Monday, December 22, 2014

What I Want To Teach My Children: You Are Not Special

You see it everywhere these days. Children's books...TV shows...movies...commercials...internet ads...facebook...


Now let me clarify here before you go calling DCFS on me and label me as a terrible parent. I love my children more than anyone, and to me, they are the most special and unique children in the world. But. The key word there is: TO ME.

The rest of the world? Sure, they might think my kids are great. Or even MORE than great. Or perhaps, when Elizabeth is in the grocery store screaming at a decibel level known only to jet engine workers, people might think my kids are less than great. And I understand that. When you have your own kid, EVERYTHING she does is amazing. I think it's just imprinted in our genes to behave this way. "Oh my gosh...LOOK at the way her toe moves when she crawls!! Isn't that the most adorable thing you've ever seen??" And everyone else is slowly nodding their heads, nervously smiling, wondering to themselves when that parent might have reached this level of crazy, and promising themselves that if THEY ever have children, gosh darnit, they will never act this way.

This need to be special has pervaded our culture in a way it has never been before. I believe it is largely due to social media, a place in which we are bombarded with the extraordinary events of people's lives which leaves us to believe our own lives are less than stellar. (By the way...I think social media is great. But this is one negative effect of it).

People who are in my generation and older remember a time without social media. IN MY DAY, we had to use a TELEPHONE to CALL people if we wanted to talk!! None of this typing, texting nonsense! **Clears throat** Sorry...ahem. Anyway, my children will never have this experience. Even though I will probably be a stricter parent than most and not allow them to have a Facebook (if it still exists in 10 years) or a cell phone with texting and internet (if those even do exist at all), they will still be surrounded by this culture. This culture, which magnifies our lives to be something spectacular and exciting all the time, desensitizes us to what the word "awesome" really means.

I want my kids to realize that there is beauty in the ordinary. That they do not have to grow up to be a brain surgeon or a doctor or a world famous sports athlete in order to be happy. That we should have enormous respect for all professions, from the garbage man all the way to President. I want them to know they are no different from everyone else, because we all have a soul that was created by God Himself.

Even the most menial tasks we do can have great value. As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, we must do "small things with great love." Every time I change a diaper or fold a shirt or clean up a mess, I keep this in mind. That all the small, ordinary things I do every day are meaningful.

We can especially see this during the Christmas season. Mary and Joseph were regular, ordinary people. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. Jesus was born in a tiny, meager stable. None of these circumstances in which the Savior of the world came into being were special. And yet, they were what God chose for His only Son.

So if my kids are never blue ribbon winners, or valedictorians, or competition winners, that's okay. If they are, then great. But as long as they are trying their hardest, I hope they realize that aspiring to be ordinary is wonderful. Because really, that's what we all are: ordinary. And that in itself is a beautiful thing.

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