Thank you, God, for the usual

Every morning when I ask, “What would you like for breakfast today?” our fourth grader says, “The usual.”

The usual.

It’s such a great answer. It says, “You know me, and you know what I like. I trust you to cook my breakfast for me. And I know you’ll make it just the right way.”

There’s something so comforting about having the usual. So every morning I fill our boys’ bowls with their favorite soups and add a couple ice cubes to cool them off. I set a bowl of extra noodles for one and a bowl of yogurt for the other. I slice an apple and get their milk ready. Then I call them to the table and we have our typical, ordinary start to the day.

The usual.

They’re happy. I’m happy. So we return to the same meal day after day, week after week, year after year.

And, trust me here, the usual is anything but sedate and boring.

Just because you’re having the usual doesn’t mean your morning isn’t full of giggles and people sneaking out of their chairs to hide behind the dining room curtains. There are the arguments about whether it’s a day we need to wear long-sleeved shirts and friendly debates about Pokemon. There are lost field trip forms and suddenly-remembered homework and a mother who’s frantically making a crockpot dinner while trying to pack lunches.

The usual around here can be pretty action-packed. And that’s just fine.

In fact, the usual is my favorite. There might not be fireworks and parades, but these ordinary days are truly extraordinary. These are the times when we are creating the memories of childhood, writing our story as a family together. These are the moments our children will remember—not just the dazzle and excitement of Christmas morning, but the morning kisses and the annoying country music mom is listening to in the kitchen and the toys they managed to sneak to the table with them and hide in their bathrobes.

These days, especially because so often we are derailed by snow or ice or sickness, I’m perfectly happy with “the usual.” I am increasingly grateful to God for the normal days, the days where the phone doesn’t ring with an emergency, when school starts on time, when everyone is feeling well, when there are few surprises.

It’s in those ordinary moments of routine that extraordinary, perhaps unexpected, beauty can emerge.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy Ordinary Time. It doesn’t have the flash of Christmas or Easter, and it doesn’t have the journey feel of Advent and Lent. It’s just, well, ordinary. But the ordinary is unpolished and real. It’s simple and true.

There might not be the trumpets of Easter or the lights of Christmas, but Ordinary Time is full of a beauty and a joy all its own. There’s a richness, a depth, a purpose to this time. We can settle into it, enjoy the rhythm of the days, and look for the beauty—and the holiness—in the ordinary.

Thank you, God, for sending us the usual today. If You would, please send me the same tomorrow.

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Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.