A picture says a thousand words. While looking at a picture of my husband with our 2 year old daughter Lily, I was struck by a deep sense of love and appreciation for the father he is to our children. That picture captures the father that my husband is to our two children. He is patient, attentive, loving and very active in their lives.
In my household, my husband being a phenomenal father is simply a “normal” thing. While looking at that picture, I thought about many children without their fathers in their lives. This made me sad and made me realize how very easily normal is often taken for granted.
The truth is that we should celebrate normal more often because normal things are extraordinary events happening in real time and because we are witnesses to their frequent occurrences, we routinely lose the miraculous gaze which we ought to fix on them.
When waking up and breathing is normal, we ought to remind ourselves that the difference between a dead person and someone that’s alive at any given moment is breath or lack thereof.
When your children are aggravating you and you’re feeling the weight and stress of parenthood, remember that children are gifts from God; conceiving them is a miracle, birthing them is a huge risk and one of the most amazing miracles of life. There is a saying in Yoruba (A Nigerian language), a salutation to congratulate new parents who have just given birth. They say, “eku ewu omo,” which means congratulations on surviving the perils of child birth. I think that statement fully encapsulates what a huge risk pregnancy and childbirth is.
When your wife gives up her career to stay at home to take care of the children or when she goes to work and despite being tired, she still takes care of you and the children, then that is extraordinary. Celebrate and appreciate her efforts.
When your husband works hard to provide for his family, helps around the house and is present in the lives of his children, remember that is extraordinary. Be thankful.
Don’t let the frequency of extraordinary events dilute its miracle, don’t allow the frequency of these sacred moments make you take your life and the gifts therein for granted.
You may have a job that’s not exciting, or you are not where you had hoped you would be at this time in your finances, career or other areas of life. Don’t take the normal things for granted, your job might not be exciting at this time, but it is taking care of the necessities. It might not be a destination, but it is a road to the destination.
You need to stop and take inventory of your successes. Gratitude is to the soul what oxygenated blood is to the brain. Reminding yourself of how far you have come and how blessed you are not to have taken some paths that would have led you to destruction is instructive. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have and how other people are doing better than you, focus on what you do have. Focus on what you have deemed to be normal, ordinary, not worthy of appreciation. The accumulation of gratitude of that which you take for granted in itself offset the burden of self-pity.
For my ladies, myself included who practice self-loathing because our hairs are too short, too long, too straight, too curly, too afro, too thick, too thin, too light or our arms are too big, our thighs are too fat, our tummies are too heavy and our butts too wide. Yes, you! Remember that you are made in the image of God and that your body is a miracle. What you are busy criticizing and hating is what someone else is wishing to have. I am not saying we should be unhealthy and not take care of our bodies. We should exercise and eat well, but we should at the same time abdicate the unhealthy act of engaging in self and body loathing. Engaging in self and body hate has the same impact on the mind as self-mutilation has on the body, it leaves invisible scars. Love your bodies and thank it for the extraordinary things it does for you each day because having all your parts in working order is not normal, it is a gift.
What is extraordinary? Extraordinary things are the common things we do every day. What makes them extraordinary is when we give the normal things a second look, a miraculous gaze, when we pay close attention to them. Then, we will see what has been there all along, that those normal things are special, remarkable, exceptional and extraordinary “normal” things.
If you don’t take the time to appreciate the normal things in your life, you will misuse and mismanage them. I want to appreciate my husband for being an exemplary and extraordinary father to our children. It is normal in our household, but being a present, loving and attentive father is not an ordinary and normal thing, it is extraordinary normal!