Jan 042012
 

Don't Carpe Diem

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 as 2011 closes, 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.

I think parenting young children (and old ones, I’ve heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they’ve heard there’s magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it’s hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that  most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.

And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers – “ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU’LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN’T!” TRUST US!! IT’LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!”  – those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.

Now. I’m not suggesting that the sweet old ladies who tell me to ENJOY MYSELF be thrown from a mountain. These are wonderful ladies. Monkees, probably. But last week, a woman approached me in the Target line and said the following: “Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls. Every single moment. These days go by so fast.”

At that particular moment, Amma had swiped a bra from the cart and arranged  it over her sweater, while sucking a lollipop undoubtedly found on the ground. She also had three shop-lifted clip-on neon feathers stuck in her hair. She looked exactly like a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras. A losing contestant. I couldn’t find Chase anywhere, and Tish was sucking the pen from the credit card machine  WHILE the woman in front of me was trying to use it. And so I just looked at the woman, smiled and said, “Thank you. Yes. Me too. I am enjoying every single moment. Especially this one. Yes. Thank you.”

That’s not exactly what I wanted to say, though.

There was a famous writer who, when asked if she loved writing, replied, “No. but I love having written.” What I wanted to say to this sweet woman was, “Are you sure? Are you sure you don’t mean you love having parented?”

I love having written. And I love having parented. My favorite part of each day is when the kids are put to sleep (to bed) and Craig and I sink into the couch to watch some quality TV, like Celebrity Wife Swap, and congratulate each other on a job well done. Or a job done, at least.

Every time I write a post like this, I get emails suggesting that I’m being negative. I have received this particular message four or five times – G, if you can’t handle the three you have, why do you want a fourth?

That one always stings, and I don’t think it’s quite fair. Parenting is hard. Just like lots of important jobs are hard. Why is it that the second a mother admits that it’s hard, people feel the need to suggest that maybe she’s not doing it right? Or that she certainly shouldn’t add more to her load. Maybe the fact that it’s so hard means she IS doing it right…in her own way…and she happens to be honest.

Craig is a software salesman. It’s a hard job in this economy. And he comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. And I don’t ever feel the need to suggest that he’s not doing it right, or that he’s negative for noticing that it’s hard, or that maybe he shouldn’t even consider taking on more responsibility. And I doubt anybody comes by his office to make sure he’s ENJOYING HIMSELF. I doubt his boss peeks in his office and says: “This career stuff…it goes  so fast…ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE, CRAIG???? THE FISCAL YEAR FLIES BY!! CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!”

My point is this. I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn’t enjoying it enough. Double failure.  I felt guilty because I wasn’t in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn’t MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I’d wake up and the kids would be gone, and I’d be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.

But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here’s what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:

 “It’s helluva hard, isn’t it? You’re a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She’s my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours till bedtime.” And hopefully, every once in a while, I’ll add- “Let me pick up that grocery bill for ya, sister. Go put those kids in the van and pull on up- I’ll have them bring your groceries out.”

Anyway. Clearly, Carpe Diem doesn’t work for me.I can’t even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.

Here’s what does work for me:

There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time, it’s staring down the clock till bedtime time, it’s ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it’s four screaming minutes in time out time, it’s two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.

Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. Kairos is those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day, and I cherish them.

Like when I actually stop what I’m doing and really look at Tish. I notice how perfectly smooth and brownish her skin is.  I notice the perfect curves of her teeny elf mouth and her asianish brown eyes, and I breathe in her soft Tishy smell. In these moments, I see that her mouth is moving but I can’t hear her because all I can think is – This is the first time I’ve really seen Tish all day, and my God – she is so beautiful. Kairos.

Like when I’m stuck in chronos time in the grocery line and I’m haggard and annoyed and angry at the slow check-out clerk. And then I look at my cart and I’m transported out of chronos. And suddenly I notice the piles of healthy food I’ll feed my children to grow their bodies and minds and I remember that most of the world’s mamas would kill for this opportunity. This chance to stand in a grocery line with enough money to pay. And I just stare at my cart. At the abundance. The bounty. Thank you, God. Kairos.

