Over the last several months I have been mildly obsessed with late night talk shows. Mainly Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and David Letterman. I DVR them all and watch whichever I'm in the mood for. I can't explain it entirely, but some of it has to do with my love for TV (yep, I admit it), and some of it has to do with helping me cope with all the darkness in the world by bringing some levity to it. These guys are just down right funny and really, really talented.
A couple months back I was watching The Jimmy Kimmel Show as he had President Bill Clinton on as his guest. Whatever your opinion of him, the President taught me a profound life lesson that night. In the first few minutes of their interview, Jimmy asks the former President about his new vegan lifestyle and in particular which he misses more: cheese, or being POTUS. This was his response:
"Well, I liked being President more than I like cheese. Most days I don't miss it. I loved doing the job, but I think one of the most important things is that,
when you're doing something you know you can't do forever, you have to organize your life so that you don't spend a minute if possible wishing you could do something you can't do anymore. "
Next, after talking briefly about Filipino politician Manny Pacquiao, he brings up Magic Johnson and his transition to business after his sports career ended prematurely.
"He never wasted a day wishing he could do what he couldn't do anymore."
Wow. Did you get that? He never wasted a single day wishing his life could be something that it's not. That statement hit me like a punch in the gut. If you read my post about being a stay at home mom, you know that my life stage and circumstances have been on my mind quite a bit lately; so, hearing his words in the context of those thoughts, I was profoundly impacted. Not infrequently an older parent says to me, "Enjoy every moment! It goes by so fast!" Or, "I would trade places with you if I could!" Or, "Enjoy it now, while they still like you!" You get the picture. In their opinion my life stage seems in some way preferable to theirs. And you know what? I believe them. I absolutely believe that it goes by quickly, that they would trade places with me if they could, and that there will be days in the future that my children will not like me. I believe you, Older Mom. I do. And I don't want to minimize your sentiments or invalidate your feelings.
I want to live my current days in such a way that when my children are grown I do not wish my days away longing for "the good old days." I want to savor the way my two year old runs: clunky, elbows flailing about, completely unhindered by what anyone thinks of her. That is a sacred and beautiful thing. I want to take an obscene amount of photos so that we have a storehouse of memories to look back on. I want to juice these days for all they are worth for the very reason that I do believe they are special and will go by quickly.
I realize this is much easier said than done, but I want to do exactly what President Clinton said: organize my life now in such a way so that later when this stage is over, I don't spend a single day wishing I could do something I simply cannot do anymore. None of us know what the future holds and what circumstances we will find ourselves in, but when the time comes, please do not let me be Older Mom who says to Younger Mom, "Enjoy every moment!" Not because I don't want her to, but because; 1) quite frankly, not every moment is enjoyable (see one of my favorite mommy blog posts here that likens parenting to climbing Mount Everest. Is every moment of that enjoyable? No. I don't think so. But yes, it's worth the climb.) 2) I don't want to be of the mindset where I longingly look at her life and wish mine were something different than it is.
I am sure that this is true for many, if not all of us. Chances are we will out-live whatever it is we are doing right now. If a person can hold the most powerful office in the free world for 8 years and go on to say that most days he doesn't miss it, surely I can work on arranging my life so that one day I can say the same. I hope to be able say to a Younger Mom, "You know what? I loved the season of having young children. It wasn't always easy, but I loved all the time we had together and all the sweet memories we made. I wouldn't trade them for the world. And, I am content with where life has me right now."