Actually, Carpe Diem

In the last few days I’ve noticed more than a few mothers that I am friends with on Facebook linking to aHuffington Post essay by Glennon Melton titled “Don’t Carpe Diem.” The writer is a mother of three young children and she talks about the unease she feels when older people encourage her to enjoy every moment of parenting because it all goes by so fast.

Every time I’m out with my kids — this seems to happen: An older woman stops us, puts her hand over her heart and says something like, “Oh, Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast.” Everywhere I go, someone is telling me to seize the moment, raise my awareness, be happy, enjoy every second, etc, etc, etc.

I know that this message is right and good. But, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn’t work for me. It bugs me. This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life – while I’m raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong.

Melton writes well about the difficulties of raising kids, the frustrations and exhaustion, and she ends with an eloquent description of those few moments throughout a harried mom’s day when she pulls back and sees the beauty of her child’s face or feels the gratitude for the bounty she has in love and resources. It’s worth reading the article if only for the last few paragraphs.

But when I got to the end, I wondered if she’s missing the point the older women are trying to make. While they may be saying, “Enjoy every moment,” maybe they really mean, “Be with every moment.” Live it. Step into the unpleasantness of your child crying. Feel the pressure of a messy house, a meal to make, and a diaper to change. Hear the sound of your child laughing. Savor the relief in the walk around the car from buckling your child’s carseat to your driver’s door.

I think people tend to give this carpe diem advice to parents because the ever-changing nature of life is so apparent and so poignant when it comes to childhood. Our children start out as tiny babies and become people who are bigger and stronger than us. In the beginning they are helpless and dependent for their survival, but eventually they leave our homes and fend for themselves.

Maybe the old ladies are saying, pay attention to it because if you don’t you’ll feel like somehow you missed it. “It all goes by so fast.” Those women are speaking from the other side. They are saying, “Live it now, because it isn’t going to stay this way forever. And once it is over, it’s over.”

Sometimes I want to stop life from changing. The other day we discovered that my five-year old has his first loose tooth. My eight-year old congratulated him by saying, “That’s great! Soon you’ll have beaver teeth like me.”

My husband and I laughed, but I could feel a sharp pang of not wanting his cute little baby teeth to come out. There’s nothing in me that wants my little one to change. It’s not up to me, though.

So actually, I will try to carpe diem as much as I can.

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About jubuhoo

I am a writer and editor in Seattle, Washington. I live with my two children, my husband, and our surly cat. View all posts by jubuhoo

4 responses to “Actually, Carpe Diem

  • Stacey

    To me, the very essence of Glennon Melton’s essay is that society is placing too much pressure on moms to “be with every moment”, as you have put it. That I am missing out if on any given day, I cannot totally “Step into the unpleasantness of your child crying. Feel the pressure of a messy house, a meal to make, and a diaper to change.” Sometimes I just want to get through the day and all its chaos, and yet somehow society is making me feel inadequate for not being able to embrace the passage of time on a moment-to-moment basis. Really, it feels like pouring gas into a fire sometimes.

    So I will have to disagree with your point of view.

    • jubuhoo

      Thanks for your comment. This is a blog largely about mindfulness so it’s not a casual thing for me to talk about trying to be with every moment. I strive for the same level of mindfulness when I am putting dishes in the dishwasher or cleaning the bathroom as I do when I am with my kids. (Often unsuccessfully, I will add.) When I write about parenting, I am writing about what I aspire to and why. I don’t presume to know what is right for anyone else. Society places lots of pressures on parents, especially mothers, and that is a hard thing to deal with. I hope you can weed out the voices that cause you distress and focus on the ones that support your needs and goals. Best wishes, Stacey

  • Shannon

    Stacey,

    I too found this article blasted across my friends’ facebook and read it… and at the end of the article my soul just went… “huh?” I am a new mommy and sure I have had many days of tears but call me crazy even after a looooong that has had some “take a deep breath” moments -when I go to lay down my boy, I still just want to get one last snuggle in because I know it will and has already gone by so fast. I don’t understand where the guilt comes in… there is too much to celebrate… and you know what there should be some pressure because yes our children our depending on us… I’d rather sit there and cry with my baby and still cherish that moment of weakness when I don’t know what else to do… than begin to only celebrate the moments when the world stands still. I feel like Glennon’s post was a “get me off the hook” in the name of being “relevant” …I feel very sad when mother’s have a hard time enjoying such a gift a motherhood… I have had to laid down so much and unplug from a lot to truly tune in to my kid… but that is what we should be doing when we sign up to be a mommy… it’s not about us being inadequate … but I do think it’s about us being unselfish. I glad most kids won’t be able to read all these mommies comments of frustration… God can set us free from the guilt and create moments of STILLNESS even in your storm!

    I saw some post this article above and just wanted to let you know WOW you and me might be the only ones who LOVE to carpe diem as much as we can!!

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