly challenged by her and right now my biggest fear is for her to start school in “the system”. She even wore a helmet for a few months around her first bday. Talk about people knowing your kid isn’t normal! It is so hard to not constantly worry about being judged and it is really hard to confide when you hold shame. You have obviously touched me in a profound way with your post and I am glad there are other moms who also understand how hard parenting is today.

Tammy 2 years ago

Normal is a setting on the dryer.

Beth 2 years ago

It’s completely developmentally appropriate for children to reverse letters and numbers until age 9 or so. Everyone flips out about that one.

Nina 2 years ago

One of the best posts you’ve written Allison–and they are ALL so good so that’s saying a lot.

Melissa 2 years ago

I’m only a mom of 1 child. DS is 3. But I have come to learn that “normal” is whatever your child does on a consistant basis. Because everyone in this world is SO different, there is no true “normal”. Once I accepted that, I found a sense of peace with the “normal” things my son was doing.

My sister has a daughter now who is 5mths. She is SO differnt than my son was as a baby. She keeps asking me if what her daughter is doing is “normal” and I simply ask her if she does it all the time. If she says yes, than I say “Yes, it’s normal for HER”.

I think this world would be very boring if we were all “normal” 😉

Tracy 2 years ago

Love this, Allison!!! Thank you for sharing your heart again!!! 😉

Christina 2 years ago

More than anything, we want our kids to grow and flourish as human beings. The question is what do they need to do that?

When we ask if our kids are normal, I think we are just asking if they are getting what they need. It can be a difficult question to answer, but the answer is with the kid, not in a book or by comparing to other kids.

Laura 2 years ago

I’m an older mom here — my kids are now grown up — but I am here to tell you that NO child is “normal.” Every child is different from every other child. My first child, a daughter, was diagnosed as somehow abnormal at 9 months, started wearing a back brace for a congenitally deformed spine at 18 months, fell off the growth charts permanently at age 5, and had 2/3 of her spine fused a month before her 9th birthday. For you, that’s not “normal.” But for us, it was. In fact, I was so set in the idea that what we were going through was just our personal variation of “normal” that it wasn’t until my daughter was 12 years old that someone actually pointed out to me that my daughter had a disability — it had never even occurred to me before that point!

Maybe that makes me ignorant or thick, but I like to think that by accepting whatever came along, it let my daughter grow up not feeling sorry for herself, feeling “less than,” or, worse yet, fawned over (as happens all too often with adorable 4’2″ 16-year-olds). Today she’s self-confident, self-assured, and won’t hesitate to bite the hand of anybody who pats her on the head. :)

Don’t worry about whether your child fits someone else’s definition of normal! Every child is perfect exactly the way they are, whether or not they match what other children are doing! You’ll save yourself a lot of stress, and your child will grow up secure in the knowledge that they’re exactly the way they’re supposed to be. Even if it’s a bit tough sometimes!

anna 2 years ago

I have four kids with a 10 year age gap right in the middle. So I had two girls hitting puberty while my son and daughter were toddlers, by the time my youngest were school age I pretty much didn’t care what other parents thought. I’d become a Veteran Mom, literally in every sense and know that there is no such animal as normal when it comes to kids. I’ve witnessed catfights among soccer moms over the dumbest things because they are so busy judging each other. One mom is over protective with her son because he has numerous allergies, another mom criticizes her because “she’s bred him soOo “strong”, then in the next breath brag about the fact that her son was just diagnosed with ADHD and has meltdowns every five minutes, meanwhile I’m rolling my eyes because I’ve known both those kids since they were in kindergarten and they’re both nice kids, but their mothers – not so much. I’m given a wide berth by the other parents (yay) because I have grown kids with kids of their own, with two more heading into high school and am closing in on 50, served in the Marine Corps, my husband is a retired Marine and we’ve both been around the world and are just not impressed by the “manufactured drama” these people create about their kids. I’ve spent alot of time in ICU’s with one of my kids, who has a lifelong health problem, and 3 healthy kids of her own, I know real medical drama. Just let them be kids, chances are high that they will thrive and survive their parents ideas of child raising and become functioning adults. That’s all we should really want for our kids anyway.

