An Ordinary Life

No doubt she’s disappointed.

Such a disgrace I turned out to be.

Not a policy-maker
Or tech-savvy entrepreneur.
Nothing of note.

I gave birth three times
and sent three
tall, kind people 
into the world

I offered words of consolation
I planted sunflowers
I listened

Elected official?
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist?
Cutting-edge thought-leader?
Oscar, Emmy, Tony? 

I closed my mother’s eyes
when she died
and again, my father’s

I made no fortune
no headlines
nothing went viral

I sang and danced
for no one

I remembered
I noticed
I breathed

Just an ordinary life
filled with extraordinary love.

How disappointing.
~Mary Poindexter McLaughlin “Alma Mater”

Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.

Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
~William Martin from The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

Parents can hold expectations of success for their children
that reflect their own deficiencies or failures.
After all, we want the world to be a better place for them than for us.

Yet no academic degree, no bank account, no notoriety or award
can match living an ordinary life filled with extraordinary love.

I did disappoint my parents despite checking off all the boxes they hoped I would achieve in my younger years, because in retrospect, I disappointed myself.

I tended to cling to old grievances and resentments, withholding myself emotionally from them. I could have been more compassionate in their failing years, more available even though physically present. That is something I cannot undo except to pray now for forgiveness for my own deficiencies and failures.

Giving birth to three tall kind people who we have sent into the world, I hope for them what I wish I had understood when I was sent into the world by my parents: living an ordinary life of extraordinary love is more important than anything else they set out to do.

I rejoice as I see them foster such love with their spouses and their children and their communities: remembering, noticing and breathing life into each new day.

Seeing that, I can let go of my own disgrace and disappointment in myself.

12 thoughts on “An Ordinary Life

  1. So timely and potent. I hate the pandemic but it has slowed me down and turned my focus to simpler things. God uses many incidences and issues in our lives to make us pause, think and send us running to Him. He is standing in the shadows, waiting for us to notice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully said, Emily, creating a lovely aura around your life with admiration and understanding.
    For me, what has been left unsaid is that you have obviously followed and adhered to a Soul-created personal Credo for living your outstanding meaningful life:
    that of trying to see all meaning, intention, and understanding of your words, your actions, your beliefs through the eyes of Jesus.

    What more could any person want? Need?

    The beauty of this Credo is that you chose it early in life and have not deviated from it since then. Rather, you have shared your
    healing Wisdom and love of everything among our Creator-God’s Creation — in the ‘cyberworld’, and in your own ‘training-living place’ — your beloved homestead
    with your husband, children, grandchildren, friends, community worshiping place.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You ARE extraordinary! You dun good and have every right to forgive yourself. You must be exhausted. You are many things to many people. Give yourself a break. We luv you! Hugs ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love all these comments – some from those who know you personally and some just your blog readers. All True! Thank you, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful tall kind children you have. Not too shabby, that is quite an accomplishment!
    Blessings to you & your family

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful tall kind children you have. Not too shabby, that is quite an accomplishment!
    Blessings to you & your family

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love this! In birthing our children, we re-birth ourselves! I believe children are born to fulfill their own dreams, not their parents’.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.