by Lisa Hughey
To me, Carpe Diem, seize the day, has always meant this epic, larger than life ideal to really live life to the fullest.
I’m a little conservative, a little cautious. I need to plan and organize and construct things. That doesn’t mean I never did anything or went anywhere but even when I seized the day, I had a plan.
And then I had my children. It’s quite a bit different to wax poetic about grand adventures after you come to the understanding that your children depend on you for everything.
It was a moment fraught with tension and sudden irrevocable shock when life finally hit me over the head with the realization that these perfect little beings, who will grow up to be neither perfect nor little, will need me (as some form of caretaker, guidance counselor, financier or friend) for the rest of my life.
For someone who tried to plan, not necessarily every moment, but make a structured outline for life, my children came in and detonated those plans like a suitcase full of C4 and life has never, ever been the same.
Every mother has that day...tired and overwhelmed and stressed about all the small things you need to deal with before you have to get up and do it again tomorrow. The kids’ futures, the past due gas and electric bill, the bully who won’t leave your kid alone, the refrigerator doesn’t seem to working properly, your spouse’s job is not going so well, your job is going even worse, laundry, what to fix for dinner because suddenly the kids don’t want the pasta that you’ve been making for years, bills, your own hopes and disappointments.
And then your sweet, adorable yet still a total PITA child tells you at six o’clock that they forgot they need to make a complicated African recipe for English class tomorrow. Or they need to talk about a boy or a girl they like. Or they want you to proofread a paper, but it’s not quite done yet.
And your first instinct is to sit down and weep because really you can’t handle one more obligation right now. Forget seizing the day, how about a dark room and little peace.
For awhile I got so wrapped up in the minutiae of handling every day life that I forgot to take time to savor the small moments. And then one day, I suddenly realized that while being there on the day they graduate from pre-school, their first day of kindergarten or middle school, the first time they take a step, ride a bike, or ask a girl to prom is important...it’s just as important to seize the love and gratitude and wonder in those private quiet moments when it’s no one else but me and my baby. Now I take the time to connect with them, talk to them. Instead of wanting to cry, I’m thankful that they trust me to be there for them no matter what happened and what kind of help they need. They know I love them.
And I finally learned I need to savor that joy...because in the grand scheme of things, those small fleeting moments are just as epic as seizing the day.