My Daughter’s Magic
By: Muyoka M
My daughter was three when the fear of mental health and heredity hit me. Every night I prayed that my daughter’s brain would be normal. When my daughter turned five I stopped. My friend Chloe had texted me saying she read an article that caused her to burst into tears. Chloe viewed her quick tears as a fault but I had always viewed them as an endearing quality. They guaranteed I would never cry alone. I reflected deeper on the other unique brains in my life. I thought about my boss Maddy’s immaculate work schedules; impulsively checked lists that make my day run smoother. I thought about visiting one of my customer’s, Chris, who repeats everything twice. I never mess up his orders. I thought about my friend Polly with twenty different projects going on, always something new and interesting. I would never pray for these people to lose their quirks and isms. They just wouldn’t be the same without them.
I remember in high school watching my roommate chat with a guy in the doorway thinking, I would love to be normal just for one week. I remember sitting on a bench my freshman year of college, flush with anxiety, thinking that regardless of where I went I would never figure out how to fully fit in. I remember getting out into the real world and applying for a holiday job at a retailer that needed tons of people and not getting a callback. My fear for my daughter is not how her brain will work, it is how she will be treated for her differences. Will she be loved? accepted? included? The stigma is worse than the diagnosis.
I imagine other moms praying too: a dark-skinned mom praying that her daughter be lighter, a lesbian mom praying for her son to be straight. Is there anything wrong with these precious children or is it the world they inhabit? As the stigma of skin color and homosexuality fade, I don’t see the same happening with different brain structures and chemical brain differences. Recently, the teacher in my dance class for adults emphatically stated at the beginning of class that she embraces everyone, but then proceeded to leave me out when assigning groups. I wonder if she saw me on the way home, if she discovered the chemical makeup of my tears is the same as hers, if she would change her definition of “everyone” to include me.
What happens if my daughter gets teased one day and runs home holding back tears reserved for her mom’s shoulders, but she then recalls her mom praying for her to be normal? Before I convince the world to embrace people with different brains, I am going to start with my own heart and my own home: my daughter’s first environment. This letter is for my daughter. If the day comes, I am ready now:
Hey Baby Girl,
You have a magic brain. When God was painstakingly making you, he added some twists and surprises to make the world more interesting. You would always wear your princess dresses to preschool because you loved them and did not care what the other students thought. I hope that you wear who you are with the same pride. I love you so much, I decided to go first, and be proud of who I am; my magic. Yes, I go to a therapist and take medication, but there is so much more. I define myself as a businesswoman, a leader, and a mom. Should I buy you a large chalkboard for your equations? A canvas for your drawings? A journal for your writings? The same folds that make our brains different also tuck away magic gifts, and I hope you unwrap yours. All the inventors, entrepreneurs and brilliant minds you read about unwrapped theirs.
When you get to high school, the cafeteria will be full of kids who are scared they’re different too. Be on the lookout for magic dust, there are more just like you. When you go on dates, remember that he is as nervous as you are; that you’ll discover his insecurities. What to tell a star, that doesn’t want to stand out? I have always and will always love watching you shine. I pray you receive the best care and supportive friends, but more importantly that you be you and do what you were destined to do. Once you fully love your magic, you won’t need their acceptance, you can dance without it.
I don’t want you to change. You will always be my daughter. You have always been loved.