As a new mom, this resonates with me strongly.
I guess it’s only natural to want extraordinary things for your children. Just think about how early on this mentality starts—how we boast to friends and family and strangers about developmental victories. “Oh, she’s rolling over at 4.5 months already, she’s so strong!” Or, “he’s practically talking to us already, he’s gonna be a smart one!” What kind of parent wouldn’t want to celebrate these strides and hope that they are the beginning of a bright future? It’s normal, but can we easily get carried away?
If we place too much emphasis on these things, if our children grow up thinking that they must be extraordinary in order to make us proud—how often, then, will they feel that they’ve fallen short? Will they work so diligently and get so stressed out trying to please us that they miss out on the beauty of the ordinary and the everyday? Will they feel that becoming extraordinary is the only thing that makes life worth living?
While celebrating triumphs and encouraging them to challenge themselves, let us not neglect teaching them to slow down sometimes, and appreciate the simple experiences that may easily be taken for granted. Teach them to relish the deep, visceral emotions that beautifully written music can induce. Help them recognize the feeling of sitting in a dim, Christmas tree lit room, carols playing in the background and watching the snowflakes fall softly to the ground. Or the relief of a mug of hot chocolate warming their cold, numb, hands after hours of playing out in the snow. The surreal beauty of a grass field glittering with lightning bugs at dusk, or the endorphin high of a jog just for the sake of jogging rather than to beat a time. Show them the freshness of the crisp, autumn air, the smell of campfires, and the aroma of pumpkin pie filling the house as family arrives for Thanksgiving dinner. The warmth of the sun streaming in their faces and hot sand squishing between toes.
By teaching them to revel in the things that are intrinsically extraordinary, we will provide them with the freedom and ability to become extraordinary. We’ll set the foundation of a life of true happiness. So that when, inevitably, they experience rejection, or failure, or fall short of a personal goal, they won’t feel inadequate. They will not feel burnt out or like giving up or like they shouldn’t even bother. They will instead say, “I tried my best—I will try again later”, and simply return to thoroughly enjoying every sip of their morning coffee.