So, the other night, this beautiful, fun friend of mine shares a link with me. Says it reminded her of my recent reposting of some old words of mine. About how, apparently, I am not the only mother in the world who receives all kinds of comments from older women . . . in the check-outs, in the bathrooms, in the elevators. Those heart-felt, nostalgic words about “enjoying every minute” of our child-rearing years. Not being on Facebook anymore, I somehow missed the frenzy, as moms shared the link with other friends, giving each other, and themselves bits of comfort. I read the article “Don’t Carpe Diem” this morning. I want to preface this post of mine by saying, I LOVED this post from The Momastery. It made me laugh out loud. It made me quickly blink back tears before I ruined my fresh, just-applied, morning mascara. After reading, I immediately copied and pasted the link and sent it to a friend. I *loved* this writer’s honesty. I could relate to every single word and I loved her message.
I’ve been thinking about a dear friend of mine who just became a mother for the first time. She. is. exhausted. She’s running into all sorts of issues that I’m sure she never expected to run into and I honestly don’t know how she’s surviving! But her situation made me think back to my not-so-very-long-ago, first few months as a mom and I realized that there is one tool in my Motherhood arsenal that I wasn’t given. None of us are. And I still don’t have it with my firstborn.
You know what I mean? Your new bundle of joy is in your arms and everything is fresh and new and unknown. You have no real idea what you’re doing or where you’re going and you’re so scared of screwing something up and you haven’t slept a full night in weeks and it feels like this is the rest of your life, surely. And then your sweet, little second born arrives and you’ve done it all before and you know that they’ll eventually start sleeping and you know that each phase is oh, so short and it makes you realize just how fast you made your oldest “grow up.”
And at least for me, with my second, I actually treasured the midnight feedings and the newborn-sized diapers. Because with my second, I had a tiny bit of perspective.
So even though, when that little, old lady in the Wal-Mart milk aisle exhorted me by saying “this is the best time of your life” I stuffed feelings of the incredulity of it all, I slowly realized that that grey-haired woman had something that I didn’t and still don’t. Perspective. Maybe she’s a little nostalgic, and maybe she has selective memory regarding the late nights and the trying to find just one second to go pee and all the less than glorifying moments of motherhood. BUT she has also nearly lived the full spectrum of life and surely she must feel some sense of urgency to come up to a complete stranger to say, “Honey, treasure every moment. This is the very best time in your life.” Even if I had a very outspoken personality, I don’t think I would ever approach a complete stranger with such confidence or say that to anyone unless I felt like it was completely true for myself and that I’d somehow missed it and wished that someone, anyone, had warned me:
“You know those nights your longing for? The ones with the full night’s sleep and the days when you can sit and read a book in peace and quiet and do what you want to do, when you want to do it, and actually live that life you’ve been given? I know that life sounds like it’s 18 years off and you’re not sure just how you’re going to live those 6,570 days until your child reaches adulthood without losing your sanity, but that day will come. I promise. And it won’t be all you think it’s going to be and you’ll have wasted those 18 years longing for something that isn’t what you think it is. Enjoy what you’re living. Right this very moment. It’s more beautiful than you even know.”
There must be an awful lot of great-grandmothers out there who feel this way if each of us young moms is stopped several times a month with this same exact message.
Maybe we do need to listen.
So now, when those Wal-Mart trips take a bit longer than they used to because a frail, 80-year-old woman wants to tell me about her babies of long ago and encourages me to stop and just enjoy, I really do try to stop my mind from racing into a frustrated frenzy and try to hear her life-lived perspective.
Can I seize every moment like I ought to? No, and that’s why I simply love Glennon’s idea of “seizing a couple Kairoses today.” But I also think that we need to listen to the mothers who have gone before us and are almost done with their life’s races. Why should we assume that we will make it to 80? One month ago, I was truly afraid that my daughters would wake up that Wednesday morning without a mother to dress them or kiss their boo-boos or read them Goodnight Moon. I know it sounds cheesy and I know it sounds cliché, but what if those well-worn storybooks I read with my girls that Tuesday night had been our last storybook cuddle? What if?? None of us are promised tomorrow and none of our children are either. I’m not trying to be all fear-factor here, but really. God knows that I needed a little perspective shaken into me that one, scary night. And yes, this thing called motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done (and I survived nursing school -grin-), and it’s so easy to lose my sanity in the midst of kids going crazy in the Wal-Mart aisles and in the mere day-in and day-out caretaking and gardening of our children’s blooming hearts. I lose my sanity and perspective all too often. Daily, in fact. So for me, I welcome the wrinkled, time-worn, urgent perspective.
Yes, tell me again. Carpe Diem. Right here. Right now. There is a beautiful, grace-filled underlying theme in all this exhausting, sometimes temper-filled, sometimes hectic, sometimes less-than-I-want craziness. Help me take hold of it.