Karen 2 years ago

I’ve also written about this recently because I was struggling with a sense of low parenting self-esteem. I think in hindsight though, if we really look back at what we’ve gone through, we see that yes, we are normal, our kids are normal. Normal is broader than we think. It’s just when we’re going through something that we feel so different and alone. Really great post.

Angie 2 years ago

I was never really stressed out during my pregnancy but afterwards..OMG! Everyone has an opinion and I, new to this whole mommy business, felt so discouraged and am filled with so much self doubt now that it impacts my ability to make decisions and trust my gut feelings. I got chewed out by a young hospital nurse because I didn’t want to supplement with formula and baby’s urine turned pinkish due to dehydration because my milk just wasn’t coming, I was told by a lactation nurse that its normal to feel excruciating pain and have blood end up in the milk when your breastfeeding. I’ve had nurses call us at home after our lactation visit to tell us to bring our newborn to the E.R. at the children’s hospital because she looks very pale and malnourished. This baby was perfectly healthy according to all the “male doctors” we saw. So is it maybe just women in general that panic and over analyse what “normal” should be? This toddler is now 20 months, refuses to let go of the bottle, will not drink from a sippy cup, will only eat meat, no fruits, no vegetables and no sweets. All my girlfriends are worried about it not being normal but yet this kid is not loosing weight and my “family doctor” tells me its perfectly normal to be resistant at her age to change and food. Both my grandmothers (French Canadians) had 12+ childrens and I doubt they lived with as much stress as I am with the one. There is just way too much information out there that tries to cookie-cut people into only two categories (normal: not normal)- if you don’t fit in the first your in the second category and that stresses people out cuz who wants to be in the second category anyway?

undertherainbow 2 years ago

I have often told many people that there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to families. My catholic friend confessed that her unwed teen daughter was pregnant and she was so embarrassed. I told her that it happens and that there is nothing to be embarrassed by. She said, “It’s not normal!” I assured her, just as all of us need assurance, that what our minds sometimes blow out of proportion, are in fact “normal”. (I am not advocating teen pregnancy. With lots of love and support, they made it through an open adoption.)

In the beginning age of television, shows were designed to make you yearn for what was shown on air. There were perfect lives and homes of the “normal” families. If your life was not perfect or “normal”, perhaps you needed a new washing machine or to use this brand of laundry detergent to get your clothes sparkling clean. If someone tells you that they come from a “normal” family, they are either unobservant or flat out lying!

Each of us has been programmed to strive to be “normal”. We want our children and our grandchildren to be “normal”. Each generation has perpetuated it. Most people on this site are “normal”. In this age of technology, driven by consumption, we spend less time socially, face to face with people, and therefore are left wondering am I “normal”? We do not have the interactions and observations to affirm the idea of normalcy.

Each individual has strengths and weaknesses. Each parent has strengths and weaknesses. Each child has strengths and weaknesses. We are all basically the same, but what a bland world it would be if we were all exactly the same. A rainbow wouldn’t be as beautiful without all of it’s colors. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What is your favorite song? Do you know all of the lyrics? Can you identify with them? Do you feel that the song was written for you? It comes back down to that we are in many ways the same. In many ways we are different. That is why each of us has a different favorite song, a different favorite artist, a different favorite genre, etc.

Many of us have similar experiences in life. We experience many of the same emotions under similar experiences. You are “normal”. I am “normal”. We all may do it in our own ways. It is about using our strengths and our weaknesses to the best of our abilities and encouraging and fostering each person we come in contact with in our lives, including our children, to do the same.

A long, long time ago, if you were not “normal” you were institutionalized. We live in an age where we have become more accepting of differences. There are less stigmas to mental and physical disabilities, but deep, deep down, there are still stigmas and prejudices. It used to be called the “Keeping up with the Jones’ (clothes, phones, cars, granite counter tops, etc.). Now it’s the, “Not me/I’m on the Bandwagon/I’m Normal”. Like the “sippy cup” or breastfeeding issues. All the while there still exists things that hurt children like: Calling red heads “gingers”. Suspending a child for making a gun shape with a toaster pastry. Squashing creativity and individualism. Creating and sweeping depression under the rug.

