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Have an Abnormally Good Year!
Copyright © 2009 by Richard A. Grossman, Ph.D.  ·  All Rights reserved  ·  E-Mail: ragrossman@voicelessness.com
When I was growing up, my mother, Mitzi, frequently told me I didn’t have to be like everybody else.  I could be different.  I very much appreciated this.  Certainly Mitzi was different.  When I came home from college during breaks, sometimes I found her wearing the old flannel shirts I had long since outgrown.  My mother didn’t wear my shirts to provide comfort in my absence, or (if I brought a girlfriend home) to mark territory, warning any prospective mates that I came as part of a terrifying package deal.  Rather, she wore them because they were hanging in the closet, because they fit her reasonably well, and because they had no designer labels.  Mitzi mistrusted the status quo, and she obstinately and proudly defined herself from the inside, as she believed others should.  She cut her own hair and wore no makeup.  She was an intellectual, an artist, an aesthete—and probably the toughest, least sentimental person I have known.  She hardly fit the norm as a mother, and this shaped me, often for better and sometimes for worse, as a person.

When I think about my daughter, Micaela’s childhood, it is not the summer vacations in Acadia, the singing recitals, the soccer games that stand out—but rather the deviations from normal that often left an indelible mark.  Like the time Micaela had a stomach bug when she was 4.  Laying next to Hildy in our bed she suddenly had an uncontrollable urge to throw up.  She looked all around as if to say “where?”  Since there was no ready place, I cupped my hands together like this and—well you get the picture.  We both remember this moment lovingly and always will, because it was revealing of our relationship in a way our “normal” interactions were not.

Normalcy doesn’t connote goodness, kindness, or benevolence.  From an evolutionary psychology perspective,
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