Gelato Mama Wonders If
“normal” Is Enough

The case for ordinary.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Emily Tecklenburg
  • Illustrated by
    Yasmine Kahsai

I don’t have extraordinary kids. I love them extraordinarily. I want to protect them extraordinarily. I want them to be extraordinarily happy. But aside from the relentless, extraordinary fighting they engage in with one another, I have two pretty ordinary kids.

The older my kids get though, the less I can fool them into thinking their ordinariness is a worthy quality. You don’t have to look too deep into these parts to find a reason to feel inadequate.

See: Manhattan Beach Ski Week. We spent Ski Week seeing how far our echos could carry throughout the seemingly deserted South Bay while sneaking peeks of your snowy social media. Stealing too many glances, however, proved inevitably stupid as the pangs of sadness and inferiority quickly overtook, as is so often the result of peeking at filtered lives. Also, it looks exhausting to be so extraordinary all the time.

I don’t claim to be a parenting expert, or any sort of expert. Or even a parent when my kids are embarrassing me in public. But I will say that I possess one superpower that is rapidly declining in worth: the power to pass on to my children the gift of ordinary.

Ordinary gets a bad rap these days. How can it not when we are constantly bombarded by images and experiences that are bigger! better! greater! than ours? That’s not how I want my kids to eventually reflect on their childhood. For when I reflect on my own childhood memories, the ones that stick the sweetest are the most ordinary of all—the memories of water fights and bike rides and ice cream and goodnight hugs and backyard basketball and the scent of our lilac bush forever permeating spring. These are the memories I would choose to slip in to, just one more time. To once more feel the sharp grass beneath my feet as I run free all summer long; to remember how extraordinarily lucky I was to be so ordinary with such an abundance of unfiltered time.

Of course, it’s silly of me to expect my budding teenagers to feel grateful that I’m not a Kardashian, giving them their best life every day. Insecurity and doubt bubble gently below the surface—that constant question always looming: Am I doing right by my kids? Giving enough? Doing enough? Will they want to go back and live in the bike rides, the ice cream and the goodnight hugs? Or will they wish they had it just a little bigger, better, greater?

But then, we all fall into the sofa at the end of the day, each child clamoring for the spot closest to me. My hands absentmindedly scratch their backs as their heads rest in my lap. And I can’t help but feel extraordinary.

Perhaps I have fooled my kids, after all. Perhaps it is giving them the gift of ordinary that will forever ensure they’ll never be blind to the extraordinary.