Parenting is messy. It’s often a blender full of emotions, tasks, and conflicts. That why we so often feel pureed by our family life.
Parenting is mundane. It requires incessant planning, cleaning, cooking, driving, laundry, arguing, more driving, phone calls, filling in forms, more driving, more cleaning, on and on.
But parenting is also a “glorious ordinary.” It is a beautiful mess.
This video illustrates this well.
Do you look for beauty in your messy everyday life? It’s there, but you have to look for it. Slow down, look around, and ponder the mundane elements in your home. Find some everyday wonders.
Look at your dog. Really look at him. He may need a bath, and he causes problems, but what a loyal companion he is, putting up with your inconsistent love.
Look at your messy kitchen. It looks better when clean, but a clean kitchen is not alive. A dirty kitchen exhibits nourishment. It’s the scene of the best aromas of life and some of your greatest meltdowns. The kitchen is the heart of the home, where real drama plays out and real food feeds the weary.
Look at the blankets in the corner that seem homeless and disheveled? Think of the warmth and comfort they have shared with you and yours. They have soaked up spills and emotions as you have watched movies that moved you deeply. Those blankets have comforted souls.
Look at that stack of mail on your desk? Remember how great it felt to have this address for the first time? The mail comes to your home, your spot in the world, where your family plays, reads, eats, bathes, laughs, cries, argues, makes up, and celebrates. It’s the frame of your family life. Your home is your sacred space. So it comes with a few bills and some junk mail.
Look at your child. Consider the extraordinary in the ordinary. So much can go wrong with your child, and yet so much is right. And some of it is very very right.
And be sure to share some of these thoughts with your child. Show your child that are trying to live an extraordinary life, even though it may appear rather ordinary.
William Martin puts it this way:
I have heard of a thing called “framing the moment.” It’s when you are looking at something special, and your brain says, “Wow, I don’t want this to end.” It’s a Kodak moment, but you don’t have a camera. So you study the scene carefully enough to imprint the image in your brain. Then, you tell your brain, “Magnificent! Store this in a safe place, brain. I want to see this again sometime.”
We need to frame moments everyday. It’s a better way to live. And if we can teach our kids to do it, they will grow up with a strong sense of truth and beauty. For the more often we identify things as true and beautiful, the more we become so.
Here are some examples of the sorts of ordinary things that I find worthy of framing in my mind.
My wife is everyday beautiful, and it comes from deep inside her. She is not much for material things, but coffee is a simple pleasure that she loves every day.
Our dog was rescued just days before his scheduled euthanasia. He spent time in the women’s penitentiary during his service dog training. He is an old soul who loves each one of us deeply, which provides our family with much-needed therapy. He rests like this every day.
Our son is witty, silly, and joyful. He made this perfect classic jack o’ lantern, then stabbed it in the temple with a knife and spread its brains out all over the place. He was so proud of himself. That’s my boy. This is his ordinary.
Our daughter, with all her severe disabilities, is able to light up a room with her laughter. She does it every day. Her special needs disable the whole family at times, but her ability to create joy and love in people is astronomical.
This winter was rough, and I am sick of it. But there were so many days when we had beautiful snow. We took a lot of walks in the park with our dog to avoid cabin fever. This was just one of those moments that I did not want to end, even though I was very tired and cold.
My life does not have room for a lot of friends, unfortunately. But every year I get the privilege of spending four days with my best friends from college. We call it a Fandango. I can’t express how meaningful it is. Let’s just say that these friends would do anything for me. Anything. They exemplify brotherhood. I either think of or communicate with one of these guys every day.
Every day, I eat good food because I married a woman who expresses love through food. She can make a gourmet meal from leftovers, but she is not a big fan of the deep fryer. I love me some chicken fried steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, and Texas toast. It may end up being my last meal on earth and/or my first meal in heaven. Simple. Pleasure.
Now, take a look around.
Frame some moments this week, as you work, clean, plan, drive, fix, and clean again.