In the meantime, you are constantly bombarded to keep the pace with what is the latest bandwagon. There are reasons and sometimes bucks behind every bandwagon. Just like all of those songs that were picked for you! (That’s right! Most people reading this are the biggest demographic for music sales! You don’t get to pick what is played even if you think you do.) You are also the major demographic for most things. Do your kids or a man in your life really care what toilet paper you use or anything else? Buy the brand that makes you feel “normal”.

I read the above responses and I have personal as well as professional experience with many of these situations. I have been the mom who had to straddle a raging child on the floor when they were physically thrashing out. I have been the Scout leader that took all of the kids that no one else would deal with. I am the medical provider that didn’t have to keep the patient tied down the entire shift, when all said it was impossible. I am the woman who had to give gift ideas to the Psychologist, with a double doctrine, because he didn’t know what to get his own child for a birthday gift.

I am also a mom who worried and still sometimes does. I know there are things that I could have done differently, but if I had the chance to do them again, I would do them the same. So as you are sitting here wondering if you are doing this right or that wrong, I will tell you when I knew for sure that I had raised my kids the way that I could best.

My youngest had his first job and I was shuttling him to it. We were running a few minutes late. When we pulled in he ran to the door. There was an elderly couple. As they shuffled with a walker and a turtles pace, my son patiently held the door open with a smile, knowing that he would now be late. I sat in the vehicle crying and thought to myself, “You did good!”

My son was quickly promoted to a supervisor and then to an assistant manager within months of starting his first job. I was very proud of that, but nothing compared to the day with the elderly couple and door. What may surprise you even more, is that my son, is far from what people or he himself would describe as “normal”.

He does however have strengths and weaknesses. I remind him of his similarities to others all of the time to help him feel “normal”. I also remind him of the strengths that he has, to be grateful for them and to utilize them. I remind him that the prize isn’t the pot of gold or normalcy, it is all of those strengths and all of the beautiful colors in the rainbow.

neal 2 years ago

This was a great post. There are a lot of things to read on the internet, and I find that I’m most moved by, and keep coming back to, the people who can authentically and thoughtfully communicate that we’re all a little broken, that we all need compassion, that we’re all taking a leap of faith with this parenting thing.

At the same time that a desire for normalcy is “normal,” it’s also deceiving; it’s a coping mechanism to suggest that difference is bad. Which it’s not. Different is just different, and you rejoice when you can in that difference; because, ultimately, appreciating beauty is about appreciating the way one thing is different from another, about appreciating a unique element amongst all the sameness. And you reach out for help when the difference is too much. Sometimes difference is hard. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking. But you do your best; you balance precariously between newness and consistency; you try to be a little better than the day before. You hold loved ones close so that you can support each other for ever, in mutual difference. And that’s the most that can be asked of you.

Amber 2 years ago

This is one of my favorite posts, ever. This is so me…and I don’t have anyone around to ask. I have one of those three-year-olds, and all I can think is, “what am I doing wrong?” But maybe I’m not. Who knows.

Anyway, thank you for putting this out there.

Amanda Martin 2 years ago

What a moving and bravely honest post. I think there is no normal, every child is different and it has little to do with parenting. You only have to look at siblings to understand that! Mine couldn’t be more different. I think parenting would be a lot easier if we were all as honest as you have been and shared more with each other instead of pretending everything is fine and perfect.
Like you I envy my mother’s time as a parent: the only person judging her was her mother-in-law (which, to be fair, was pretty awful) but she didn’t have Google and Parenting books, Supernanny and Baby Groups, Health Care Visitors, Lactation consultants and Facebook (sharing oh-so-helpful posts on what it means to be a perfect parent).
I think the bit that upset me the most about your post (on your behalf) was your lactation consultant. My Health Visitor did the same to me, telling me I was giving my daughter an eating disorder by distracting her with a book while I spoon-fed her. A new mother doesn’t need to hear things like that from someone who is meant to be on her side. I’ve heard other horror stories of flippant things said to new parents at completely the wrong time. Parenting is hard enough without all the pressure to be perfect. I think every new parent should be sent here to ScaryMommy instead! :)

Ami 2 years ago

Wonderful. You’re singing my song and just knowing that many of us feel this way helps so much. :-) Thank you for being strong enough to put it in a blog post. :-)

Ashlee 2 years ago

Wow… That last line had me in tears. No one told me that feeling guilt starts almost immediately upon becoming a parent. I am a new mom to a sweet 4 month old boy and I find that I have trouble knowing who I can talk to.

