This month I started a gratitude journal, part of our Mindful March journey to focus on self-care, and I thought about all the things I am grateful for: my kids, my husband, my health, their health, my house, my van that can cart us around, etc….and as that list got longer and less obvious, adding things like, “Learning that my daughter loves when the wind blows her hair when we play outside,” I realized what I am most grateful for is normal days.
It’s really easy to get caught up in things you wish for. And by no means am I saying you shouldn’t dream big. I often think about trips I’d like to take, a future career I’d like to have, or what alternate-universe me would be doing right now, like fighting crime as the world’s most elusive spy. Not possible in this universe, since I can’t cross a room without knocking something over, but you know, maybe in another one! And sometimes, as all mothers surely do, I long for the days before children where I had seemingly endless hours of the day. After navigating life with two kids for about 9 months or so, my husband asked me, “What did you do with your day before kids when we moved here?” because I left my full-time job to follow his. My honest answer, after a LONG pause…”I don’t even know!” Dreaming big and daydreaming are healthy. But what isn’t healthy is comparing yourself to others. Your marriage, your kids, your wardrobe. Comparison is absolutely the thief of joy, because it often robs our confidence in the lives we have built.
Last night I was looking back at my old photos, as I often do, and I realized what an eventful year we have had. We brought a baby into this world a few days before the New Year, so everything in 2018 was her first. We celebrated career achievements, we bought a camper, we traveled to the Outer Banks (a bucket list item for this North Carolina-native who had never been), we took our girls to see mountains for the first time and saw the sun rise on the highest peak east of the Mississippi, we had ALL the holidays together. We had quite the eventful year. Now in 2019, we will see another deployment, we have zero family trips booked, and I am looking wistfully at those past photos filled with adventure. I see friends decorating nurseries, having babies, running marathons, laying in a hammock on a tropical island, and it’s really easy to let that thief sneak in. But here’s were I remind myself how very much I LOVE NORMAL DAYS.
On a normal day, no one is sick. Everyone is mostly happy. A few tears are shed over sharing a toy or the dog eating our animal cracker. We have dance parties. We laugh over a movie. We walk outside and pick flowers and talk about birds. We get up on our tippy toes to check the mail. We eat meals together. We argue about when to get out of the bath. We kiss goodnight and read stories. We may not dip our toes in crystal blue waters or hug Mickey Mouse while watching fireworks, but you know what? The adventures we grow nostalgic for have shaped who we are today, and the moments we wish for just give us more of an excuse to dream big and make them happen. But today, normal is amazing. On days when we end up in the ER, we wish for normal. The first day of deployment when we wake up and realize we have many more months of waking up alone before he comes back, we wish for normal. When we hear someone we love has departed this Earth, we wish for normal. Because normal is comfortingly beautiful. Normal is under-appreciated. Normal is spectacular in disguise. I am extremely, ecstatically thankful for normal days.
XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate