Don’t carpe diem – do you? or don’t you?

A response to Glennon Melton’s Don’t Carpe Diem on the Huffington Post.


carpe diem in motherhood do you or dont you

Don’t Carpe Diem. You’ve probably seen it floating around the internet through blogs and facebook and twitter by now. It’s been posted and reposted, hailed and hated. Iinitially I wasn’t going to add my voice to the multitudes, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot and perhaps you have too.

Here is the crux of Melton’s Don’t Carpe Diem:

“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… Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.”

No doubt every mom (or parent) can relate to these sentiments on one level or another.

Hello, we are human.

If we were perpetually living in a state of bliss there would be no need for anything beyond, anything higher. (Heaven, anyone?)

And self-imposed pressure of that nature inevitably leads to mommy-guilt, the enemy of every mom (or parent) trying her best to survive and thrive in the trenches.

Not only does mommy-guilt deprive us of the moment, but it prevents us of having perspective for the big picture.

Chronos vs kairos time.

Toward the end of her post Melton starts talking Greek. Literally.

She explains the difference bettwen chronos time and kairos time – chronos being the clock-moving, seconds-ticking time, and kairos being God-time, metaphysical time, the oh-this-moment-is-special-let’s-savor-it time.

I couldn’t agree more that there is a difference between those two types of “times” and that the difference is profound.

There are inevitably moments in my day where I want to speed through time (chronos):

Please hold still while I wrangle this diaper on you.

Please stop crying long enough for me to remember where I last had my phone.

Please stop clinging to me so I can get dinner in the oven.

Please think of a new question that I haven’t already answered 347 times today.

But I also know that if I try and speed through all the less-than-desireable parts of my day, I will be robbed of learning to live my “normal” life well.

Because life doesn’t stand still while we wait for those magic moments to appear.

And yet those magic moments? I’m convinced they don’t have to be few and far between if we can only train ourselves to recognize them more.

Recognizing the magic (kairos) moments is easier for some than others.

Recently I was reading a post on someone’s blog. She was talking about another (famous) blogger who is a very positive glass-half-full sort-of person. The famous blogger fills her posts with beauty and celebration as she details the ways she enjoys imagination, spontenaety, adventure, and creative play with her kids. The writer of this post shared how reading the blog annoyed her because surely this lady was putting it all on. Surely she was exaggerating. Surely life wasn’t always that good. Surely she wasn’t always that happy.

It made me sad to read that post, for many reasons. But here’s my main reason:

We are bombarded with images and stories and statistics all the time detailing the things gone wrong in our world: abuse, addictions, violence, financial ruin, job loss, natural disasters, family and relational breakdown, human trafficking, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, poverty, disease…

The list is far too long and far too heartbreaking.

So when I read of someone making a life out of Carpe Diem-ing, it make me think: Wow. How refreshing to see someone deliberately pointing out the small things and commemorating the extrodinary among the ordinary bits of life.

Someone like that doesn’t annoy me, they inspire me.

Because as much as I have my I-want-to-fast-forward-through-this-tantrum moments, I also realize that even the tantrums serve a purpose – not just for my child, but for me.

And I don’t want to miss the bigger picture because I’m merely tolerating the repetitive or challenging parts of my days.

get the Don’t Carpe Diem thing.

Really, I do.

Life can be hard and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up or feel guilty for not living on cloud nine in a perpetual state of extacy. Especially when it comes to our parenting.

But I don’t fully agree with the Don’t Carpe Diem thing either.

Because when I’m trying to console a crying baby in one arm and make dinner with the other… when I’m pulling over the car to deal with a melt-down in the back seat… when I’m pouring over my bank account trying to find a way to make all the ends meet… when I’m in over my head with commitments and obligations… when I’m delicately trying to see a relationship mended… when I’m praying for answers or healing or breakthrough but am not seeing answers… when I would give anything just to sleep until 9:00am or have an hour to myself…

Those are the moments that I need Carpe Diem. Those are the moments when I need to remember that life is good and it is fleeting and it does all work out well in the long run.

I need Carpe Diem to pull me through.

I need Carpe Diem to remind me that it’s all worth it.

I need Carpe Diem to help me stay focused on the big picture… that happens in many small moments.

Like most of us, I want to be the type of person that is growing in my awareness of the moment, of enjoying it, of savoring it so that I don’t get to the end of my days and wonder what if I paid more attention?

Carpe Diem without the guilt.

As much as I need Carpe Diem, I’ve also got to figure out how to Carpe Diem in a way that doesn’t leave me feeling guilty or defeated or diminished because it’s impossible to live it out every single (chronos) moment.

It’s my responsibility – no one else’s – to make sure that I don’t get caught in my own guilt trap. No one can do that for me.