Or when I curl up in my cozy bed with Theo asleep at my feet and Craig asleep by my side and I listen to  them both breathing. And for a moment, I think- how did a girl like me get so lucky? To go to bed each night surrounded by this breath, this love, this peace, this warmth? Kairos.

These kairos moments leave as fast as they come- but I mark them. I say the word kairos in my head each time I leave chronos. And at the end of the day, I don’t remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.

If I had a couple Kairos moments during the day, I call it a success.

Carpe a couple of Kairoses a day.

Good enough for me.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  2,432 Responses to “2011 Lesson #2 : Don’t Carpe Diem”

  1. I needed this…reading your book now…you seem to have this window into my thought and mind life…the place that I’ve always held back because in my family you just dont go there. I’m so grateful for the journey of freedom I’m on and that God placed your words perfectly in my timeline. Carry On, Warrior…God is writing a beautiful thing through you!!!

  2. I have never commented on this blog, but have shared in on my facebook page a couple of times in the past 2 years. After having someone tell me to enjoy this time not once, not twice, but three times today, I can’t get it off my mind. I love this post and at the risk of being dramatic, it has changed my life. I think of it in times of frustrations (hello, legos!?!?!) and always think of it when I have that magical moment when time feels like it has stopped. A little funny.. I couldn’t remember the title, so I googled, “Mom Blog Toddler peeing in Target”. And there it was. I heart the Google. Thank you for these words.

  3. I really needed this today! Thanks for sharing and your honesty…..now I feel like I’m not alone!

  4. This is my favorite blog post of all time. Literally. I read this a few years ago and have shared it with friends and cherished it ever since. Sometimes when I have a rough day I will refer to this post because it has such a great message, especially when your in the throws of raising young kiddos. Thank you, Glennon, for your wonderful perspective.

  5. I loved this. Funnily enough, though, now that *my* four are getting so much older I keep having to bite my tongue every time *I* want to tell a mom to “carpe diem” — I see both sides now :)

    But thank you!! When you’re in that moment, the *last* thing you need is for someone to tell you to enjoy every second…

    I’ll try to remember that. …but they grow up so fast!

  6. It’s not fun to learn new things. And parenting constantly presents you with new things to learn. For example how to negotiate the feather clips out of tots hair without a major meltdown or loosen a grip on a pen without losing it. It’s also not fun to lose at sports no matter how good a time the adults think you are having. (sorry, I digress)
    I loathed being told to enjoy every minute of my son’s life. It just wasn’t that riveting 24/7. Many times it was flat out mundane.
    I do want to warn you that the Carpe Diem cry was at it loudest last year when my son was a senior in highschool. I wish I could share a pithy comeback but the best I ever managed was a smile or a grimace and half-hearted agreement.

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  8. Thank you for giving me permission to enjoy having parented while struggling with the day to day task of parenting. While my husband and I have two children of our own (aged 10 and 7) we are also parenting 12 teenagers aged 14-17. While we do a lot of laughing and dancing, there are also many tears and even temper-tantrums, late nights and too early mornings and exhausting afternoons! Thank you for reminding me to seize the Kairos moments. And while I truly do enjoy having parented, there is a moment of joy at the end of the day when all are sleeping! :)

  9. […] end, it the fact that the human spirit will cause people to actually ride this wave. Incredible.4. Lesson #2: Don’t Carpe Diem. One thing that i can say about this post is that this is how I have lived my life. It puts it into […]

  10. […] And, you know what, there are lots of amazing mom blogs out there commending the mom who is in the trenches with small children and working hard.  One of my favorites tells these moms to “Carry On, Warrior” and talks of a kid peeing in a corner. […]

