When Ordinary becomes Extraordinary

When Ordinary becomes Extraordinary

 It was last Tuesday.

And it was date night.

Date night is pretty rare, especially for a Tuesday, especially for us.

We had just done the frantic rush from work to school to home to homework in about five seconds flat. It felt that way anyway.

Everyone was off doing something, finally. My husband was picking up pizza for the kids and the sitter. The girls were both doing their own quiet thing in separate rooms.

I was in the kitchen, wrestling with book bags, streams of paperwork and unpacking lunch boxes with wet, gloppy ice packs that were melted down to drips and drops.

“Mommy, do you like me?” a voice called out from the other room.


The room kind of got blurry for a second. I might have dropped an ice pack on the floor right then as I tossed everything away and went running — no sprinting — to the other room.

I looked at my daughter, who was happily writing and coloring at the coffee table. I gave her a questioning but loving smile.

“Of course I do. Why?” and I sat down on the couch across from her.

“Because in gym class today nobody wanted to be my partner. There weren’t any partners left so I went by myself.”








it is all important

As I grappled with a million feelings inside all I wanted to do was grab her up and never let go and cherish the amazing girl that she is and cover her with compliments and love and it’s-gonna-be-alrights.

That’s what I wanted to do.

Instead, I said, “Wow, you were so brave. You are such a risk taker.”

A smile beamed across her face. She went back to coloring.

Life resumed.


Sometimes, we celebrate things we never thought we’d celebrate.

Sometimes, we just have to point out the obvious and that’s celebration enough.

Sometimes, we can ask questions. “What about that situation made you feel proud of yourself?” “How did you feel” What did you do to solve the problem?”

Sometimes, we put a candle in a muffin or a cupcake to celebrate.

Sometimes, we just give a hug and that’s all we can do.

Sometimes, we write about it in our gratitude journal or on a note in the magical memories jar.

Sometimes, we cry over our crab cakes in a restaurant on date night in the middle of a restaurant outside of town where no one can see us.


No matter the moment, our ordinary, common, everyday lives deserve to be remembered fondly. These moments deserve an esteemed place on our t0-do lists.

We must continue to strive to elevate the ordinary to extraordinary.

This is what parenting is all about in my opinion. This is living.

Here are a few of the everyday moments we’ve all encountered recently. With nearly 100 comments on this Facebook question, clearly we have much to celebrate.

Often, these moments are baby steps to the bigger milestones. Often, they are the tiniest moments that bring a smile to our faces. Often, these are fleeting moments that would go otherwise unnoticed.

Today, they are gigantic because we shined our lights on them, we let our eyes wash over them with awe and wonder and we let the true beauty of our ordinary lives become the extraordinary moments that they have always been.

As for my girl … to be brave and walk alone on one’s path is the most ordinary, extraordinary moment in a little girls’ life … don’t you think?

Sobbing, again.

When Ordinary becomes Extraordinary

Learned to get in the pool with no flotation device.

Learned to go under the water.

Read a page in a book.

Got all spelling words correct.

Did something nice for a friend or relative.

Being brave at the dentist.

A tooth fell out in class!

Learned to hula hoop or jump rope.

Finally landed that cartwheel. Sorta kinda.

That little piece of tattered paper with misspelled words that says something sweet.

Sleeping in.

Snuggling extra long.

Going back to work or school after an illness.

Baby steps to reaching a goal.

Remembering to put the wash in the dryer.

Listening to the first coos, the first words, the first “I hate yous.”

A bite mark that turned into a heart.

Being surprised by finding a little bling in your Greek yogurt.

A good review.

A goodnight kiss.

A morning-breath hug.

Finding Bear just in time.

Coffee in silence.

Holding hands.

After school stories.

Surviving another day in a new town.

The leaves turning colors.

Those “I haven’t seen you in a while” hugs even though it’s only been a few  hours.

Siblings showing love to each other.

The list goes on and on

We have started to realize the beautiful moments that happen in our day. Now, how shall we remember them? Let’s celebrate the ordinary in extraordinary ways.


  • Wanna play more as a parent? I offer nearly 100 ways to play and connect in my book The Playful Family, which encourages families to connect and engage through playful experiences.


47 Responses to When Ordinary becomes Extraordinary

  1. I cannot tell you how much I love this. The message is so powerful, but what I love even more is how you stopped–right in the midst of trying to get out the door–to hear your child's brave words… and then you affirmed her courage with genuine love.

    Thank you for bringing this important topic to light. It gets so overwhelming at times to listen to the measures of success that society imposes on us–parents and children. The moments you have described here are the successes I want to celebrate–not the first place ribbons, not the highest grade, not the best looking. And just think, if we sees these lovely traits in our children worthy of celebration, they will begin to see them, too.

    Thank you for the gorgeous messages you write and share. And my children thank you, too.


  2. Shawn, I love this. I too think that it's the celebration of small moments that make our parenting journey meaningful. These small moments are what helps us grow our hearts and show our love, and yet sometimes they are SO EASY to miss. Thanks for the great reminder that all it takes is a little pause sometimes to parent the way I really want to parent.

