Carpe-ing the Diem! Seize the Parenting Moments, Good or Bad (and Sleep)!

by Lisa Douglas
Chalk drawing + toddler + messy outfit

I got stuck on a blog post from Momastery the other day, being passed around Facebook in a congratulatory tone, motherly fists in the air in response, except it kind-of hit me the wrong way. I like the author’s style of writing, and I can certainly understand her points made, but I wasn’t particularly fond of her criticism of those who choose to Carpe Diem as being people who put undue pressure on themselves and others, absolutely having to find positivity in everything. What’s wrong with that mentality?

I choose to lead a “glass half-full” kind of life. Sure, you’ll see some rants and such here, but usually in a tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic manner, because my philosophy, both on this blog and in life is, “Find the humor in the joy in everything (especially diapers and laundry).” Why? Because it’s fleeting. Time stops for no one, and if you don’t live, fully, in each moment, bad, fantastic, or in between, you’re missing out. You’re skating through life. And sometimes, in those no-good, very bad moments, looking at it with a humorous tone, you can get through it, and maybe, just maybe, it isn’t so bad as you think it is after all? Or, even if it is that bad, maybe it helps you get through it? And your next moments are just that much more sweeter for it?

Take my last post for instance. It was a bad day. I chose to laugh and find humor at the fact that my day was completely out of whack. Sure, the Charley Horse was no picnic, and having one or both of my toddlers unintentionally kick me in the sore calf while we co-sleep at night is no fun, but damn it, I’m gonna miss co-sleeping with them. I fully admit I am on borrowed time. I’m going to miss their sleep-gymnastics, even if having to wake up at two-am to get my husband to help restructure my daughter, because she’s sleeping horizontally across the bed head on me/Baby Dude, and feet draped over my husbands neck like she’s Chuck Norris, ninja-kicking him.

I’m going to miss those sleep-gymnastics in the next few months, because, with her acrobatics, she’s going to have to move to a big girl bed full time when the baby’s born and in bed with us. She’s spent five years in bed with us, cuddling us, and those seconds are ticking away closer to the day when that’s not the case anymore.

With interrupted sleep or no, I am Carpe-ing the Diem out of this crazy sleep time right now.

Chalky-outfitted toddler + washing the cars + wet rag = fun! And getting clean! (Hey, whatever works, right?!)
Carpe Diem! 🙂

Speaking of sleep, this morning I awoke with the alarm, a little sluggishly, to the unsuspected surprise of having forgotten to make my coffee in advance the night before. Peering through the slits in my eyes, measuring out coffee I undoubtedly spilled accidentally on the countertop, I was able to get the kids out successfully to be driven to school by my sore-necked husband (see the ninja-kick paragraph before as to why). With my oldest left to catch the bus, and youngest two gymnasts still asleep in my bed, I tucked away my cup of coffee and sat at my laptop for about an hour in the darkness before I felt a pull from the bed behind me, from the cozy, warm, sleeping toddlers, beckoning me in their sleep to come cuddle them some more this morning, despite the work ahead of me and the warmth deliciousness of my coffee. I Carpe’d the heck out of Diem – out of SLEEP – and snuck in a little extra time with them, in rest, in bed. I don’t get that chance all that often, and I seized it. With vigor.

Carpe Diem is a phrase meant to inspire you to be sure to be fully in the moment, to be present in what’s happening, and go after life, attack it, like a wild animal after its prey. Don’t let it pass you by, don’t let these parenting moments, good or bad, go by without you bearing witness to them. Live them. Love them. Attack them. Grit your teeth through them. Inhale them knowing they are yours and yours only, that you’re living. Know that each will make you stronger, and will teach you something. You don’t have to even love every moment. (I mean, who really loves the overabundance of poopie diapers, or cleaning up puke from a sick toddler? Really? But who isn’t thankful to be their parent, to be there to help them because they can’t do it themselves. Right?)

For each bad there are twice as many good. There’s always someone out there who would give their left arm for what you have because, through biology, infertility or more, they can’t have what you have. I know it can seem like a pressure to be burdened with, but it’s the truth. It doesn’t make older folks insensitive who approach you saying to “treasure these times,” or “savor these moments,” it makes them wise, because they know, all too well, how fast and fleeting time is, how it won’t wait for “just a minute” for you to poke your head up from whatever has fascinated you to pay attention. You must always be paying attention.

(Cue ironic interruption) Just this very second, my two little ones came scrambling into the room in hysterics. Before I sat my butt into this chair, again, I made them breakfast and drinks (milk and water), and they chose to play Wii Music before getting dressed to head to the store with me in a bit. Since they finished eating, I’ve heard nothing by hysterical laughter coming from the next room with a lot of weird sounds. “Mommy!” they both exclaimed, “You have to see this!!!”

My toddler pulled me, he knows that when he wants me nowadays, he has to ‘help’ me up. Knowing I was close to the end of my writing, I contemplated for a moment whether to get up and see or put it off a couple minutes. But they insisted it was absolutely “uh-larious” and I had to come see now (!!). Even if slightly inconvenient, even if my coffee cup beckoned, and my writing got put on hold, it’s why I work from home, for them. And so, my choice was made, and Baby Dude and Baby Sis helped me up. They wowed me with their band-playing skills for a few moments, all while jumping and laughing and pointing.I took a mental snapshot with my mind of their baby smiles, leaning myself against the couch, almost in tears. It might not be the biggest moment ever, inconvenient or no, but it’s the small moments that make most of our everyday, and it’s those ones I’ll miss the most. And if I didn’t Carpe Diem, I may have missed it. (End ironic interruption)

I hope to write more of these moments here in the upcoming weeks, months, years, so I can always remember these times with them. I will miss them, dearly, when we’re all older and they’ve moved onto their own lives with their own families; then I’ll be the one who will be in a store someday, stricken beyond words when seeing a young mother with young children just being excited about the adventure, a mother who might not want to hear or acknowledge it at the time, but who might actually be grateful for the reminder that her time is fleeting. I liken it to the times, as a child, when your mother would tell you, “You’ll see when you get older. You’ll learn, someday, that I was right.” And, as it turns out, our mothers always were, weren’t they?

Besides, even if your toddler is raising holy hell that day, and you’re seriously on your last nerve, things could always be worse. It’s that silver lining principle you should have in your pocket to see you through life as unscathed as possible. Today they may be a terror, but tomorrow might be a good day (and it probably will); just the fresh start you need. Or it could be the day your life changes beyond your control, like Jen’s cousin‘s did. Or you could be experiencing the miracle of life within you, and what should have been a regular doctor’s appointment was no longer, like Arianne‘s was. Or it may not even be your children at all, it could be your husband taken from you, unexpectedly, like Jennie‘s was. (Especially being a military wife, with our husbands called off to war, we know better. We live for each moment; we have no idea what can happen next.)

I feel their respective pains deeply, taking it into my heart, knowing no one is guaranteed a charmed life. We were merely given this life, and it’s our choice what we make of it. It’s with that knowledge I hope to do the best that I can, even if it’s not the greatest 100% of the time, because I have no idea what life has in store for me tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that.

I choose to Carpe Diem the good, the bad, and the everything in-between. What about you?

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