My husband picked up a hobby that I’m not so fond of, flying. More on how you let your spouse start a hobby you hate in a future blog post but, to keep my brain from thinking all kinds of sick thoughts every time he heads out for a lesson (TWICEAFUCKINGWEEK), I make inappropriate jokes to mask my fear.

I ask whether his insurance policy is up to date and if his important passwords are accessible to me, and whether he wants me to “waste” money on a casket when what he probably wants is a cool memorial with a lot of Careless Whisper, fireworks, and a good bbq. I also tell him that I plan to whitewash our red brick house the second he’s gone.

He’s a lucky guy to have a wife like me, I know.

But you can guess how sentimental I get about non-extraordinary moments in life. I’m kind of a tough crowd.

One night, recently, husband and I sat together and scrolled through old videos of our kids on our phones. All of a sudden, I found myself fighting back crocodile tears, partially because the videos were SO damn sweet but mostly because I didn’t actually remember those moments feeling sweet when I was actually living them. And some of those moments? It actually felt like it had happened to someone else.

What I did remember was feeling sad, tired, and frustrated. What I remember was spending a lot of time wishing the days would hurry up and pass. What I remember is yelling and wanting to run away. What I remember is feeling resentful because I wasn’t doing anything “important” that the world had noticed. What I remember is wishing they would hurry up and grow up.

But what I saw in those videos completely froze me. I couldn’t stop watching, because it brought me so much joy. But, honestly, it was like watching someone else’s life. A highlight reel in a movie. Who were these amazing kids?

Brothers giggling as they wrestled on a couch. The sloppy smiles of babies digging in the sand (and occasionally eating it). Siblings meeting each other for the first time at the hospital. Silly songs way past bedtimes. Mispronounced words. So many every day, ordinary moments that were just beyond special.

As I watched those videos, the shame spiral started. (I just love that Brene Brown phrase, “shame spiral.”) I really started to beat myself up. “How could you not SEE these beautiful babies? Why are you always focusing on the negative? Look at how amazing.”

I beat myself up and cried. I watched for over an hour and finally turned them off, well after midnight. The cry was therapeutic. I felt a release. And a strong desire to start looking at how I viewed those “everyday” moments with my kids.

I had been telling myself a story: that I was a serious mom, incapable of having fun on the regular. And that the opinion of others was what gave me worth. I had been chasing the extraordinary in the external. And that may have been okay, to a degree, if I could have also seen the extraordinary things happening right in front of me.

I decided then that those videos would be a gift. Or a slap in the face. An alarm clock waking me up to a new morning as a mom. Those videos gave me the chance to experience those moments again, this time with a new perspective.

I’m not going to sugar coat it and tell you to “seize the day” or “enjoy this time because they are only little for so long.” There are some rough days. A LOT of rough days, for some of us. But today is a new morning. And a new chance to see the ordinary moments in an extraordinary way.

If you find that you have some time for mindless scrolling today, skip your social media feed and scroll through the old videos and photos you’ve got on your phone. Just be sure to have a tissue on hand.

Renata Musial

Renata is the founder and creator of Renewing Mom, an online community and series of in-person experiences that help moms stay connected to who they are as women and individuals. A recovering attorney, Renata lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and three young kids.

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