Extra and Ordinary Parenting
Extraordinary parenting takes place in the ordinary moments.
I heard this quote during a Father’s Day message at church, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. (As a mom to small children the words “ordinary moments” seem to be never-ending.)
And they often seem inconvenient. Like when your daughter reveals the toy in her hands that you are certain didn’t get scanned and paid for in Target. You just buckled her into her seat and it’s encroaching on lunch time, for you and her. And you have the choice to start the car and drive home, dismissing the petty-theft, or use this incredibly ill-timed moment to teach her a lesson.
“Ordinary” is how we describe everyday challenges. Like being summoned to be the referee, for the 10th time in the past hour. All you’re trying to do is send a few emails before 10 o’clock and you have given already given your children the warning. But now you must follow through with the consequence you threatened not 20 minutes ago, or, dismiss what is a distraction.
When you are visiting with a friend at the park, “ordinary” moments happen routinely. You know what’s happened by looking at his face. He doesn’t even need to tell you why he’s in level 3 melt-down. You see the slightly older boys running in the opposite direction. Bullying conversations are hard to have. And maybe you’re the parent of the older bullies, and your ordinary moment is having an equally difficult chat with your son.
Extraordinary moments take place all the time. And often we view them as interruptions, inconveniences or distractions to the more important things in our day.
We don’t see them as opportunities. To be sure, they provide a chance for us to don our super-parent capes and teach our children lessons of integrity, compassion, work ethic, kindness, faithfulness and other important truths. They are hardly ever simple or easy, and rarely do we categorize them as “fun”.
But fast forward a couple days, or weeks, months or years and what you see is character oozing out of your toddler turned small child, or the high-schooler who was just starting kindergarten – like yesterday.
When your daughter turns into a young woman who refuses to shop-lift like her teenage friends, or your son comes home from school in the 5th grade with a black eye because he stood up for the underdog, or when your children prefer one another, serve their siblings, and look out for smaller kids, you see the fruit of those seemingly insignificant moments of the past.
And honestly, it is hard some days to recognize these events as what they could be. I often wish I push a fast forward to the “easier” years (clearly I am naive, right?)
Some days I wish I could drive in silence, or turn on the radio and drown out the incessant singing of Frozen songs. But instead I continue to belt out “Let It Go” along with my girls because I know we will all end up laughing like crazy and having a good time. And those are more of the extraordinary moments that I want them to remember.
Not just the lessons learned and the opportunities for growth, but also the fun, laughter-filled adventures we embarked on together. Whether at the beach, the park, walking our neighborhood, in the kitchen baking banana bread, or jumping over hot lava in the living room.
Because extraordinary parenting takes place in all sorts of ordinary ways. In the words we speak and the way we extend kindness, patience, and mercy towards our children. In the way we cultivate a love of learning, of creativity and imagination in them, and breathe life into those natural strengths and passions that we see emerge at a young age.
So let’s embrace this day and this week with fresh perspective. Let’s choose to sing louder, play longer and dance with more intention. Let’s choose to see what lies behind the distraction, the inconvenient in the day and breathe something extra into those ordinary moments.