By Stacey Schultz
In the last few days I’ve noticed more than a few mothers that I am friends with on Facebook linking to a Huffington 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.
Stacey Schultz is a nationally published freelance writer in Seattle. She writes about parenting, health, education and the environment. Her website is staceyschultz.com, and this post was originally published on her blog, Jubuhoo.