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Constructing the (M)other

Narratives of Disability, Motherhood, and the Politics of «Normal»


Edited By Priya Lalvani

Constructing the (M)other is a collection of personal narratives about motherhood in the context of a society in which disability holds a stigmatized position. From multiple vantage points, these autoethnographies reveal how ableist beliefs about disability are institutionally upheld and reified. Collectively they seek to call attention to a patriarchal surveillance of mothering, challenge the trope of the good mother, and dismantle the constructed hierarchy of acceptable children. The stories contained in this volume are counter-narratives of resistance—they are the devices through which mothers push back. Rejecting notions of the otherness of their children, in these essays, mothers negotiate their identities and claim access to the category of normative motherhood. Readers are likely to experience dissonance, have their assumptions about disability challenged, and find their parameters of normalcy transformed.

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Epilogue: “Tell Me About When I Was Born”: (Mostly) True Tales About How We Became a Family (Priya Lalvani)



“Tell Me About When I Was Born”

(Mostly) True Tales About How We Became a Family

Priya Lalvani

The past is always up for grabs.

—McAdams & Adler (2010)

“Tell me a story,” my son, Amiel, would say to me each night when he was younger. Some of my favorite memories of his childhood involve our bedtime rituals. I would tuck him in bed after a game (usually one that we had invented out of things that were around), and then we’d tell stories. Sometimes I’d read stories from books, but often we made up our own; there was one about five superhero children who repeatedly saved the world, another about a pair of butterfly siblings who could only eat cake, and a story about two brothers, Amielie and Bedielie—one of whom always made the right choice while his brother, though well-intentioned, kept getting in trouble but always managed to find his way out in the end. One of Amiel’s favorite stories was about the night he was born and the rather strange events that apparently transpired.

It is not unusual that a child should inquire about his birth. Children seem to have a fascination with their birth story, and telling it is enjoyed by many mothers. However, when I attempted to relate to my little boy his birth story, he added to the narrative an unusual twist. This is how it went:

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