I want to Carpe Diem

A blog post written by an excellent blogger went viral a few months ago. In many ways, I agree with what she writes about releasing ourselves as parents of the pressure to enjoy every single moment of this parenting journey.

But part of me wonders why we get so upset when older women come up to us in the store and urge us to enjoy the minutes. Why are we so quick to lash out when strangers want to offer a bit of encouragement – even if it’s misguided? I don’t say this accusingly, because I, too, have found myself defensive when people make comments that I perceive to be insensitive, ignorant or laced with pressure.

But if I step back and take a deep breath, most of the time it’s really evident that whoever made the comment is not speaking out of judgement or malice, but simply from a place that’s different from mine.

Take the older gentleman in Sam’s a few months back – the one who tsked at me when the kids were acting like rabid baboons while we waited in line. At first, I was annoyed at his impatience. My initial reaction was to either lash out at him, or to encourage the kids to act out more simply out of spite.

But when I stepped back (as in left the store and thought about it a bit), I realized this: he’s old. Also, I have no idea what his background is. Maybe he never had kids and simply doesn’t understand. Likely, if he did have kids, his wife did the majority of the errands with them when they were small, simply because that’s how older generations operated.

The point is, I don’t know, so why get so upset about it? Why not just smile politely, try to quiet the kids and realize that once we leave the store we will probably never see him again?

Problem solved.

The fact of the matter is, our time with our children is short. It will go by quickly. And before we know it, we will be the older women in the check out line watching a young mom wrangle in her children, frazzled and tired, and we will probably miss those moments – yes, even the moments that are “helluva hard.”

So even in the crazy, when the kids are running rampant in the store, try to take a deep breath and remind yourself of two things:

This will not last forever and you’ve got hundreds of solo shopping trips ahead of you in life so don’t waste time getting embarrassed over the small stuff.

These days really will fly by fast, so seize every moment you can and laugh as often as possible.


I don’t say these things as someone who’s got this down. I scowl more than I laugh some days and I look forward to bedtime as much as the next person – it’s the nature of the beast. But I’m not for a second wishing this time away.

Just because I don’t always Carpe Diem doesn’t mean I shouldn’t at least try.

In fact, with the realization that my “baby” is going to be five at the end of the year, I find myself a little sad and wistful. I watch the new moms around me with a faint smile and I find myself whispering softly, “Enjoy every minute of this time because it goes by so fast.”

Yes, I remember the sleepless nights, the endless crying and the non-stop work of having an infant. And I miss it. I actually do miss it. I didn’t think I would when I had an infant, but I do now. I would take a hundred sleepless nights all over again if I could. If I feel that way, then it’s quite possible that the older women in the store feel the same about the harried state of life I’m currently in.

So the next time you’re at the store with your kids and they’re wreaking havoc, try to take a minute to sit back, laugh and be present in the moment. And when the older woman smiles and urges you to seize the day, or asks you if you are going to “try for a girl/boy” or wonders why they’re not in school, smile politely and thank her for any encouragement she has to offer.

I think the old women at Target have a lot to teach us, if we’re willing to listen…

Great. Now Prove It.

“I’m sorry,” he says, over and over again.  “Mom.  I’m sorry.”  This time his tone demands forgiveness.  I don’t doubt the sincerity of his apology, but I do doubt the sincerity of his remorse.  Because, you see, when he’s been told that Dad will have to deal with this situation, suddenly his apologies are much more fervent.

He apologizes over and over wanting an immediate and swift reply from me.  Sometimes I’m able to give it.  Other times I’m so frustrated that I can’t immediately verbalize my forgiveness.  Of course he’s forgiven, I just need a minute to mean it when I say it.

“I said I’m sorry!” His voice has raised a decibel and he’s noticeably frustrated at my silence.

“I heard you say it, son,” I respond.  “Now I want you to prove it.”

“Huh?” comes the standard reply.

“Prove to me you’re sorry.”


“By changing your behavior.”

For the first time, he is silent.  Blissfully silent.  My firstborn’s downfall in life will be his tongue unless he finds a way to harness it.

He walks out of the room and closes himself in his homework nook.  For twenty minutes he is back there, working feverishly on something.  He comes out after a bit and hands me a piece of paper.  He’s drawn me a picture and written the words, “Mom, I love you.  I am really sory and I want your forgivness.  I will do better.”

