Jun 072013

Yesterday morning, Chase and I went for a bike ride before the girls woke up. We parked our bikes near a pond, sat quietly near the water, and watched the world wake up. About five minutes into the delicious silence, Chase said, “Mom? I think we’re Carpe Diem-ing.”

I laughed and said, “Yep, I think we are, too.”

Chase looked up at the sky and said, “Don’t worry mom. We don’t have to keep doing it all day.”

That’s my BOY. Love that little man. He knows- everything in moderation. Including living in the moment.

Since I’m still recovering (hiding) from the Ted Talk hoopla – I thought maybe you’d like reading Don’t Carpe Diem today. It always reminds me that the way things are is just FINE.

So much love-


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 everysecond, etc, etc, etc.

know that this message is right and good. But as 2011 closes, I have finally allowed myself to admit thatit 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’dbe 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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  59 Responses to “Carpe Kairos!”

  1. […] read this most enlightening blog post by Momastery.  Carpe diem sucks.  I don’t want to seize the day…at least not every moment of all […]

  2. […] good health.  Throughout this period, I’ve been reminded of the wisdom of Glennon Melton’s concept of carpe kairos (appreciating moments, rather than days) when raising young […]

  3. […] you ever read Glennon Melton’s essay, “Carpe Kairos!“? It’s one of the best things I have ever read related to motherhood, and this is my […]

  4. Thank you for this post. I have 3 year old twins and a daughter who will be 7 on Saturday. I have been feeling as though I’m failing them, all of them. Thank you for sharing this. I will focus on my Kairos moments more!

  5. A-to-the-MEN!

  6. i have beautiful snapshot memories like this. little stills that stick in my head of pictures never taken. perfect moments with friends and family and most importantly my children. i’ve never really thought of time in this way before, but it does ring true. there’s these moments that out of time, collect into a brilliant life. if we were the sum of these moments entirely, what would the world be like?

  7. We have 6 living children and 5 in heaven … our 6th living child is named Kairos … he came after years of loss … his pregnancy was draining and dangerous … but I learned so much about letting go of what “made sense to my human mind” and just trusting God … early on in his pregnancy I read a definition for Kairos: “The appointed time in the purpose of God. The time when God acts.” It certainly fit what we were going through … and I am so much better now at appreciating these Kairos moments. The daily crazy child raising, teaching, housecleaning, chauffeuring all still has to happen on a chronos time table … but I am much better at seeing my Kairos moments thanks to my 6th baby… such a gift!

  8. […] check out here 25 before 25 post (yes, she is under 25! Aaaah! Baby! Love it! XO)favorite blog post:Carpe Kairos! from Momasteryfavorite pin:favorite snack:I had the distinct pleasure of enjoying TWO cupcakes from Crumbs this […]

  9. […] And then you can be refreshed and set free from guilt as you read her take on Carpe Diem. […]

  10. […] Be me. Treat my family the best I can and live each day. Carpe Kairos. (Read what that means HERE) Glennon helped show me that life is a giant clusterfuck and we simply survive. How you survive and […]

  11. G – Did you see this article a couple weeks ago? Its fab.

  12. I LOVE this post. Such a clear description of what I tend to think in my head when someone tells me to “savor every moment.” I like the humor and the down-to-earth-ness of this post. Thank you!

  13. I absolutely love the way you wrote about this. You summed it up brilliantly. I’m not lying when I say if I had a dime every time someone told me to “enjoy these moments” when they encountered my 2 young children, I’d be a rich lady…..thank you for bringing these feelings to the open and for making me not feel so alone when I feel grumpy and tired when others are telling me to enjoy myself every second……xo

  14. Love Love this :)
    And as for adding more kids to the mix… I say Go For It sweet girl!… the Grace always comes when its needed; never before. Besides, welcoming Life has a way of stretching us Uncomfortably-Better than what we were before. At least for me each new life embraced has helped me to let go of control a little more and enter into Trust a little deeper.
    Thank you for doing what you do, but MOSTLY for BEing who you are. :)
    Greatly Appreciated!
    Carry On…

  15. So needed and loved this post (and Lisa-Jo’s). I know it’s TMI, but I read it on the potty with the sound of my 3 kids making their lunch in the background. I will likely get no other “me” time until just before 10pm. THANKS for the encouragement and honesty!

  16. What a fine boy. He is going to grow up with so much compassion and understanding.

  17. Oh I love that idea. Kairos. And what I love almost more is that at the end of the day you don’t have to remember what they were. It’s not about hanging on and not letting go. It’s just appreciating the moment in the moment, and then moving on, knowing you had it. Knowing you had a Karios moment. Beautiful.

