As I was preparing to give birth and transition away from “world changing” work to maternity leave two months ago, I started thinking about what it means to be ordinary. I was a bit nervous that I would (temporarily) leave a job I really enjoy and find much fulfilment in to being woken up in the night, changing 10+ diapers a day only to find myself deeply disappointed with the repetitive ordinariness.
In preparation for this transition (because it’s me, and when do I ever just do something without preparing) I started reading a book recently released called Ordinary. It’s a bit of a response to the popular idea lately that everything/everyone needs to be extraordinary, and live lives that are epic or radical. In some ways I felt like the first part of the book spoke directly to this blog saying, “Just live your life, stop trying so hard to be something and just be.” It was a helpful reminder that ordinary isn’t necessarily bad or boring. In a culture where we’re always competing to have the most exotic vacations, the most epic weddings, the smartest kids, etc. we overlook the treasure in “regular” life.
Right now, my life is “extra-ordinary”, as in really-really ordinary. I’m doing what billions of women have done since the beginning of time: try to keep an infant alive and then turn them into a contributing member of society. And yet, when you think about the process of pushing a small human out of your body you can’t help but think: HOW IS THIS NORMAL? HOW IS THIS ORDINARY? But it is. Just like when I was at my University graduation. Bachelors degrees seem like a dime a dozen these days (same with Masters) and the really special people get Doctorates. My mom went on and on about how proud she was that I got my degree, something she never got to do. When I finally got in the convocation hall to receive my degree I realized: degrees may be very common these days but it doesn’t mean it isn’t special and it doesn’t mean I didn’t work really hard for four years to get that piece of paper (that is entirely in latin and I can’t read, thanks Queen’s…). This ordinary thing is still special in some respects.
Making a human is a very regular occurrence in our world, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t extraordinary. While other people are out conversing with other adults and contributing to society, I’m at home watching Gilmore Girls for hours while keeping this tiny human alive and battle his diaper rash. I’m a bit surprised that I don’t feel more disappointed by the slowness and by what the world seems to think is a very un-liberated and menial work. I’m enjoying it. I am grateful for this perspective change and the help to slow down and enjoy the ordinary.