And just like that, forgiveness granted and relationship restored.  He still had to discuss with Daddy the loss of self control that led to the altercation, but for the rest of the afternoon, he did just what I asked.  He proved himself.  He waited just a second longer before responding.  When his sister made him angry, he left the room in a huff – a grand improvement over how he normally responds.

He proved his remorse by trying to reign in his tongue.  That was all I asked.

How often do I come before the Holy of Holies with yet another, “Lord, I’m sorry!”  How often do I skip through my day uttering “Forgive me, Lord,” without a hint of weight or remorse hidden inside my words?

How often do I choose not to reign in my tongue and just expect instant acceptance despite my unwillingness to work on the behavior?

It’s heavy, when you stop and think about it.  My eight year old got the concept of proving it better than I do.  His heart is tender and precious.  Would that I possessed those same qualities.  I’m constantly working on the tenderness of my own heart.

It doesn’t really do just to say it.  We expect so much more from our young children when it comes to obedience than we do of ourselves.  But we all must operate under the same challenge.

Prove it.

This is a Walk with Him Wednesdays post, linked to Ann Vaskamp’s site.  Each week, Ann leads her readers to take their faith a step deeper.

From Ann’s website

For one more week: … might we explore: The Practice of Hope… What does it look like to believe? How do you practice your faith day to day? How do you share that faith, deepen faith in Christ, live that faith out in the midst of fears? The whole community looks forward to your prayerful reflections stories, ideas….

For more practices of hope, visit A Holy Experience.

The Cheesecake Factory Girls

We sat outside, the twinkle of the white lights giving the night sky a blissful glow.  There were five of us, four young ones…and me.

They call me their favorite mom-friend and I take it as a great compliment. Each one of those girls holds a unique and special place in my heart.  Each one has impacted me in ways they will never fully understand.  Each one has challenged me and given me both a hope and a dream for what my daughter could someday look like.

In a world that tells you teenagers are selfish and obnoxious, these girls are proving that the world is wrong.  They are smart and funny and sensitive and sweet.  They are aware of the world around them and possess maturity beyond their years.  Come to think of it, most of the teenagers at our old church possess these qualities.  It is why we had such an amazing body of believers.  Because where there are amazing teenagers, there are more often than not amazing parents standing behind them.

This was a parting dessert.  I wanted to gather the four of them together at one time, and in one place, to tell them just how much they meant to me and just how proud I was of them.  I fumbled with my words.  I’m better with a keyboard than I am in person.  I’m all awkward and Gen X that way…

You don’t find young people like these four girls often. They are kind, considerate, thoughtful, sweet, witty, smart and they are all drop dead gorgeous on the inside and the out.  One of the four asked if she could go to China for her sixteenth birthday so that she could serve little ones in an orphanage.  And she did it.  The others have served in Haiti, in Mexico and in downtown St. Louis.  Not because they had to, but because they wanted to.

These girls have impacted my life by giving me the encouragement I needed on the hard days of parenting.  Because I know their parents.  I know that the Cheesecake Factory girls are merely a product of God’s grace and firm, loving parenting.  And the three couples who parented these four girls are some of the people we most dearly miss.  They are the three couples who were at the top of the list of reasons we should not move away.

It’s not that these are abnormal teenagers by any stretch of the imagination.  We spent a portion of our evening at the Cheesecake Factory looking for the hunky Australian waiter who worked there.  We never found him, unfortunately.  But in the looking, I fell in love with the Cheesecake Factory girls even more.

They are regular teenage girls who exhibit grace in extraordinary ways. The Cheesecake Factory girls are a picture of true beauty.

When the world says that teenagers are out of control, I always remember the Cheesecake Factory girls and I take heart.  There is hope for me and there is hope for those of you who are currently in the trenches of raising young children.

Why do people say these elementary years are the easy part of parenting?  Because they’re not!  They are fun years and I am going to miss the young years desperately, but they are not easy.  These are the years when all the battles must be won.  These years of childhood are the years when it’s the hardest.


If we win the battles now, what delight awaits us!  We will raise our own Cheesecake Factory girls…and boys.  Teenagers that are fun and delightful and a joy to spend time with.  The fun years await us if we’re willing to fight the fight right now.  Join with me as we battle for the deepest parts of the souls of our children, won’t you?