  11. […] Imagine your child is throwing a holy terror fit because he is possessed by the kind of demon that only comes out by prayer and fasting.  Imagine he is screaming, kicking, gagging, sweating, and very, very red.  Now, imagine that you are in Barnes & Noble, a traditionally quiet establishment.  Imagine that you are dragging your demon out by his arm, at great risk to his tiny shoulder socket, as he flails/gags/kicks/screams behind you.  Imagine that you are visibly sweating through your clothing, and that your mommy muffin-top is poked out because you have another baby on your hip.  The small baby has his arm shoved down between your breasts, exposing your bra to the patrons of Barnes & Noble.  Don’t worry, EVERYONE IS LOOKING.  Imagine that as you drag your noisy, paralyzed demon, that you can hear the other patrons talking amongst themselves about you and your “parenting style,” and that their opinions are neither kind nor empathetic.   Now – are you embarrassed by this?  Yes?  Your pride will be the death of you.  No?  Congratulations, you have achieved Zen parenting.  Drag that demon out as calmly as Linus dragging his blue blanket.  Carry on, warrior. […]

  12. […] the soundtrack of Frozen inside my busy brain. But every so often, I manage one of those brilliant “Kairos moments” (thank you, Glennon) in which I am able to quietly absorb the magnitude of how beautiful my […]

  13. […] her. BONUS! You’ll also feel less crazy and alone. She’s magic like that. Meet Glennon Don’t Carpe Diem For Maggie, Who Lost Her Lobster  Whack-A-Mole             […]

  14. […] But the concept of time for a new mother is its own very special thing.  This post was inspired by a blog I came across early in  my mothering years, that gave me the permission slip I needed to retire my heavy load of mother guilt.  The guilt that there are some parts of parenthood that I don’t like, and that in fact, I find just plain exhausting.   Glennon Doyle Melton captures it here perfectly with her breakdown of Chronos time–the hard concept of 60 seconds in a minute time, and Kairos time–the magical moments where time stands still and we experience a moment outside of father time’s relentless forward march.  You’re in for a treat if you’d like to read her full post here: Don’t Carpe Diem […]

  15. […] The “seize the moment” article from Facebook had me thinking. […]

  16. […] the massively popular blog, Momastery. Glennon Doyle Melton first drew attention when her blog post Don’t Carpe Diem went viral. Many friends and I loved that post, and I continue to draw encouragement from her […]

  17. Thank you for your hontesty, so refreshing and just what I needed tonight.

  18. Thank you. Just – thank you.
    Also – you are funny :)

  19. […] a fresh take on enjoying each day, I love Glennon Doyle Melton’s Don’t Carpe Diem. I encourage you to read it the whole way through, as she has some truly beautiful insights towards […]

  20. […] am grateful for those 5 unexpected minutes of time.  This is what I would call my Kairos Time.  I guess you still have those no matter what age your children […]

  21. […] Messy, Beautiful Warriors project on her blog, Momastery. The very first post I ever read there was this one. So I’ve kept in touch with […]

  22. […] time finding our groove again after all the busyness and late nights of the Christmas holidays. The ‘don’t carpe diem’ blog post that was making it’s way around the internet was on my mind a […]

  23. […] In the words of my favorite blogger Glennon Melton from her book Carry on Warrior “Carpe a couple kairoses a day. Good enough for me.” […]

  24. […] One day I will be in her shoes. I cannot stop time. I too, will one day be 12 weeks away from my oldest child going off to college. As a mom, I’d like to believe I am making the most of my time with my kids each day, but as the popular blogger Glennon Doyle Melton wrote,“I can’t even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.” […]

  25. Yes, yes and yes to everything you’ve said! I think you’ve explained it perfectly.

  26. […] thinking it wasn’t a coincidence that I shared Glennon Martin’s post Don’t Carpe Diem with my hubby last night. Turns out I needed that perspective […]

  27. […] -An oldie, but a goody. If you are or ever have been a mom to littles, I recommend this post by Glennon at Momastery  on why we shouldn’t “carpe diem” […]

  28. […] post then led me to this post on Momastery, where those fleeting childhood moments discussed above are broken down so well. Glennon discusses […]

  29. This is exactly what I needed to read. I just wrote a blog about this exact same thing — how I don’t “soak up all the moments I have while they’re young” and am feeling incredibly guilty about it. After I posted it, I was immediately riddled with self-doubt. WHAT IF I’m the ONLY one that feels this way? What if everyone reads this and thinks, “Good gosh, she should probably exchange her kids for some pet fish…”? But then the comments eventually came.. two of them leading me here. So thankful that you have written these words. I feel normal. For once. Well, maybe not normal. But at least a part of a really cool club.