  18. Oh, it’s can be a lot of annoying, sentimental claptrap. My only child is 18 and will graduate from high school this week. Regrets? Anybody who says they have none is either lying or insensate. I have not enjoyed every moment of parenting, and there are a LOT of things I’d do differently. I DO feel intense joy and love in my son, and in the journey we’ve taken together. But you know what the BEST THING is? The best thing is that moms are allowed to have DIFFERING VIEWS, sharp disagreements even, and all those views are equally worthy and equally meritorious. You enjoy your motherhood journey in the way that suits you best, and make sure it’s YOURS. There’s plenty of time for frothy, blathering sentiment; and there’s plenty of time to roll your eyes and wish to h*ll they were out the door. Don’t let the Mommier-than-thou crowd make you feel bad if your exasperation shows. Exasperation and impatience make you appreciate all the sweet moments even more.

  19. I had a wonderful Kairos moment on the crowded bus today with my son . . .craziness all around and he, at age 7, was snuggled on my lap and we were able to forget where we were for just few minutes. Then someone started yelling and someone else playing music too loud and we were back.

  20. This post should be made into a poster. I would frame it in my house. Yesterday I was at home with my 2 demons…uhh…I mean kids, and I tweeted a couple comments about it and suddenly got an email from my mom, sending me the oh-so-useful advice that I should enjoy their demonic shenanigans because “they grow up so fast”. Ugh. I responded back to her that when my brother and I were young and making her pull her hair out (which I KNOW we did) I’m sure it would have made her feel better to hear those words. Not sure why I didn’t get any response….but I immediately thought of this post and now here it is! Thanks for making it known that it’s ok for me to love them but not love every moment with them.

  21. I will love this post forever, and never get tired of reading it, or, (most likely) stop needing to read it. :) Just keep reposting it every once in a while as a reminder. :)

  22. Thank you for this! I needed to hear it this week!

  23. I so needed to hear this today. Thanks. And, I’ll admit I want to throw the old lady off the mountain… like, right now. I won’t cherish the tantrums, I won’t cherish the sleeplessness and I won’t forever want my child to curl up with me in bed. BUT, I will always cherish my boys, wherever they are in life.

  24. G – Acknowledging and appreciating those kairos moments every day has changed me – both as a mom and a person. Thank you.

  25. Still one of my faves. This was the post shared with me on FB back in January 2012. The post that started it all, and kicked off my Monkeedom!! Thanks so much, G :-)

  26. Wow, I needed this. I have a four-month-old, my first, and I’m working full-time and wishing to goodness I’m not. I feel like I’m missing so much important stuff, but then when I have a day with her, the minutes drag. Thank you for helping alleviate my guilt and releasing me to enjoy the kairos.

  27. This was the first post I ever read of yours and it came at a time when I really needed to hear this! It’s still my favorite post ever!

  28. One of the best posts ever. <3

  29. Thanks for reposting G. It made me smile :) It was funnier than I remembered!

  30. this is one of my favorite posts by far! i’m having my own carpe cairos! Decided to take the leap and become a consultant for Arbonne and I’m not looking back! I will succeed! thank you for being an inspiration!

    • Fabulous for you…15,000 women at GTC can’t be wrong, and I hear so many young mothers sooo happy to have the opportunity to spend more quality time through the gift of Arbonne. None of us who have older children ever enjoyed “every moment”…( seriously? whose brain is that damaged to think they ever enjoyed EVERY minute?!) but, what DOES happen is that as we now stand on the other side of that walk, kids grown and independent, many of us tell one another “I just want one hour, just one day again with my (name your favorite age)…to hold her, smell her, rock her to sleep, see the world through her eyes”…in a flash, it really is gone, there is no going back…but if we have brailed those moments well, we can go there again in our minds. And maybe that is what we SHOULD say “I would give anything to have just one hour, again”. I applaud you your choice…your lifestyle has the potential to change in amazing ways…and may your success bring other mothers home from the rat race…

  31. Amen – simply amen! Love reading what you write, true and honest. You write what “real” moms feel. Life was never meant to be “easy”, it’s life. The perfect family down the lane – may look great on the outside, but no one really knows what goes on inside of that “Hallmark Perfect family”. Nor should they. So happy for the close female friends I have collected through the years, they keep me balanced, and writers like yourself who remind us life is “real” and it’s okay not to be “happy” all the time. Enjoy the little moments that keep you sane, and let go of the ones that don’t for tomorrow is another day of endless joy and wonder. My favorite line while raising four kids was “I think I should have raised goldfish”. Also, I put my running shoes by the front door, to let my children and husband know when I have reached my limit, and everyone should find a corner to hide in and or help out to relieve some of the pressure. For if they don’t mom will quit and runaway from home! Thanks again for voicing how real moms feel! Teresa

  32. Looking forward to seeing you in Atlanta. I do mean “seeing” because I too am an INTROVERT who also hears “you couldn’t be an introvert, you are so gregarious.” What we are, and what we do, are two different things. Can you spell D-R-A-I-N-I-N-G???

    One less person to physically hug will get you back to your hotel and the solitude of a long, hot bath all by yourself, a few minutes earlier. Take care of yourself

  33. I think this is one of my very favorites.

    You are lovely, G. Don’t ever let anyone dampen your beautiful spirit.