This weekend I am thankful for grace, for godly examples and for the Cheesecake Factory girls.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12

Image credit

I Said “A Boom Chicka Boom…”

This post has nothing to do with that title – I have just really wanted to title a post that for a long time now…

Actually, this post really has to do with nothing at all.  You’re ripe with excitement to read further aren’t you? 

Maybe I should do an entire post of one liners.

So there was this blogger who walked into a bar…


We’re T – four days and counting until the big trip.  I’ve had some freak out moments in the last few days, the biggest being when I realized that we might have to cut Hallstatt out of the itinerary.  My Hallstatt.  My preciousssssss

I fretted and fraught (fraught?) and worried and moped.  But it was a reality that we had planned way more than we could probably feasibly accomplish in our short time over there.  And I really didn’t want to cut out Tuscany.  Something had to go.  Until…wait a minute.  Maybe not.

What it boiled down to is this: We need to be flexible.  We I need to be willing to cut out Hallstatt if it becomes apparent that there is just no way we’re going to make it all the way there and still have time to book it down to Tuscany.  And so I still have hope, my friends.  You see, the goal is to try and stay off of the AutoBahn (and Autostrada) as much as possible.  We want to explore and get the flavor of the land.  We want to round a curve and be looking down at a village nestled in the mountains.  This means that it will take longer to travel.  But it also means we’re going to have an adventure.

And if we miss Hallstatt, we’ll just have to go back, right?  Deal!

Moving on…

See?  More one liners.  There is always room for one liners.

Too bad these aren’t the funny kind of one liners.

They’re kind of boring actually…

Ah well.

Sloan woke up with a low grade fever tonight.  I gave him some Tylenol and piled him back in bed where I hope he’ll wake up fever free for school tomorrow…because I’m that mom.  If you’re not dying, you’re going, kiddo. 

We’ll see. 

We will also be buying Emergen-C in bulk tomorrow.  And Zinc.  And Echinacea.  I will not come down with a fever on my dream vacation.  Oh, and to our parents who are splitting kid duty for the ten days while we are away: I’m so, so sorry.  Here’s to hoping whatever Sloan has doesn’t spread.  Or maybe he doesn’t have anything.  Here’s to hoping that.

Speaking of Sloan – he and I had a duke it out, we-might-not-make-it homework session tonight.  I won.  Barely.  We’re having this minor issue with child #1 in that every.single.time we bring him to the table to do homework, he brings along a massive chip on his shoulder.  He is heaping with sass these days and it’s never more apparent than when he is under educational duress.  It is especially evident when it comes time to do russian homework. Ay-yay-yay.

When it was all said and done and that which could have been completed in twenty minutes was finally finished after an hour of sweat and tears (no blood, thankfully) I felt defeated and dejected.  Now that I know he is running a low grade fever I feel a little better, but the truth is – homework is often painful.

But, just before bed, Sloan grabbed my hand and led me back to our bedroom and sat me down on the bed.  “We need to have a little talk,” he said.

“I had a bad attitude tonight and I was just angry and upset and sometimes russian is really hard and I feel like I can’t do it.  But I didn’t act right.  I wasn’t ‘quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry’ and I’m sorry.  Will you forgive me?”

He did that on his own.  Without any prompting.

My heart is still a little gooey.  Of course I was quick to offer my forgiveness and apologize for my lack of patience.  Amends were made and we agreed to work as a team to make homework more fun.  It is moments like those that I truly, truly love being a parent.  Sure it’s cool when they hit a home run or draw you a picture, but when they exhibit a heart attitude that you have worked so hard to help shape and mold?  That is when parenting is most rewarding.  Just when I felt like I was the worst mom ever and totally incapable of successfully parenting that boy, he reminded me that his sweet little heart is full of gold nuggets just waiting to be dug up and harvested.

Do you harvest gold?  Did I just mix metaphors?

So yes…parenting is wicked hard.  But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I wouldn’t even trade it for Hallstatt, Austria.

I Said “A booma ticka rocka ticka rocka ticka boom!”

The End.

Post edit: Sloan woke up fever free this morning and he happily skipped to school (well, happily skipped onto the school bus anyway).  Whoop!