  30. I love you. I have four kids and they are now older- 19, 16, 14, and 11. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t love my life, but knowing that there are people in the world who are willing to acknowledge the REALNESS of life helps me understand that it’s not only OK but it’s REAL to scream when your three-year-old runs from you in a Target parking lot and narrowly misses getting hit by a car while you watch helplessly because you have to maintain your hold on the shopping cart that contains your 6-year-old and 10-month old. I will NEVER forget that moment and the woman who chastised ME for yelling at my child. It was that experience that taught me to help other moms instead of judge them. When I’m in the store now and I see a mom having an abyss moment (my term) I just tell her that I’m rooting for her and offer help if it looks like she needs it. Thanks again.

    • Thank you!! Just, thank you so much for this particular comment. I pray (as a mom of 4 boys, ages 8, 6, 3, and 10 months) that I will one day respond in this same way!

  31. Always come back to this post… it keeps me centered.. Thank you!

  32. […] a breath of fresh air and I’m so thankful for my friend Cynthia for sharing her post “Don’t Carpe Diem” with me back in 2011. I’ve enjoyed her blog ever […]

  33. […] blog friend Lizzi asked me a while back what my most recent Kairos moment was.  The thought process that ensued reminded me you simply can’t seize and love and […]

  34. […] of my favourite Glennon Doyle Melton essays is Don’t Carpe Diem because, yes, in this season of life, I can carpe the moments, but can not carpe the whole flipping […]

  35. […] 4. What was your last ‘kairos moment’? […]

  36. […] some really great blogs lately. I’m talking, incredibly thought-provoking, insightful, even life-changing stuff. Reading these excellent posts often makes my mind reel, almost depressing me into thinking, […]

  37. […] got this one wrong. He is like me. A lot like me, actually. In one of her most famous posts, “Don’t Carpe Diem,” mommy blogger Glennon Doyle Melton writes, “There was a famous writer who, when asked if she […]

  38. This is a WONDERFUL post! Thank you for sharing! As a mother of a 14 year old I have actually found myself telling my friends to soak in all this time they have with their toddlers. Then the next day I am venting about how hard it still is, how hard it is to raise a teenager. I think raising children is a lot like labor. It was freaking painful and a lot of hard work, but when we walk away, or at least a few months later, we no longer really remember the pain. We take away the moments of bliss or as you call them the kairos times. Those are the moments as we get older and our children grow up that stick around. Because yes all that hard work, made those moments so much sweeter. Those are the moments when we are 80 and see young mothers with their kids that flood our hearts. Even now I think back and wonder why was I so hard on myself as a mother when my son was young. In that lies the key, there is sooo much pressure to be an amazing mother and we women put the most pressure on ourselves. That perhaps we don’t understand until it’s all whizzed by, that take a break, relax, don’t be so hard on yourself and enjoy a sticky faced kid, if dinners late it will be OK. I can say this now after 14 years and looking back. It’s one of those moments, if my older self could write a letter to my younger self. Yet on the other hand, I wouldn’t take anything back. Those were my lessons to learn, my hardships to make me a stronger/wiser mother in the future. And those are now my treasured memories. When I was rushing out the door after giving my son his feeding that he needed every two hours. I had exactly just enough time to feed, change and try to get a few errands done before he needed to eat again (I had not yet mastered nursing in public), when he poops all over me and the two hour window had to start all over again. In that moment, I wanted to cry, now I look back on it and smile. Not because I seized any moment, but because, as you say, I am glad I “parented”. So keep it going moms and dads. It’s not easy but it’s rewarding, life changing and full of life lessons. Instead of carpe diem, I say…Don’t be your worst critic, everything does work out, it’s OK to say I have had enough today, you will wake up the next morning renewed for another day. The time is brief and one day you may look back and wonder why you got all worked up over sticky fingers, or dishes in the sink.