So I say, Carpe Diem!

Learn to live in the moment! Learn to cherish the ordinary! Learn to see value in the mundane!

And in the spirit of Carpe Diem…

I also say, leave your self-induced guilt trip at the door!

Leave behind your undue pressures and unrealistic expectations and self-doubt.

We were made for this friends – made to seize the moment… to live on purpose… to live well

In the magic moments… and the normal ones too.

seizing the moment - carpe diem - in motherhood.

Dear friends, I love Melton’s post and her courage and compassion to write about something so important, even though I disagree with parts of it (and whole-heartedly agree with other parts!). What do you think? Carpe Diem? Or don’t?


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  • Stephanie
    25 January 2012 at 10:48 pm

    I read that article and probably will read it again a few times before I fully know how I agree or disagree with her. It was a great article though. I often have trouble slowing down enough to catch those small, precious moments. I am working on it though 🙂
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  • Laura
    26 January 2012 at 12:05 am

    I think that as a mother, there are inevitably times where you want to speed through time (who actually wants to listen to their kid cry for a minute longer?) but children grow oh so fast, and even the attempt to hold on to each moment is better than just letting it pass you by. I think it’s impossible for us to capture each and every moment. But what’s wrong with trying? To find that gem of satisfaction and enjoyment in parenting is what fuels me during those tantrums, during those chaotic hours between 4 and 6 o’clock when my husband comes home and whisks G off to play so I can finish getting dinner ready without her using my pantry as her “new home” or trying to sweep literally, under my feet. I agree with the end of her article; to find a few kairos each day and enjoy them; I just also think that trying to enjoy each and every moment you can is right too.

  • Krystle
    26 January 2012 at 1:29 am

    You said exactly what I was feeling. People on my FB were reposting this like mad and I just didn’t get it.
    I didn’t gel with it…but this…this is what I feel too. So thank you for putting words to my thoughts and doing a much better job than I would have done haha!
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    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      26 January 2012 at 10:12 am

      I think one of the things she does a great job doing in the article is affirming that motherhood is challenging and it’s not all “fun” and “magical”. There ARE difficult parts and to deny that is just a little crazy. I think lots of moms put so much pressure on themselves that hearing someone say “it’s ok that things are hard sometimes and that being a mom can be tough” is really validating. I get that. But I also think it’s learning to seize the moment that helps give perspective when it is hard. So I agree with her, and disagree. 😉
      Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos recently interview with jessica wolstenholm, author of the pregnancy companion (and a giveaway)My Profile

  • Laura E
    26 January 2012 at 1:49 am

    Oh my word! I feel the same way. I was debating posting about this on my blog because I know I am one of those “glass half full” kind of people. I relish my baby crying in the night because I get to cuddle with him. I’m happy for a stinky diaper because it means we are healthy! Of course I totally resonate with the “oh my word I wish my child wasn’t screaming and crying on the floor in the middle of the grocery store” type scenarios but ultimately I really do love almost every single moment of being a mommy! It is such a gift!!

    I also try to remember that others may have a harder time at motherhood or a child that is harder to manage. I’m not sure how to effectively put myself in someone else’s shoes when it comes to this job because it is so unique for each person!

    Thanks for the post 🙂

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      26 January 2012 at 10:14 am

      I think you’re right – it’s hard to put ourselves in another’s shoes because each person is so different. I do think we (mothers) are more alike than different though, and we share common joys and trials.

      I’ve never met someone that relishes their baby crying in the night and likes stinky diapers though. You are truly unique!

      I certainly don’t like to be woken when I’m sleeping!!!! 😉
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  • Megan @ boho mama
    26 January 2012 at 2:57 am

    I agree with both you and Glennon. Depends on the day whether I am Carpe Diem-ing and not Carpe-Dieming! I think she wrote the article tongue in cheek, using humor to say “hey, it’s OK if everyday isn’t great,” so I didn’t take her too literally. I absolutely love being a mama, but it is totally harder than I thought it would be. Thanks for this!

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      26 January 2012 at 10:16 am

      Yes, I think you’re right. (And I really did love the article and how it was written!) I, too, agree and disagree… if that’s possible. 😉
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  • Rachel J.
    26 January 2012 at 7:21 am

    Well done, Adriel. 🙂 I had seen Glennon’s article too, and the image she presents of the cheerleaders on Mt. Everest made me laugh out loud…she’s right, some days we all lack the energy to sieze much of anything. But I also think that you are absolutely right that the key to this parenting stuff is perspective. There’s no doubt that parenting is the most tumultuous, self-sacrificing journey we’ll ever take, but it’s also the most WORTHWHILE. Each moment – both good and bad – is meant to mold and shape us. And I do feel guilty when I realize that I’ve lost that perspective…but like you said, we’re all human. And one day we’re going to be those old ladies in the store reminding the others that it all truly does go by too fast.