I find myself overwhelmed with concern about what is normal sometimes and I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one.

Debbie 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing, but after raising 3 kids by myself, the word normal should not be used when it comes to kids. There is not 1 size fits all.
Ever little one is there own person. The key is not to worry about what anyone else thinks, says, you are the mother, you live with that child 24/7 and know them better than anyone else.

I learned to go with the flow, marveled at the differences of each one of them and loved them for who they were or were not.
As a mother we have to let go, give them lots of love and not give a damn what anyone else thinks. Any advice you get, take it for what it is. if you can use it do if not let go of it.
They all come out fine in the end.

Amy M 2 years ago

That’s brilliant! And so true. Kids understand so much more than we give them credit for I think :)

Mama D 2 years ago

My mother once told me that good parenting is making the best decisions you can for your children and then praying a lot. I would add that worrying too much about what other people consider “normal” and not listening to your gut are two of the worst things you can do. One of my kids has a severe language disability and possibly others as well. My pediatrician told me that he was normal as a young child, but he wasn’t and I am SO glad I trusted my own feelings. “Normal” is a relative concept anyway!

Kimberly 2 years ago

Yes this has been my sanity. I used to think I was the only one…now I feel “normal” LOL :)

Kimberly 2 years ago

This is beautiful. Thank you…:-)

katherine suszczewicz 2 years ago

ah geez. and I have been inserted into the world of parenting a child with multiple disabilities. defining normal is now a sport.

Rebekah 2 years ago

I like this so much. Especially the part about feeling alone and having to pick and choose who you can actually go to for support. Motherhood has really emphasized my support network. I have seen strength where I didn’t expect it and holes in my old safety nets. One thing is for sure, after every single mountain I climb as a mother I love the people around me that are there to celebrate! And the ones who aren’t I have learned to gracefully include them when necessary.

Momchalant 2 years ago

Love this post! The world normal shouldn’t even be used when referencing children, but each child learns, develops, and grows differently. I was so worried when my son turned 11 months and wasn’t crawling or even trying to. All of my friends said I should let my doctor know because it’s not “normal.” Well, my son is a beautiful, smart little being and he learns in different ways. He does something similar to the army crawl, but only uses his arms. He gets around even though he doesn’t crawl. He looks goofy but if you really watch him, he’s a lot smarter than most kids his age (in my opinion). I have watched him pull the carpet to get a ball to roll to him, and to comprehend that at such a young age is incredible. Every child is different but that’s because we’re all individuals and should embrace our individuality.

Carly 2 years ago

Thank you for this. My 2nd child is 20 months old and is in early intervention for gross motor, language and adaptive issues. I spend more moments of the day worrying about him than anything else. And feeling guilt for all that I’m sure I’m doing wrong! I also have the birth story “what if” and I know I spend way too much time thinking that all of this stems from that one moment. And all too often, when I try to speak to someone honestly about my worries or my fears, I get the brush-off: “oh, I’m sure he’s just fine and everything is normal.” Um, thanks? And thanks for completely disregarding me, my concerns, and my need to air those concerns. Why does everyone get so prickly and so insistent about “normal”?

Soni 2 years ago

Scary Mommy is an excellent blog where people are brutally honest about their children, in a good way.

Soni 2 years ago

Oh this spoke to me so loudly!! I, too, have a son who loses his freakin’ mind if he begins to lose a game and has a meltdown if he actually does lose, at least most of the time. And he is 13. I keep hoping he will outgrow it, but no such luck. This same son also is as stubborn as the day is long and if he decides he doesn’t want to do something, no amount of threatening, bribing, cajoling, etc. will change his mind. A “friend” of mine whose same-age son is perfect in her eyes says that my son has “anger management” issues. If she were to ask me, I would say that her son has “selfishness” issues. So you see, her “normal” is different from mine.
I wish you had a blog that I could follow – sounds like we could learn a lot from one another. Thanks for your honesty.

