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Exceptional Circumstances

nor·mal ˈnôrməl/adjective

  1. conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected."it's quite normal for puppies to bolt their food"synonyms:usual, standard, ordinary, customary, conventional, habitual, accustomed, expected, wonted; More

  2. technical (of a line, ray, or other linear feature) intersecting a given line or surface at right angles.


  1. the usual, average, or typical state or condition."her temperature was above normal"

  2. technical a line at right angles to a given line or surface.

Before Nolan's birth the word normal didn't have much meaning to me, but when you have a child that isn't "normal," you quickly learn how overused that word is.

Within the first 24 hours of Nolan being born, I realized I hated the word normal. Along with words like deformity, abnormal, unusual, issues, bad, etc. They all just sounded so negative. But at this point, I still didn't know what words I liked.

It was no secret that he had a little ear and a skin tag on his cheek, but did that make him not "normal"? At first, I thought it did, but then I got connected with other people that didn't have "normal" children and realized normal is a relative term.

In the Microtia world - hearing aids, small ears, HFM, BAHA, RMA, etc. are all terms that are normal. But if I said them to you that might be part of your normal vocabulary.

In the congenital heart disease world - holes, echo, EKG, VSD, ASD, etc. are again all normal terms. But I bet many of you have never heard of them.

Over the last three months, I have been trying to find words that sounded right and felt good when I used them to describe Nolan's health conditions. Here are some that I began using: microtia, heart defects, little ear. That's it. Anything else still sounded negative to me.

Last week I was having lunch with a friend when she said, "it is amazing to me to see children with these exceptional circumstances." My eyes teared up. It was the first time in 3.5 months I heard someone describe my son as exceptional. I didn't have to tell her he was exceptional, she already knew.

That night I came home and began thinking more about the word normal. Is there even a normal? There might be a typical but there is no other child out there just like Nolan, and there is no other person out there just like me, and guess what? Yup - there is no other person out there just like you.

It was a freeing realization to have. If I were to stop striving to be "normal" how much happier would I be in my life? My family? My marriage? My friendships? My body image? My motivation?

I choose to believe that we all have exceptional circumstances and no two are the same. These are positive words I can get behind.

There is much more to life than normal.

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