In Celebration of the Ordinary

1 / 2
2 / 2

It’s been a time of great technological stress.

My computer crashed two Thursdays ago, and refused to reboot. At first this did not exactly panic me. I mean, I’ve been pretty good about backing up my writing onto disc for sometime now. I was confident that I hadn’t lost much more than a paragraph or two of original work. I realized pretty quickly, though, that I hadn’t been quite so diligent, of late, about backing up the photos of my daughter. And not only that; because my hands can never quite bring my best imaginings into being, I’ve given up on conventional scrap-booking, and for a few months now I’ve been using a book layout program to create photo scrapbooks. I hadn’t backed up any of these files, and I feared that they were gone.

My wonderful and tech-savvy brother-in-law messed with it for me for about a week, and gave me the final diagnosis: fried motherboard. I was going to have to buy another computer. The good news, though, was that the hard drive was intact, and it would be a relatively simple matter (for him!) to get my files off the defunct computer and onto a new one. We took care of all of that this past weekend, and Sunday I was able to get back to all of my various projects.

So I was working on one of my photo scrapbooks last Sunday, compiling all of my favorite photos of my daughter into a single book which I plan to have printed for myself, and it occurs to me – most of my very favorite photos of her are not of holidays or of birthdays. They are photos that I took on days when we did nothing in particular. They represent our life together in all of its ordinariness. A single photo of my little daughter getting ahead of me in an empty neighborhood street recalls all of the times that we’ve walked around the block together. It reminds me of the day that I was feeling impatient, and I was hurrying along a little one that was big enough to walk, and big enough to want to walk, but who had neither the stride nor the interest in keeping up with me. Come on! Let’s go! I started to fuss at her, and my little Dr. Suess-lover lifted her face up towards mine and said, “Mom, a person’s a person no matter how small”.

Another photo reminds me of all the time we spent in the car together on work days, shuttling ourselves back and forth from home and day care. Messy curls, mismatched clothes, empty bottle…how glad and relieved I always was to see her at the end of the work day, how just getting her back into my sight made – and still makes – all right with the world.

The pictures recall the day we went to the mall, and she sucked on ginger snaps and we bought the Elmo pajamas. The day that she first sat up on her own in a shopping cart basket; the first day that I gave her solid food; her playing out on the deck, in the yard, in the leaves; digging in the garden; throwing straw; hamming it up for the camera in a restaurant booth; all the big, beautiful smiles; the occasional moody and brow-furrowed glares, “No pictures!”; all the evidence that we’re doing okay; that we have a happy child that is well taken care of; none of the anxieties of everyday living; all of the joy.

They are a reminder to me to celebrate the ordinary; a reminder that the best things in life are the ordinary; and in spite of any aspirations we might have to the contrary, that we are each other’s greatest work.