  39. […] a collection of Glennon Melton’s brutal, honest, full-of-love blog posts (the best one is here). I want to meet her, and give her a giant hug, and thank her for saying wise and brave stuff on […]

  40. […] Don’t Carpe Diem by Glennon Melton at Momastery. This is a must read for EVERY mom out there. Please read it! I know […]

  41. […] I find a very good article here which I can relate very well too, and I’m glad for those articles written by honest godly mom […]

  42. Thank you! I am a new mama and I am overwelmed by the feelings of exhaustion, guilt, self doubt mixed with delight, love and devotion. This is so validating!

  43. […] was your last ‘kairos moment’? As Fate would have it, my last kairos moment was just this morning.  I took a break from writing […]

  44. […] What was your last ‘kairos moment’? <<That was a powerful post, first of all. I love Momastery. My last Kairos moment would […]

  45. I read this a number of years ago and just had to do a search to find it again. I just wanted to let you know that it had quite an impact on me. Having twins has been a trying experience, and the anxiety that I felt from ‘not enjoying every moment’ was overwhelming. Thank you for providing me with so much relief over the past number of years!

    The twins are almost 7 now, and I needed to find this post again to send to a friend, who really needs the sentiment. You help more than you know.

    Thank you.

  46. […] Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. Kairos is those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day, and I cherish them. – “Don’t Carpe Diem” Momastery.com […]

  47. […] then yesterday as I was driving home from my daughter getting a shot, I remembered this blog post by Momastery where she speaks to the message we moms often get to “enjoy every moment”…. […]

  48. This is so totally how I feel. I hate that I feel so guilty all the time because I don’t love most of the seconds in the day. And I feel horrible that my favorite seconds are the ones at naptime and when my son is in bed for the night. I loathe the well intentioned old ladies in the grocery store because they make me feel like the crappiest mom ever. Thanks for being so open and honest about this subject.

  49. […] I’ve been following Glennon’s momastery blog religiously ever since I read her post, Don’t Carpe Diem. […]

  50. […] chronicles the ups and downs of being a wife and mother.  One of her most famous essays is “Don’t Carpe Diem“, in which she describes the pressure placed on parents to enjoy every single moment of […]

  51. […] I’ll have these moments when I doubt I’ve carpe diemed enough, when the mother-guilts spring up and tell me that because those early days are fading in my […]

  52. I desperately needed to read this today after the horrendous day I had with my 3 little angels :) and I despise that comment more than anything when people say to not every moment. They clearly forgot what it was like living in it! I appreciate our honesty and it has made me feel better about myself as a parent today!

  53. […] (Just in case you’ve never read it, this is as good a chance as any to share Glennon Doyle Melton’s “Don’t Carpe Diem.”) […]

  54. […] of years ago a lovely and talented woman named Glennon Melton wrote a blog post titled “Don’t Carpe Diem.” It went wild on the internet and led to a published book, ongoing speaking engagements, and […]

  55. […] moment, it goes by so fast”. In fact, I’ve been known to share articles on FB like this one and this one that talk about how HARD it is, and how it is impossible to enjoy every moment. In […]

  56. […] I was there (momastery.com) I found another interesting and honest post about enjoying mothering vs. enjoying having […]

  57. […] so dad-gum honest, and I love that. In one of the more well-known chapters entitled “Don’t Carpe Diem,” which went viral on her blog, she recognizes the absurdity of insisting that mothers try to […]

  58. […] Addendum: My first commenter included this link by nationally recognized writer and speaker Glennen Doyle Melton, a post on her site Momastery.com. […]

  59. […] read some of Momastery’s blog posts. You may have too. Remember Don’t Carpe Diem? Moms everywhere breathed a collective sigh of relief after reading that post. Then they possibly […]

  60. Beautiful & beautifully written. And also hilarious & freeing! Thanks for sharing your gift for writing & your beautiful, yet honest perspective with us!!!

  61. Thank you so much! I needed to hear that!

  62. [...] read and re-read Glennon’s post about seizing the day and how overwhelming that is for a mom of young kids to expect to do that [...]

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