What is the definition of normal? Ever since I can remember, I have always been the odd man, or woman, out. My mom had three children - three girls to be exact, and I'm the oldest.
When we were growing up, it was always "Hi, this is Weirdo, Erin and Kelley." My middle sister, Erin, who is very funny and gets along with just about everyone, claims to have the "middle-child syndrome." I don't buy it one bit. My younger sister Kelley, who is the baby of the family, is quiet when you first meet her and then strangely amusing once you get to know her.
Then there is me. When people first meet me, they always have the same reaction: "You're weird." It's not a bad weird, it's just an "odd weird." I'm not doing anything on purpose - I'm just being myself. I've gotten this response ever since I was a little kid. I've gotten so used to it I can call it before it's even said.
Sometimes I think I might (or still have) had attention deficit disorder as a little kid and my friends just got used to me acting so bizarre that it's transferred over into my adulthood like a bad habit.
The other day, I was at my house hanging out with my sister and my two-month-old daughter. I was having a bad day, I was stressed out and to make my situation better, I said something random that caught my sister off guard. I thought it was funny. I usually do though.
Her initial response? "You're so weird." How clever. And even though I don't get overwhelmed when I get called names anymore, I did feel the blood surging in my veins.
"Well, what's normal?" I fired back. She had no response. If you think about it, what is the definition of normal? If you don't fit in the norm of today's society you get called names, and I think that is silly.
I used to think that being weird was a horrid thing when I was a little kid. All little kids do goofy and strange things - they're kids.
I initially knew I was a weirdo when I was 5 years old. My mom was doing her motherly duty and walking me to school. I attended the late 7th Ward Elementary School.
The image still is ever so clear in my mind. There is a Uni-Mart that is right below where the old school stood. It just so happens that my mom and I were adjacent from this particular Uni-Mart when a boy caught my eye.
Now this boy was probably 6 or 7 years old. Mind you, I'm only 5 at the time. I decided to show off my sexy moves by pretending that I was wearing high heeled shoes. I started prancing around on my tippy toes and swinging my hips back and forth.
In my head, I was on a runway. In his mind, I was the weirdest thing he ever laid eyes on. He shot me an "are you serious?" look, started laughing and ran away. From that moment on, people have picked up on my so-called oddities. I like to think they just catch me at the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, that all changed when I had my daughter, Emma. Every mother remembers that moment when they first find out they're pregnant. My initial response to this? Fear.
I was terrified. What would people say?
But inside, was this voice screaming at me and telling me that I was just as normal as anyone else. I was pregnant and having a baby. Normal people have babies and now so was I.
Just the other day I was half asleep, half awake in my bed and I heard Emma cooing in her bassinet. She started off soft and progressively got louder: "Oooh, ahhh, eehhh." It sounded like she was having a conversation in another language.
The bassinet is right against my bed, so I decided to take a peek and see who she was talking to. When I popped my head over to where she could see me, she immediately stopped. In a soft voice I said, "Hello, pretty girl!" She gave the biggest smile ever! I love her smiles.
Everyone in this world is guilty of judging others, including myself, but once you have a child, the judging stops. You become so emotionally attached to that little being and so connected to everything else in the world that nothing else matters. I love, I live and I laugh everyday. If someone calls me a name now, it wouldn't matter. It wouldn't matter because the only person judging me now is Emma. And guess what? She doesn't. She smiles at my silly jokes and laughs when I do "weird" things. She loves me for me.
Tara Maguire is a Sentinel reporter.