Since January 3rd, we haven't had as many ordinary days as I might have liked. Oh, there have been some, and they have been wonderfully simple and uncomplicated, and I'm learning to appreciate them more and more. But the days that have been un-ordinary have swung the pendulum all the way to hard, stressful, exceptionally difficult and taxing.
My new mantra seems to be "little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems". When our kids were small, I quickly learned that a kiss, a bandaid, a distraction, or a new Disney movie in the VCR did a world of good to solve whatever they had going on in their young life. Now that our children are older and are actually young adults, the scenarios they bring to our lives as parents are adult-sized problems, which is totally new territory for us and our children.
Since January 3rd, we have been through some major life events with our offspring - one struggling with a few bouts of depression that can go so deep it's frightening to all of us; one receiving a life-threatening voicemail on their cell phone prompted by a misled ex, and most recently a son caught in extremely hazardous snowy driving conditions on his way back to school. Having him stranded somewhere in mid-Indiana in the middle of the night thousands of miles from home with no ability on our end to be able to get to him was the most helpless (and harrowing) experience I have dealt with yet in my 48 years. It's like having your toddler lost at the mall times ten. Thank goodness for cell phones- I had mine practically clutched to my chest all that evening. Mixed in with this was the phone call with news from outside my immediate family that my sister's lymphoma had recurred; a condition that we hoped was gone for good. A crushing blow, to say the least.
This has been a difficult month; these have been trials that have stretched us and our faith in God to a degree we'd not known before. And through each specific instance, we've hunkered down and rode it out and handled what's come our way, involving all responsible parties and communicating love, care, concern and change where it may be necessary. I have sought God as my refuge, because I knew it was the right thing to do and also because there was simply no other place to go with what I was dealing with. These individual issues were so big that they were way beyond my realm of expertise; my husband and I were handling things we've never had to handle before. These were adult-sized dilemmas, yet they were affecting our children. It all felt out of balance.
I am blogging about our trying month so that I (we) don't forget what happened this January of 2010 - not that I believe any of us will need any reminding, but I'm wise enough now to realize that life goes on and what once seemed like a mountain will look only like an anthill in hindsight in a few months, years, or a decade from now. I fully believe that as a family who has gone through recent rough waters together we are stronger, more bonded, and more in love with each other now due to these shared experiences than we were in the past, even though these times were ones I would have preferred not come our way and take up residence.
I'm reading a book called "The Gift of an Ordinary Day" by Katrina Kenison. In it she talks about how so often we miss the gift of the day that is the ordinary-ness of our children's growing up- a Tuesday summer afternoon having freeze pops in the backyard when they're two, the spring Little League baseball game that messes up our dinnertime, the umpteenth school concert that had you panicked because you couldn't find their best white shirt. While we are going through those days, we think we'll remember them forever, and sometimes we actually can't wait til our children grow out of them so that we can get a little independence back; feel a little more like ourselves. But then we get to where I am now, looking back and longing for a regular, ordinary day where the biggest thing we needed to remember was to put sunblock on the baby and not burn the peas while checking on preschoolers in the backyard playing in the last minutes of sunlight before supper.
That's one meaning of the gift of an ordinary day. But I believe another take on the title is appreciating an ordinary day where your family, the ones you love, whether they're big or small, have 24 hours that hold no unwelcome surprises; a day that goes along pretty much as you had planned, a day that ends with everyone sleeping where you expect them to be - whether it's underneath your roof, in their college dorm, or someplace else they're supposed to be. A day that when you lay your head on your pillow, you know that for right then, things are calm and happy and all is well with the world. That doesn't happen often, my friend, so when it does, recognize it for what it is- the gift of an ordinary day.