Soupermom 2 years ago

This was a beautiful entry. I had anxiety just reading it, thanking goodness that I don’t have to live through that phase ever again. Normal is reflective upon your own standards – no one else’s.

Lucinda Kendall 2 years ago

That is the most insightful post I have ever read on parenting. I feel so validated by what the author shared. Thank you for speaking for me.

Lourdes 2 years ago

Alison, this was a great post. If we only realized, when we are in the throes of indecision, that there are others out there facing the same issues, half the battle would be won. I have raised 4 children (now 17 – 32) and my parenting style was laid back. I kinda loved being a mom right from the start (its still my favorite thing) and did not have much problem acclimating. But i did not stress over stuff, I recognized my flaws and realized that my kids would have personalities/flaws of their own. I provided as stable and secure a childhood for them as I was able and loved them more than words can say. I believe that was enough. You do the best you can – that is all you can do… although a trusted friend of confidant does go a long long way. My 3rd grandchild is on the way and I am thrilled at how wonderful my daughters have taken to motherhood. They are awesome at it….and being a grandma is the best! thanks for your insight.

Amy 2 years ago

This is an excellent, timely post. I too wonder who to talk to about all this. Has anyone found a place (online or in person) where it’s easier to talk through these kinds of questions? Or are we all doomed to suffer in silence (as many of us have for years)?

Mom22Tweens 2 years ago

I too could relate to so much of this. The bottom line is not what is normal or abnormal, but how can the child’s needs be met. When a child’s behavior is problematic, the family needs help — not judgment.

I once unfriended someone who sent around a meme with a little boy being whipped until he screamed,and the caption said, “If we had more of this, we’d have fewer criminals.”

Joi 2 years ago

THIS is perhaps the most powerful and empowering “mom” article I have ever read. Thank you. Thank you, so so so much. I needed this.

LaurDoone 2 years ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you. This brought me to tears in the “thank god someone said what I have been thinking” way. My toddler is hitting the crap out of me in fits of rage and I’m about to have #2 and am hoping I don’t screw them both up. There is no normal, there is just us doing the very best we can with what we have.

Trish Dolan 2 years ago

I wish you lived down the street from me! Mother of 4 with some similar quirks you are experiencing. I feel alone sometimes too :/

On the bright side…if we were all the same and there was only “one normal” – we wouldn’t have all the great personalities and characters our children are growing to become!

Amanda 2 years ago

My parents keep telling me that raising kids is like taking a class where you don’t get your grade until they’re 30…so they’re just now finding out that they did a good job. Sounds like if we’re worrying about it that much, we must be doing something right!

tracy@sellabitmum 2 years ago

My 10 year old said to me the other day “Mom, do you know what I love best about the world – that there’s not a normal person in it.”

Uh. Wow.

CC 2 years ago

I’ve learned that what is normal for my children is often different from the normal of others.

Nicole 2 years ago

: ) I think it’s normal to worry.

Deb 2 years ago

Wonderful, beautifully written post that really gets to the heart of what it means to be a parent today. Like you said, the self-conscious, self-referential insanity is news to our mothers’ generation. I appreciate your honesty.

Suzanne 2 years ago

Yes, yes, yes. I’ve had all those questions and more. People are so complex, so different, it’s hard to know when something is “normal” or something is legitimately wrong. My first son went to speech therapy because he only had a 10 word vocabulary at 2 1/2 years old. Now at 11 years old, he talks up a storm, and no one knows he ever had an issue. My third son is in speech at 4 years old, and I honestly don’t think he needs it (his grandmother pushed for it and is paying for it so we’re going along with it). My 3 year old was a simple baby but is an incredibly mischievous child now. Putting toys in the dog water, climbing the furniture, throwing blocks across the room, is that normal for a 3 year old? Or am I failing as a parent somehow because no punishment I enforce seems to make a difference?

Honestly? I think we’re more educated as parents these days. We’re more afraid of doing the wrong thing, but we’re also more eager to do the right thing, whatever that may be, to produce well-adjusted successful adults.

