The Extraordinary Ordinary Story

A friend and I went for a walk one evening over ten years ago. We were roommates at the time, spending our days sleeping in, waiting tables, and hanging out with friends late into every night. We were walking down the sidewalk near our apartment, past house after house, all lined up with their fences.

My friend stopped suddenly. Her face expressed her fears as she looked over the fences. She said she didn't know if she could ever do it. She spoke of feeling a bit panicked when picturing herself behind those fences. She admitted feeling a resistance to this cookie-cutter family existence.

We stood and stared at the houses, the moms, the mini-vans in the driveways, the fences, the children, the dogs...

My friend said it was terrifying to think about every day being the same. An endless repetitive routine. A hamster's wheel.

As single people at the time, we couldn't imagine NOT being able to just get up and go, spending our time selfishly, forgetting responsibility. The most disturbing part of our conversation was the realization that it seemed every house and family was exactly the same, the people inside living the same days over and over, mirroring their neighbors.

I don't know why, but in that moment a wave of peace came over me, so I tried to articulate what was in my heart. I said that I realized it looked like all these people had the exact same life, but we were forgetting something.

Even if these lives we observed seemed similar to their neighbors in nearly every way, each person within those houses had a different story to tell. A different road that brought them to this place, behind fences. And even if their routines were much the same, these people all did these daily tasks in their own unique way.

I also thought about the love that existed there, bubbling out of the children with their giggles, and in their mothers hearts. I didn't have any idea what that would really feel like, but I knew it would be profound. An extraordinary kind of love in the ordinary lives of people.
My friend got married and had two beautiful children long before I did. She now has a husband, a six and a seven year old, a dog, and even a fence. She is everything she was back when we took that walk, and so much more. She is living what could be considered an ordinary life. And yet she carries all of the memories and experiences from the days before her family arrived. She became that cookie-cutter wife and mother, and in my eyes she became even more extraordinary. Because of the intense love in her home, behind that fence, she wouldn't go back those ten years for anything.

Today my friend is working hard, focusing on her family and their daily routine. She is all mother and wife, and yet she is still simply my dear Kate, able to laugh and cry with me and share the depths of her unique spirit, just as she always has.

There are a thousand little ways that Kate and I are now living that once feared cookie-cutter existence. Our cars are messy and there's a lot of dog hair clinging to our hardwoods. We are woken up much too early most days, and face the repetitive tasks that motherhood requires. We spend far too much time thinking about what to make for dinner, and we get tired of cleaning the bathroom. Sometimes we get frustrated and impatient, and make a lot of mistakes.

But one thing will never change.

There is a love that can't be described in our hearts as mothers. People have often tried to give this love words, but there just aren't enough in any language.

It is this love, and our own unique ways of showing it, that make us extraordinary in this ordinary life.


  1. What a beautiful post! I sometimes can't believe that's me too - former free-wheeling singleton with a wife, kid, and fenced in yard for the dog. But the love, oh the love I have for these peeps - my peeps. It's so worth it.

  2. One of my favorite posts on Heather's blog!! I'm glad it was up today :)


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