  3. I love this too;) Oh my heart wanted to hug her too. To feel left out or forgotten is a lie as old as the enemy who told it. You helped her to remember who she was–brave. Isn't that what love does–remind us who we really are. You blessed me today. Thank you!

  4. What a great response you had for your daughter, and what a valuable reminder of being in the moment and celebrating every ordinary thing with our loved ones.

  5. Thank you! Just what I needed after I put my 4 kids to bed and felt completely frazzled.

  6. Shawn {sighs}…. this is exactly what I needed to hear today. THANK YOU for sharing your writing with us.

  7. This post is beautiful. It's so important to remember, and to celebrate, the small reasons why we smile. I am also so impressed with your response to your daughter. It must have been so hard not to grab her up and hug her. Your response gave her confidence in the way she dealt with a difficult situation.

  8. I had a SCREEEECH moment today. I was watching a video a friend had posted on facebook about a news anchor standing up for herself after receiving an obnoxious e-mail from a viewer who was basically telling her she was fat. My 8-year-old son sat next to me and saw the end of it. Suddenly, he said, “I really needed that today.” I was floored. I said, “Really? Why?” He said, “Well, sometimes I feel really different from the other kids in my class.” When I asked him to explain, he said, “I like different things than they do. And when I say I like Thomas the Tank Engine they laugh at me.” Then my husband was calling him to come take his shower and he said, “Mom, when I come back downstairs could you let me watch that video from the beginning so I can see the whole thing?” I said sure.

    He came down a few minutes later and we watched it together. He said, “Mom, what’s she really saying?” I explained to him that she’s trying to say that when people say not-nice things to you that it doesn’t mean anything about you. It means that they think something about you and that they’re choosing to be unkind by saying it out loud. If you like Thomas or if you’re fat or if your hair is funny or whatever- why should they care? If they decide they need to tease you about it, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you- it means there’s something wrong with them for teasing you.

    He seemed to get it, but it’s a lesson we all have to remind ourselves of constantly, I think. And this week I will definitely try to remind my kids of reasons we can celebrate who they are!

    • Kasey – what a beautiful story. My daughter is a talker. But, the other one is not. I fear that she will hold things inside and never tell me. Yes, keep celebrating them!

  9. I'm fairly new to your blog, and I have to say I LOVE it. This article definitely ended with me in tears. I to have. gone through the same situation with my 6 year old. Your articles have given me so much inspiration to be the type of mother I want to be. Thanks for writing. Look forward to many more.

  10. Exactly what I felt when I saw my 2 year old son alone on the playground in is new school when I went to pick him 2 days ago…

    • Well, take comfort in the fact that 2 yr olds don't really make friends. But hugs to you because, yeah, there are no books for these sorts of heartbreaks.

  11. I know, I know… But he's almost 3 (this November)… So he's in the 3 yr old class… But the next day he said he was trying to cheer up a boy who was crying for his mother so he went to get him some toys to distract him! Soooo sweet!

  12. Love this! As a photographer and mom, I totally get this! It’s these ordinary moments that I”m fighting to capture in my life everyday. There is so much going on in our lives as moms and it’s just taking the time to breathe, open our eyes and see all the amazing things we have in our lives! Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    • Yes, taking photos definitely helps to capture these mmoments but sometimes it’s nice just to relish them raw, without a lens. This from the mom whose daughter says “no more pictures, mom!”

  13. This really hit home with me. Yesterday my daughter had to do a class presentation and I thought she did an amazing job on her poster. She said that she went 4th in the class and everyone clapped for the other three children, but no one clapped for her presentation. My heart broke and ached my baby. I told her that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks and that her dad, her sister, and myself will always be her biggest fans. We clapped for her and she made a face, and says, “but it doesn’t count now”. I did email the teacher and asked her about it. She explained that my daughter did an excellent presentation and was given an E (exceptional) for it. She said right after her presentation, the kids were supposed to transition over to reading & she felt that was why they didn’t clap. She said the kids in her class love her and she felt awful about it. The teacher was going to talk to her today about it too. I did reassure her this morning also. I can’t imagine how she felt though. It’s good to know that she is not the only child that goes through life’s little trials.

    • We often say something like, “Did you think you did a good job?” And when they say yes, we say, “That’s all that matters.” : ) thanks for sharing this story. I know that this is life, this dealing with life’s blows … but it doesn’t make us feel any better!! Hugs to your girl for being brave and doing so exceptionally well!

  14. Thank you for your wisdom. I will try my best to remember how you approached such an important topic with such grace and openness. Each day I am learning that I don’t know much about parenting and I am glad that there are wonderful mothers like you who can put their experiences and their hearts out there for others like me to know and learn a lot from.


  15. Shawn your response to your daughter was amazing. I can never think fast on my feet like that. Thank you for such a beautiful post. It grounds me when I read your posts. Keeps me centered. Thank you! I’ve featured you on my blog (again!) today as part of the Sunday Parenting Party link up.

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Shawn Fink - Abundant MamaFrom Our Founder

I created The Abundant Mama Project to inspire overwhelmed, busy mothers to slow down and let go of the worries and concerns that are holding them back from experiencing joyful motherhood. Read More »
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