The wisdom to be ordinary – Clare Deignan - Madonna Magazine

The wisdom to be ordinary – Clare Deignan

Clare Deignan 03 June 2018

hands on top of each other - black and white picDear Charlotte and Ella

Yes, we now have an Ella. Actually, an Eleanor Rose, but we call her Ella. And you, Charlotte, love to refer to her as Ella-Bella-Boo-Bear. You are both charmers. Charlotte with your big, green-blue eyes and pigtails, and Ella with your chubby cheeks and smile, it’s no wonder I can’t get anything done. Your father and I feel so blessed to have two healthy daughters. How did we get so lucky?

Although we have a few more wrinkles because we don’t sleep as much and a day without nappies seems like a distant future, your father and I both keep in mind the saying, ‘Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.’

We make sure to appreciate these simpler years, soaking up bedtime stories and long walks to the local playground. We know the ‘big kid’ days await us, especially as you, Charlotte, grow out of another pair of shoes. So, we snuggle you both in a little closer and share another story. Those days may be coming, but they aren’t today.

Cuddle in now because I’ve got a story to tell. This is a story about a little boy I taught in a Catholic school a long, long time ago. He was a wise little boy – an extraordinary little boy. He was actually extra-ordinary, and this is what made him so extraordinary. When all the other little kids dreamed of growing up to be professional athletes, movie stars, or something big and important, he wanted to be a postman. Yes, this young boy wanted to deliver the post. He thought it was a good career, and he’d like to be outside every day. And, you should have seen the reaction he got from his teachers and principal. They were all so proud. I had to laugh that his desire to be ordinary had made him extraordinary. His goal for his career brought optimism to the school’s staff about future generations – there was hope yet.

I remember being struck that while other students were dreaming of being special or set apart from their peers, this young man hoped to bring special letters, parcels, and packages to our doors. (Of course, there’d be a few bills, but no job is perfect.) He wanted to be of service to his community, and for him, that was enough. I thought this boy would be happy in his life, and I wished I would have been as wise as him at 10.

With this student’s practical career aspiration, I observed how unpractical we had become as a society. Today with everyone wanting to taste celebrity life – creating brands, competing for an audience’s attention, and vying for the approval of strangers through clicks and likes – ironically, wanting to be rich and famous is probably the most unoriginal thing you can hope to achieve.

Your Auntie T-T recently shared with me a statistic she read on what kids want to be when they grow up. Gone are the days of young kids aspiring to be nurses, veterinarians, police officers, teachers, or firefighters. The top two things kids want to be are rich and famous.

Your great-grandmother always warned me about hoping for fame and fortune. When I had reached my teenage years, and our society’s obsession with reality TV had exploded, Great-Grandma Mary would say to me, ‘Clare, I hope you never want to be famous.’ Even at 95 years of age, Great-Grandma still has her finger on the pulse of pop culture and is well aware that the celebrity world isn’t a happy one. Although celebrities seem to have everything advertisers have told us we need, they are thin, beautiful, seemingly rich, and popular. Great-Grandma says that is not happiness.

Happiness to Great-Grandma is living a good, honest, simple, faith-filled life. She would tell me, ‘Clare, marry a man who is honest. Even if he sweeps the streets, if he can pay his bills, you’ll have a happier life and be able to take a vacation.’ Great-Grandma’s practicality makes me smile, but she’s right. And I took her advice. As you age, you will see, being ordinary can actually be a luxury, which will outlast any aspiration for fame and fortune. Her hope for me (and you two) is an ordinary life, just as my old student hoped for.

Now, each night your father and I pray for wisdom for you both. Your father, being agnostic, isn’t a huge prayer bloke, but when I suggested that we start praying for wisdom for you two, he surprisingly agreed. Just before bed, we put our hands together, and we pray that you’ll grow in wisdom throughout your lives. We ask for you to be granted the wisdom to follow your dreams but build a foundation beneath them and to be of service to your community. If these things make you ordinary, what a wonderful thing to be.

We end our prayer by asking that we become wise too and contented that the greatest success of our lives is just to be an everyday family. No matter how humble our station in life, if we can pay our bills and take a vacation, we’ll have found a simple success. We’ll be important in each other’s eyes, enjoying the luxury of being a happily extra-ordinary family, and we will be enough.

Love, Your mum