    Much love,

  34. This is the best chapter from your book! My kids are 23 and 20, and I sure wish your book was around then. Such insight, and you have a gift for storytelling.

    • Yes – I wish I had this 20 years ago, too. I can remember a few Kairos moments, but I wish I had been more attuned to them at the time. I miss them desperately now.

  35. Gonna live today eyes & heart wide open looking for those Kairos moments.
    Thanks Glennon for that reminder :-)

  36. First time I’ve responded but read and enjoy your posts often. This post hit home with me, in a positive and powerful manner. I was diagnosed with an incurable heart condition 5 years ago. Most people with it live for 10 years max after their diagnosis so I am leering over the halfway mark. People tell me ALL THE TIME to embrace life, live the moment, remember what’s important, etc. While I understand (and sometimes even appreciate) they are trying to be positive and helpful, at other times it is all I can do to refrain from sharing the often ill-chosen words running through my brain. I can’t Carpe Diem every day, I’m too darn tired and overwhelmed. I smile, nod, and thank them for reminding me. I too have to embrace the Kairos, some days I only have energy for that. But those moments are beautiful to this mother. For that, I am thankful.

    • I think the world’s a better place because people like you are in it, Karen.

    • Oh Karen. I totally understand. I have cancer (have had it for 19 years now) and it’s one of those pesky ones that nobody knows diddly-squat about so every time we do something ‘new’ we all cross our fingers and hope for the best. It sucks and it’s frustrating!

      Those people that tell you to enjoy every moment? I think they are trying to help, but don’t know what else to say, because honestly if they were in our shoes they wouldn’t utter those words. I think they love us and are trying and that’s pretty awesome. Even though sometimes I mentally think about what I’d really like to say too when they tell us to “enjoy every moment”.

      It’s tough enjoying life when you are so tired, depressed, anxious, hurting and attempting to take it all in because you don’t know how long you have left. Dear goodness, I understand. I’ve got a 4 year old and every time I think that I may not be here to watch her grow up I go deeper into a depression. Plain old “it sucks” about sums it up.

      Karen, you will be in my thoughts and prayers. Continue to do what you do and just put one foot in front of the other…it’s ok to do that…I do.

      Much love honey.

      • Hi Angela – Thanks for reaching out. I know they are trying to help and I appreciate they care enough to try. Illness is just hard – for those of walking the path and those who walk beside us, unable to make it better. You are a warrior, facing illness and all that comes with it head-on. Warriors need prayers too and you will be in mine. Love to you!

    • Thank you, to both Karen and Angela, for commenting on this. I haven’t known someone in this your life place yet, but it’s certainly very possible I will in the future. I’m not at all sure I would have thought of this comparison to the way Glennon wrote it, but it makes so much sense.

      • We have commonalities – pain, loss, hardships, and joys – that unite us and remind us we really aren’t so different. We all just want to be understood. Part of that is learning about each person’s journey and sometimes that is uncomfortable for people. It is easier, or at least more PC, to say “focus on the positive” than “this really sucks.” Sometimes, at least for me, I would do better knowing that people understand and accept my reality. In seizing my moments, I come face to face with acknowledging this could be the last of these experiences.

    • You are in my heart and in my prayers. Hugs!

  37. God did I need to read this!! Awesome & perfect. Thank you G.

  38. This is why you’re one of my heroes, G. Sister on.

  39. Glennon I recently met you in Plymouth, MN when you spoke, and shared with you this post helped me through the “new mom” stage. I was a struggling stay at home mom who was surrounded by super-mom’s. I didn’t know if how I felt was normal until I found your post. Thank you once again. I just had my 2nd child (a month early) on 5/21, so this was a great reminder for me. Thanks for starting my day with a smile.

    (: Angie

  40. I have read this essay SO many times & it just never gets old. Right now the house is quiet, I am laying in bed with a warm cup of lemon ginger tea reading this post, it just doesn’t get any more Kairos than this! Thanks for the reminder G!

  41. So I hadn’t watched the Ted clip yet but used your link and watched in now. You were AWESOME! Carry on Warrior.

  42. I truly just love this piece. Every time I read it it resonates with me….

  43. L.O.V.E. When I read this post a couple of years ago, it changed the way I look at parenting. I have shared it with so many people, especially new mothers, and I have printed it to save to give to my children when they become parents. You speak perfectly to what the truth of parenting is – it’s hard and exhausting, but enjoying the few moments here an there is what it’s all about. THANK YOU.

  44. THIS is why I have the tattoo on my arm, G!! Love it!!

  45. Good for Chase – he has a wise head on his shoulders.

    And I hope you recover, recombobulate or whatever else, rapidly. I am still very thankful for all your hoopla :) Take care of you.

  46. Beautiful. Really need this reminder today as I struggle with some hard feelings and tough decisions. Thank you as always. Xx

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