  • D
    27 January 2012 at 8:12 am

    Although for me its not about disagreeing or agreeing. That is her and obviously many other peoples parenting experience. Not mine. Instead of Mount Everest where you only look up occasionally and see those magical moments, I liken my parenting to skipping through a beautiful meadow and occasionally tripping on a rock. So mostly it is good. But I have a WHOLE different perspective. First, I was a special education teacher. I SAW GREAT HARDSHIP, like it would put any tantrum, pretty much anyones worse day to shame. Those parents are my heroes. They have to take care of their special needs child for the rest of their lives with medical equipment etc. I look at people in wheelchairs, missing body parts, whatever you name it and it and it just makes me realize how easy MY life is. Well how easy it is now. My son was born at 27 weeks premature and lived his entire life in a hospital. An entire year. Pretty much that felt like crawling, not climbing, naked up Mt Everest with no rope and never reaching the top. He came home on hospice and died in my arms. So now, my life with my daugher is a peice of cake(well not emotionally, I am still pretty devastated) but tantrums, 3 am wake ups, lack of sleep….to me and my expereience, is nothing, a drop in the bucket. I think people just think their lives are hard because they have nothing to compare it to, except for their lives before kids, so they think having kids is hard. But boy oh boy if they lived a whole year with their child in the hospital, with what that entails, I am sure they wouldnt sweat the long line in target, or meltdowns etc because they would realize how easy that is COMPARED to how hard having a terminally ill child is. But I try not to judge because I know that most people just have no idea what that is like so it feels like their lives are hard I guess. Thanks for your perspective.

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      27 January 2012 at 4:14 pm

      Thanks for sharing your perspective D. I love your analogy about the field and tripping on a rock every now and then. I can relate to that much more than to climbing Mt Everest, that’s for sure! Your experiences (both at work and with your own son) have certainly given you a take on life that most of us wouldn’t have. I think it’s so important that you share – it helps keep us all in line and give perspective.

      But yes, you can’t compare. I’ve learned that what is difficult for me may not be for the next person, as much as their difficulty might seem like “no big deal” to me. But we each have our own “normal”, right? I hope that as parents we can hear from those who’ve endured more hardship than we have and use that to give us a little more perspective and gratitude for our own journey.

      Thanks again for sharing. Love your point of view, and I’m so, so sorry for your loss.
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  • Branson
    27 January 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Girl, I love this post! Especially this line:

    “And yet those magic moments? I’m convinced they don’t have to be few and far between if we can only train ourselves to recognize them more.”

    I am with you on this one. Yes, we should be careful not to pressure ourselves or feel guilty, but I honestly feel like my life is magical when I try to live each moment. Does it drive me CRAZY when A refuses to keep his diaper on? Yes. Do I take a moment to remind myself how he is growing into his own little person when he does it and let myself laugh at his antics? Usually! If we don’t find the humor in the difficult times, they are just that much harder. And I make an effort to live each day as fully as possible no matter what. Some days I fail miserably, but at least I try.
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  • Kirstin Mitton
    2 February 2012 at 3:25 am

    Love love LOVE this!!! 🙂 I just couldn’t relate to that blog post. I made that statement to someone and they all but jumped down my throat saying that “They are a better mother because they are realistic…” I know everyone travels different paths in life and has different experiences to bring them to their beliefs or attitudes and what not. Long story short: I am a Mom of almost 6 children. My oldest is blind and multiply handicapped. He cannot walk, requires multiple medications daily, among other things. We have had to overcome quite a few obstacles and will do that for the rest of our lives. Fast forward to baby #4 we had..he came emergency c section at 29 weeks because he was trying to die. He spent 9 weeks in the NICU, had blood transfusions,a grade 3 brain bleed, developed hydrocephalus, was thought to need a shunt in his head, and had a 50% chance of having cerebral palsy. Today he is a typical 3 year old with no lasting complications. We have spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours in the hospitals between our 2 boys. I have watched my oldest son be life flighted….we loathe pity. We use these experiences to live life to the fullest, be so grateful for everyday and to grow and parents and people. We have to be more realistic than a lot of people might realize. We have our bad days with a family of 7 (almost 8) of course…BUT we try and Carpe Diem the CRAP out of things as much as possible. Life is just so much more enjoyable that way. I love how your post was written. It’s how I felt about the original post. SO I thank you for putting what I was feeling and thinking into such a well written piece. 🙂

    • Kirstin Mitton
      2 February 2012 at 3:36 am

      Oops, had a few mistakes in that comment haha! But you get the jist?

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