If you've been paying attention to Facebook and Twitter recently, you've probably seen Glennon Melton's post, "Don't Carpe Diem." Well-written and thought-provoking, it's worthy of all the attention it's getting.
As I read her post, though, I realized something rather startling:
I'm one of the old ladies in the grocery store.
Okay, so I'm not really that old. I'm 48. And my kids are not all grown and gone from home. But the truth is that when I see a mom with little kids, I experience a bunch of mixed emotions. There's a part of me that thinks, "Boy, I'm glad I don't need a cart with seat belts any more." But there's a bigger part of me that thinks, "Don't I still need a cart with seat belts?"
What the old ladies really mean is that they're jealous.
To suggest that anyone should--or even could--enjoy every moment of parenting is ludicrous, of course. I didn't enjoy the moment that my two-year-old turned on the sink taps and closed the drains in the second-floor bathroom and I didn't know about it until water began pouring through the ceiling in the basement. I didn't enjoy the moment when my five-year-old wanted to read in bed and so pulled his bedside lamp under the covers and got second-degree burns on his leg. I didn't enjoy the moments when all three boys had a stomach virus at the same time. I didn't enjoy all the moments in the barber's shop or the headmaster's office or the emergency room. I don't think anyone enjoys every moment.You know what, though? I miss those times. Even those days through which I just barely limped. Some of them made me want to pull my hair out--and some of them made me want to pull my kids' hair out--but I miss them. So when I see a mom whose kids are yelling or screaming or kicking or making a scene, I don't tell her that she ought to be enjoying every moment. But I want to tell her not to wish these times away. I want to tell her that these moments are going to be gone awfully fast.
Is parenting like climbing Mt. Everest? I don't know. I think maybe it's more like hiking across the continent. You get tired and dirty and sweaty; your feet hurt and your back aches. For the most part you don't need special equipment. You don't get your picture in the paper for having done it. But while you may never enjoy the breathtaking vista from the top of the mountain, one day you will have another view: perspective. You'll know that the journey was worth every step, even the excruciating ones.
And you might feel jealous of the young moms in the grocery store.