I grew up observing the Sabbath day. I'm sure as a child I loathed what I viewed as an interruption to my regular activities, but by the time I was a teenager I learned to love the Sabbath. As I got even older, Sunday became my favorite day of the week. I quickly learned that the day of rest was more about spiritual rejuvenation than anything else. Life is rough and the Sabbath became my opportunity to buoy myself up for the next stab at it.
Now I'm a mother of four. And they're young. And I think it's just best to tell you how my Sunday went.
"Mom, I wet my bed."
I pried my exhausted eyes open. My baby doesn't sleep very well and it's taking its toll. "What!?"
"I wet my bed. And I must have peed twice or something because it's a lot of pee."
Even amid my exhaustion, that was funny. Not the pee itself, but the explanation. I managed a smile. Now we used to have church at 8:30 in the morning, but this year we don't start until 12:30. My husband works every other Sunday and today happened to be his Sunday on. Of course. And so my day began.
My boys get up at 6:15 every school day. They shower, they get dressed, they eat breakfast, they brush their teeth, they say their prayers, and they make their beds. It goes off without a hitch. Worst case scenario, I have to tell one of them to quit lying on their floor wrapped in a towel and to just get dressed. It seems that regardless of how many times I explain that they'd be warmer if they got dressed, they prefer the wet towel. Whatever . . . I probably did the same thing.
Anyway, Sundays don't go like that . . . at all. I'm pretty sure my kids just sense it's the Sabbath and unleash all of the chaos that they've been saving up for occasions such as this. I walked out of my girls' bedroom (and I was only in there for two seconds to grab a diaper) and my boys were using the back of the couch as a balance beam.
"What are you doing up there!? You know we don't treat our furniture like that (as if acting like my furniture has feelings is going to make them stop)!"
Giggles and the cushions become their trampoline because that's the only logical way to get down. I get Avery down for her nap. Finally. The other three are coloring at the table. "Okay kids, I'm going to take a shower. Color quietly and don't wake Avery. I'll be out in a couple minutes."
Not 30 seconds into my shower and my bathroom door is flung open. "Mom, Tanner just glued the picture he was coloring to the wall!!"
Another 45 seconds after that and the door flies open again. "Mom, Hunter took my picture off the wall and glued it to my pants!!"
"Go away." It's all I could think to say. I was pretty sure I should be crying or something, but I was too tired.
Two minutes pass and I think it might be safe to shave my legs, but wouldn't you know, that darn door slams into the wall again. I should probably just take it off its hinges. It's not like it grants me any privacy anyway. "Avery's awake! I took her out of her crib and set her by me, but she fell and hit her chin on the bench. She's smiling now, but I thought I should tell you that you might want to check her."
Oh. My. Gosh. Well, this day couldn't possibly get any worse. That's all I could think. I'm stupid like that.
The kids ate their lunch in relative peace. They like eating and my threats of making them miss lunch if they didn't settle down must have worried them. After lunch they were supposed to brush their teeth and get their church clothes on. Simple as pie. Or not. I come out from blow drying my hair to find Hunter wearing nothing but his tie and boxer briefs. That's more than I can say for Tanner. He didn't even bother to put on his tie.
"What are you guys doing!? We don't run around the house in our underwear. Get dressed!"
Forty-five minutes later and mission accomplished. This must be a joke. How is it that we have 4 extra hours to be at church and we STILL can't make it on time!? Not that it matters. It's rare that I can sit in the chapel anyway. I always have one . . . or two . . . or ALL of my children out in the foyer because they can't be quiet to save their lives.
So there we sit in the foyer. We've only been there for about 15 minutes when I notice something orange in Tanner's mouth.
"What's in your mouth."
He opens his mouth to show me, as if that answers my question.
"What is that!?"
Is this kid serious!? Who eats chapstick!? I mean, this is the kid who sprayed mosquito repellent directly up his own nose, ingested half a bottle of foaming hand soap, and sucked on a sponge covered in Comet, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised . . . like at all.
"Go to the bathroom and spit that out! What's wrong with you!?"
He comes back and Hunter informs me that he saw Tanner coming out of one of the classrooms, not the bathroom. Tanner tells us it's because there's a garbage can in there. Hunter looks at him with a look that must have rivaled mine.
"Yeah right, I'm checking . . . uh, Mom, Tanner stuck the chapstick to the wall in that classroom. There's not even a garbage can in there."
What would I do without my seven-year old who thinks he's everyone's parent? Probably leave some unsuspecting person to find that nasty chaptstick, that's what. Tanner won my look that could kill. I handed Avery to Hunter and walked Tanner into the classroom.
"You're cleaning this up. Get it off the wall. All of it."
He did . . . and immediately smeared it on his slacks. I spent 10 minutes trying to get that crap out of his pants and to no avail.
"What is wrong with you today!? Why would you do that, Tanner!?"
Blank stare. Because it's Sunday. That's why.
We managed to make it through the rest of our meetings and back to our house. Tanner cleaned up his mess from before church and was promptly put to bed.
And in my overwhelming exhaustion, I've been sitting here wondering why on Earth I even bother. Why do I torture myself? What could possibly possess me to put myself through this every week (because I assure you that today was no exception)? I didn't hear one word of our Sacrament Meeting. Not one. I don't even know who spoke or what the topic was. I went home feeling more exhausted than if I'd just skipped it. I was convinced that my children couldn't possibly be benefiting from this situation . . . or myself for that matter.
But my answer came. Without me even getting a nap first. I do it because it's the right thing to do. I do it so that my children will know exactly where they should be every Sunday for the rest of their lives. I do it to instill habits of goodness in them, just like my parents did with me. I do it because I know that one day they'll love the Sabbath and they'll have figured out how to keep it holy. I do it because one day things will be peaceful and I'll actually get to listen during church again. I do this week in and week out because I'm a mother . . . a mother who believes in the reality of a loving God and a Savior and an Atonement.
And that Atonement is miraculous. No matter how far off course we are, as long as we're doing the best that we can, the Savior makes up the difference. He completes everything that we haven't been able to finish. We do all that we can do and then we reach for Him . . . we reach for Him from right where we stand. Whether we're a mile off course, or ten, or fifty-eight, we just reach. He doesn't make us run to catch up with Him. We just reach and he bridges that gap. We just have to have the faith to reach out.
He will make all of this right. He will bless my children. He will bless our family. I carry on, I do what I can as a mother, and He makes up the rest. That much I am sure of.