5-Minute Friday Time with Lisa-Jo Baker!! And, today, it’s all about the ORDINARY!
(Confession: I wrote for longer than 5 minutes… kinda like in high school when I was assigned a 500 word essay but ended up writing 1,000 or so words instead.)
“Ordinary, no, really don’t think so…” (Kenny Chesney, “Me and You”)
The ultrasound technician pressed the wand over my gel-slicked tummy with one hand while making various notations on the computer with her other hand. The click-clack of the computer’s keys sounded loud in the little room as my husband and I barely breathed, waiting to see our first glimpse of our first child.
And, suddenly, emerging from all the indistinguishable gray blobs, was our baby with a little head and 2 little legs…
“Oh, look! There’s a little hand waving!”
And then the thump-thump-thump of the baby’s heartbeat, reassuring and so sweet… music in perfect harmony with the beat of my own heart.
The technician looked over at us. “And do we want to find out boy or girl today?”
“Hmm…” the technician paused, concentrating on the screen. “It looks like we have a shy one. Let’s see if we can get this baby to move around a little.”
She expertly maneuvered the wand around my stomach. “A-ha! There we go… have a look at your baby girl.”
Our baby girl…
In an instant, my baby dreams turned fairy-princess pink. I was having a daughter.
“There’s daddy’s girl!” my husband exclaimed in awe; with one view, he was already wrapped around her tiny finger. He may have even started humming “Butterfly Kisses.”
The technician smiled, having been witness to so many of these moments, and quickly printed off some grainy black and white pictures for us to take with us. She then wiped the gel off my stomach and helped me sit up.
“You can go back to the exam room now, and the doctor should be in to see you soon. Congratulations, again” she said as she walked out of the room, already on her way to the next room and the next new mommy. The technician did ultrasounds every day, so our very typical sonogram was nothing out of the ordinary for her.
But how very life-changing and overwhelming and miraculous the ordinary can be…
Like the very ordinary moment when the stick turned pink in the doctor’s office after thinking I couldn’t have children or the moment when I told my husband, “We’re having a baby!” And he jumped up from his chair and hugged me so, so tightly, and, together, we cried tears of shared joy over our very own ordinary miracle. Or that moment, after 23 and a half hours of labor, they placed our baby girl in my arms, and I became a mother.
So ordinary, but so… not.
I’ve been her mother for almost 14 years now… or 165 months or 715 weeks or 5,024 days.
And each year, each month, each day has been filled with ordinary little moments…
Playing dress-up in pretty princess costumes, reading bedtime stories, digging up worms, making sandcastles, crying over math homework, planning sleepovers, giggling with her cousins, writing stories and plays, collecting sea turtles, painting her toenails three different colors, waiting so anxiously for “Once Upon a Time” to come back on TV, holding her baby brother, squabbling with her other brother, dancing with her daddy…
And, from her very first wobbly baby steps to her first day of kindergarten when she told me, “Mommy, I think the parents are leaving now” to the day when she threw a shirt across the room and yelled, “You just don’t understand!” each of these very ordinary moments have been taking her further away from me.
That’s what’s supposed to happen, right? From the moment they’re born, they grow away from us a little more each day, and our job is to prepare them for that day when they’re “grown up” and leave home for the last time. Each moment of the journey, we have to learn to let go just a little bit more. Instead of taking the steps with them, we have to start standing back and watching from the sidelines as they take the steps on their own.
Tonight, she is going with her best friend to her first lock-in at church. Except can you call it a lock-in when they’re going all over town from one fun teenage-y place to another?
The night, before she was born, when I went into labor I remember thinking, “But I’m not ready! What if she cries, and I don’t know what’s wrong? What if I drop her? And, oh my goodness, I still don’t know how to make meatloaf! I’m not ready to be somebody’s mother!”
And, this afternoon, while she giggles with her friend as they get ready, I’m once again thinking, “But I’m not ready!”
Since neither my husband nor I can help chaperone this time, she’ll be on her own. What if she loses her cell phone? What if she loses her towel and change of clothes at the pool and has to wear wet clothes for the entire night? What if she gets left at the bowling alley? What if she forgets to use her hand sanitizer before she eats?
And I know tens of thousands of other teenagers have done this same thing, and they’ve all survived and had loads of fun.
It’s quite ordinary really.
But for me, like all the other moments of her almost 14 years, it’s really not all that ordinary.
This fun lock-in is a new moment where I’m having to let go some more. We share a journey, she and I, a very ordinary mother-daughter journey, and, as all the moments of our journey change her from baby to little girl to young lady, I am changed as well… from a mommy to a momma to the mom of a teenager. And, while she is filled with a heady rush of excitement and freedom and can’t wait-ness, I don’t feel ready for this moment (and still don’t know how to make meatloaf).
I’m worried and anxious… like I was the first time she had a fever when she was a baby and we rushed her to the emergency room. To the doctors and nurses, she was just another patient, and we were just 2 typical worried parents. So routine for them, so out of the ordinary for us.
I’m excited and happy for her… like I was when she conquered her fear and rode her first rollercoaster and held her hands up in glee and victory as she zoomed down the big hill. To the ride operators, she was just another young girl. They didn’t know that the previous year she had been in tears she was so scared at even the thought of riding. So routine for them, so out of the ordinary for us.
I realized the other day, that, at almost 14 years old, more than half her life with us is over. There are only so many of these ordinary moments left where she’s just our little girl.
The moment where I discovered her hiding in her bedroom with my makeup smeared all over her and her bed and the floor really does seem like just yesterday. But, today, she and her friend are giving each other makeovers and trying on different outfits in preparation for tonight. One day, I was busy cutting her grapes in half and praying for an early bedtime. Today, I washed her favorite pair of jeans and I’m going to drop her off at church then drive away.
Everyone will tell you “Time flies,” but you don’t really get it until one day you look back and wonder, “Where did it go?” Those quiet ordinary moments go by so quickly that before you know it, you’re in another moment thinking, “Wait a minute. How did we get here? We weren’t ready to move on. I’m not sure I played patty cake enough. I didn’t know that was the last time she was going to dance to the ‘Fresh Prince’ theme. I forgot to take her picture when her hair was in curlers. I didn’t read enough books to her. I was too busy to paint with her.”
When you’re right there in the midst of the everyday moments, you don’t even notice. You’re too busy with the mundane to see the fleeting beauty of the ordinary.
Flowers bloom in the spring. Fireflies light the summer’s evening. The leaves turn colors every autumn. Snow falls in winter. Seasons come and go, and time passes. All so ordinary… but still so beautiful.
And it is these beautifully fleeting ordinary moments that make life quite extraordinary.