“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.” –Mary Jean Irion
Motherhood is made up of a multitude of days. We have good days and bad days, but mostly just “normal” days. Days full of maintenance routines and nap schedules. Days full of cleaning up kid messes and dealing with bedtime battles. Days full of giggles and tears, tickles and tantrums.
Normal days in motherhood can be chaotic, magical, tedious, and delightful, all at the same time. That’s what normal looks like when you’re a parent.
But we can sometimes find ourselves becoming disenchanted with certain parts of those normal days. The chaos can be too much. The tantrums can ride our last nerve. The tediousness can wear on our psyches like water torture. Drip, drip, drip.
Normal doesn’t always feel good. The normal nights of waking up several times to nurse or soothe can be oppressive. The normal mornings with groggy kids scrambling to find their shoes get exasperating. The normal frustrations with homework or kid drama every evening grow tiresome.
How often do we find ourselves wishing away those normal moments? How often do we want to skip ahead to “some rare and perfect tomorrow?”
I catch myself doing that frequently. As I’m cleaning the kitchen for the zillionth time, or nagging my kids to throw away their wrappers for the zillionth time, or getting called by my kid when they’re supposed to be asleep for the zillionth time, I find myself wanting to fast-forward to a time when my family’s needs don’t seem so relentless.
Then, even though it is true that those needs are relentless and it all does get old, I stop and take stock. I take a mental picture of this normal day I’m living in and remember that there may be a time when I’d give anything to be back here.
It’s not a far-fetched notion. I think of the single mom I knew whose only child had an inoperable brain tumor. I think about their days, from the one on which he was diagnosed, to the ones where they had to cut back the tumor as it grew out of his nose, to the one where he passed away at age 12. What she wouldn’t give for a normal day.
I think about our own family’s lives during my mother-in-law’s eight-week losing battle with pancreatic cancer and how not normal our days felt during that time.
I think about my uncle’s suicide and how it rocked my 10-year-old world 32 years ago.
I think of those living in the midst of war or famine or abject poverty, of refugees searching for safety and desperate for even a tiny sense of normalcy.
I think of those dealing with a sudden loss, or an unexpected trauma, or a near miss.
I think about terrible accidents and impossible choices.
And suddenly, even with its tedium and annoyances, I am grateful to be living through a normal day.
It’s not that we can never complain because someone else always has it worse. Playing the comparison game is not productive, and I certainly don’t mean that we should invalidate our experiences or feelings.
But there is a beauty in being mindful of the blessing of a normal day. Even if it’s more sucky than not, even if the daily grind is wearing you down, even if you could really use a break from normal, the fact that you can call a day “normal” is something to be thankful for.
Let us appreciate our normal days for the gift that they are. Let us learn what we can from them and thank them for what they have to offer. Let us try our best not to wish them away, for none of us know what tomorrow may bring.
“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.” Indeed.