Jenny 2 years ago

That is how my head thinks to a tee! I feel like I wrote this.

Falon 2 years ago

This post came right at the perfect time for me. I am feeling nothing is normal in my life. My kids. Me. We’re all screwed up!

Jenny Pallen 2 years ago

“Normal”… I hate that word and I hate applying it to children. As Mothers we are all trying to make our way through parenthood the best we can in hopes that we turn out some great “adults”. And what is “normal” for one child may not be “normal” for any other.

I have been very blessed to have a great friend whose children have varying issues (Asperger’s, ADHD, depression, bi-polar, being bullied, etc…). She has always been very open and honest about her and their struggles and yes that has definitely kept mine in perspective. But she has also been a person who says “jen, did you notice…” or “jen, maybe you should take your kid to the Dr now.” Like I said I am blessed.

It makes me sad that Mothers judge each other so harshly. And yes, I have had that too. But, I am a cocky bitch and confront it. You got a problem with my kid bring it to me and we will work it out… don’t talk shit behind my back.

I wish more Mothers would realize that we are all in this together and if we could support and accept one another just a tad bit more it would go a long fucking way.

Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog at The Suburban Jungle 2 years ago

You’re right people don’t like to discuss the abnormals and the fears. I do it a lot on my site, with as much humor as I can infuse because it’s a good way to talk about the abnormal. The best part about talking about what’s off or odd or not right is it ironically makes people feel more sane, as there’s really no such thing as “normal” anyway. Good job.

Elaine A. 2 years ago

That very last statement is the KEY. I think there are so many different “normals” but we just don’t want to mess up our kid so we are constantly looking for some universal normal. But I don’t think it exists. All of my kids have different needs and ways, of course! They are all different people.

Without writing a book, this post made me think of my SIL. Her second child was born (when I was 17, btw) at 26 weeks gestation. Of course he had a slew of issues and spent MONTHS in the NICU. I never thought (until just now, reading your post) about the guilt she may have felt about what she may have thought she did wrong to make him be born so early. Gosh, I really can’t believe that never crossed my mind…

Anyway…. excellent post. And I had a really TOUGH 3-year old too. I was nodding through that entire paragraph. Big Momma hug to you on that one!

Arnebya 2 years ago

Alison, I have NO idea what normal is or is supposed to be. Truthfully, I don’t wanna find out because I’m afraid I won’t be it. Most of your questions, big and small, I have asked myself at some point and my answers vary depending on the child, the situation, and the amount of vodka I have imbibed that hour. There are times, though, when I get glimpses of confidence and realize I didn’t question the normalcy of my son watching the stream of urine go through his fingers or of one of my girls inserting the word vagina into conversation about broccoli (or anything, really) while the other mentioned “enjoying” her vagina before she was 11. My guess is normal can change per person, day, time, situation, and placement of the moon.

Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense 2 years ago

If I didn’t have to poop right now (drinking coffee + sitting in front of the computer = POOP!), I would be CRYING. This is ME, ME, ME. And I have a strong feeling that it is EVERYONE, EVERYONE, EVERYONE. One of your best posts, Allison. *Sharing*

Mary 2 years ago

Excellent post! On a side note, regarding the speech therapy. My daughter had four years of speech therapy. She was not a fan and complained often. She is now twelve. We were watching home movies one day. She turned to me and said, “wow, I really did need speech”. That was wonderful to hear!

grownandflown 2 years ago

Some moms make parenting look as natural as breathing. To my eye, It looked like they knew how to mother before they had their first child! I watched them, thinking they must have grown up with lots of brothers and sisters or they babysat or they majored in child psych in college – none of which I did. Over time, I gained confidence over the day-to-day stuff and hope I managed the question you pose of what falls in and out of a normal range.I had the help of a good pediatrician, trusted friend, and loving mother. Now that my youngest is 17 and oldest in college, guess what? I still worry and wonder if I did the best job I could have because, like you, I don’t want to have “screwed up the most important people in the world to me.”

melissa at filling our bucket 2 years ago

Wow. What an incredibly powerful post. What IS normal? How do we even know? What is normal for us may not be normal for someone else and vice versa. I think parenting is just constant worry.