Ordinary Magic

My son was born three months before my best friend had her first child. I remember sitting in the glider, baby finally asleep in my arms, exhausted after one of those endless newborn baby nights. (And I a newborn mama.)

As soon as sun peeked through the curtains I felt a calm wash over my postpartum body. I had just spent many long, dark hours wondering how I was going to make it through these baby days, yet suddenly I was overcome with an unspeakable joy as I looked down at my boy’s perfect little face. In that moment, I texted these words to my best friend: It’s magic.

And it really did feel that way, in that particular moment. This was over six years ago, and I’ve learned this is the rhythm of motherhood, at least for me–the waves come on strong and hard, and sometimes they feel relentless. But the calm comes, too. And the magic.

In a culture that conflates busyness with productivity, productivity with success, and success with contentment, it’s easy to chase “big” experiences for our children, to craft complicated schedules filled with organized activities and lessons–what sociologist Annette Lareau calls the “concerted cultivation” approach to child-rearing.

But I don’t find much magic in the orchestrated experiences. And I’m here for the magic. Besides, we all know the adage is true, that it’s the little things that make a life. So instead of worrying about big experiences, I worry about the little ones, the daily habits and routines that create the rhythm of our lives.

What are the things we do we do, day after day, and how can we infuse these things with meaning? How can I create habits that make meaning in spaces we might otherwise overlook?

It’s easier than you might think. Every family has a routine, and from that routine, a rhythm. And rhythm is where ordinary magic lives. For my family it’s in simple habits of connection–we cook and eat breakfast together every morning. We give each other “all day kisses” at school drop off every morning. We mark each new day together on our perpetual calendar. We gather around our giant wall calendar at the start of every new month and we fill it in together. We say a sweet good night rhyme together before bed.

Ordinary magic is the inspiration behind most of my printables. I created our seasonal bucket lists for this reason. I love calendars and trackers because they remind us to pause and recognize the passing of time, which reminds us to savor the moment. These things have helped my family find magic in the all the in-between spaces. They remind us that we don’t have to chase extra-ordinary experiences to find magic. The magic is around us already, and it’s worth making the space to see it.

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