Social networks have been abuzz recently with an essay written by Glennon Melton called “Don’t Carpe Diem.” (I love her name, by the way. I had a Great Aunt Glenna and she was a firecracker of a woman. This Glennon is firecracker of a writer. I like her as much as my new best friend, Crappy Pictures Mama.) In the essay, Melton writes about how frustrating it is to be told to enjoy every moment of motherhood when most of the time you’re contemplating dropping off your kids at the nearest firestation or donating them to the government for scientific research.
I’ve been told to savor every moment of motherhood plenty of times, and I’ve felt the aggravation she describes, but I’ve also experienced the “Kairos” time she writes about – moments when time stands still and you realize how very fortunate you are to be in the parenting mess you’ve created for yourself.
When I tell my mom about a really tough day I’ve had with the boys, she doesn’t pull the carpe diem crap on me (thank you, Mom). Instead, she says, “Jenny, when you and your sister were little, I would stand by the front window in the afternoons and wait for your father’s car to pull into the driveway.”
When I’m an older Mama and my boys have grown into men (gasp!), I imagine I’ll have the opportunity to talk to a young woman about motherhood. I won’t do the carpe diem thing either. Instead, I’ll tell her the story of the day I took Dylan to the dentist soon after his fifth birthday.
It started with two simple questions: “Which toothbrush would you like?” and, “Which flavor of toothpaste would you like?” He picked a toothbrush without much trouble. (A Justin Bieber one, in case you’re wondering. I thought it was funny, too.) When faced with the toothpaste decision, however, his response, to my surprise and horror, was to run. Fast. Out of the toothbrush room, through the (crowded) waiting room, out the front door and straight into the parking lot. When I finally caught my little Runaway, I thought to myself, This was supposed to be the easy part.
The rest of the visit involved alot of crying and screaming and an excessive amount of brute strength on my part to physically restrain Dylan while the dental hygienist named Paradise (how fitting) counted, scraped, polished and flossed Dylan’s teeth. When it was all over, Dylan, as if he woke from a coma with amnesia, hopped up, asked for stickers and toys, promised to share them with his brother (who was thankfully at home with Grandma), and jumped at the chance to take a picture with the dentist with a huge smile onhis face.
I talked to the dentist about how Dylan’s sensory issues (strong gag reflex, texture and noise sensitivity,anxiety, etc.) contributed to his, ahem, regretful behavior, and she told me it might be a good idea to bring him in for cleanings every three months to help desensitize him. I wanted to askher if they scheduled happy hour cleanings, or even better, drop-off cleanings, but I thought better of it. Then she told me how healthy his teeth were, and I told her, “If he ever gets a cavity, I’ll pay for sedation.”
When we finally got back in the car, I looked at the clock and realized it wasn’t even nine o’clock in the morning. Thankfully, my mom and I had plans to see a movie after dropping off the boys at school. A matinee, including popcorn, was just what the
doctor dentist ordered to keep me from obsessing about Dylan’s next dentist appointment scheduled for mid-July.
We saw “The Descendants” with George Clooney. I wasn’t sure what I thought about the movie when it initially ended, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the day, and by the time I went to sleep, I realized Ithought it was, in fact, an excellent movie. (I also realized how badly I’d like to go to Hawaii.)
Look who my mom and I saw at themovie theater!
I couldn’t wait to show Dylan this picture after school. Just as I expected, the precious look on his face when he saw the photo of his new favorite friends, Alvin, Simon and Theodore, was a Kairos moment.
At the end of my story, if the young mother’s eyes haven’t glazed over, I’ll tell her I think motherhood is like a good movie. It might require some time and distance to process the experience (and in my case, a lot of wine and waiting by the front window), but eventually you’ll discover the cost of the ticket and the stomach ache you get from the popcorn are worth it.