Sunday, September 19, 2010

Written in Stone

I will be the first to admit that Sunday is often a hard day for me.  Don't get me wrong--that doesn't equate with Sunday being a bad day.  Despite everything, I usually enjoy the lessons and testimonies I hear at church, I love singing all the hymns, and I almost always walk out the door of the church feeling spiritually fortified.

It's just that I walk out that door and get into a van with three hungry, cranky children who are tired of wearing fancy clothes and need to get out all the loud laughter and uncouth behavior they suppressed during church, knowing that I have to go home and cook up a Sunday dinner and dreading the dishes that dinner will leave behind.

And don't even get me started on what getting to church is like.

Oh, my goodness.  All I need to say is "My husband is in the bishopric," and I'm sure any Mormon woman reading this will shake her head sympathetically and say a prayer for me.  Those of you who are not Mormons may need a more detailed explanation:  Mormon congregations are headed by a bishop, who plays a role comparable to that of a pastor in other churches.  The bishop has two assistants, called counselors.  The bishop and his counselors are referred to as a bishopric by the members of the congregation.  All leadership in our church is done on a lay basis--meaning no one gets paid--we all have other jobs to support our families, but do our church jobs on a purely voluntary basis.

So, when I say that my Bionic Man is in a bishopric, that means that he is away from home most of Sunday, participating in meetings, assisting the bishop, helping to maintain financial records, and giving service to the members of our congregation.  He also sits near the pulpit....while the children and I sit in the congregation.

Now, I know that the Bionic Man won't always be in the bishopric.  Mormons take turns filling all the various positions that keep our congregations running.  And I am grateful that he wasn't in the bishopric when our children were little.  I really shouldn't complain.  I'd just like someone to explain to me why it is so simple to get three children ready and out the door to the bus stop all by myself during the week, and sooooo difficult to get the same three children ready and out the door to church on Sunday.  But it is.

Last Sunday was really a doozy.  I'd been asked to substitute in one of the children's classes, so I was preparing a lesson.  No one could find their shoes.  The dog kept barking.  There were a few fights.  The Bionic Man made waffles for us before he left for the church, but he left quite a bit of batter and some dishes behind.  The house that had been clean on Saturday morning was trashed.  I was tired before I even got out of bed.  We were almost late for church.  Superkid wiggled up, down, and all over our bench for the first 20 minutes, then fell asleep.  Justone and Endeavor, normally well-mannered in public, could not stop pestering and bothering each other during the congregational meeting.  By the time I arrived home with the children, they weren't the only ones who were tired and grouchy and hungry.  So was I.

I proceeded to cook an impressive meal of broccoli, salad, sweet potato fries, and coconut almondine chicken with orange sauce.  The Bionic Man came home just a few minutes before dinner was ready and disappeared.  I asked the children nine times (eight nicely, the ninth in an "elevated" tone) to set the table.  It was set, but without key utensils.  The food was almost ready, so I called out through gritted teeth, "Dinner's ready!"

No response.  The children continued jumping from couch to couch as if I'd never spoken.

I tried again.  "Dinner is ready, now, come sit down at the table."

No response. 

I called for the Bionic Man.  Loudly.  I had no idea where he was.  One of the children though he'd gone upstairs.  I told Superkid to go find her daddy and tell him dinner was ready.  She wandered away toward the staircase.

I checked the steaming broccoli, which was done, and covered the chicken.  I waited.  Superkid skipped back through the kitchen.  "Is Daddy coming?" I asked.

Superkid looked surprised.  "I don't know," she responded.

"Did you tell him it was time to eat?" I questioned her.

"Ummmm...." Superkid thought about this, deeply, before she replied.  "I think I forgot."

"Go sit down at the table," I commanded the children, who were by now chasing the dog around the couches.  Then I called LOUDLY up the stairs to my husband, telling him dinner was ready RIGHT NOW.

I returned to the kitchen.  The children were still chasing the dog.  The coconut almondine chicken was getting colder every minute.  There seemed to be two choices:  I could get really mad....or I could eat dinner.

I ate dinner.

I filled my plate, prayed over it, and took a bite of chicken.  The children were oblivious.  My husband was nowhere to be found.  The broccoli was nice and tender, not overdone and mushy.  The only member of the family that paid any attention to the solitary diner was Hunter the Dog, who had taken his place under the table.  I shared some of my sweet potato fries with him.

Despite chewing very deliberately, I soon finished my Sunday dinner.  I cleared the table and began boxing up the leftovers.  There were a lot of leftovers.  Without the dog to chase, the children were hiding behind the couches and throwing sock balls at each other.  No sign yet of the Bionic Man.

I was just putting the broccoli into the fridge when the Bionic Man walked into the kitchen, hair tousled and sheet wrinkles pressed into his face.   "Hi, Daddy!" Superkid greeted him, while simultaneously Justone announced, "I'm hungry.  When's dinner?"

The Bionic Man rubbed his eyes.  "Did I just dream that you called me down for dinner, or did that really happen?" he wondered.

"Dinner," I replied acridly, "was served to those who wanted it thirty minutes ago.  It is now over."  And on that note, I put Hunter the Dog on his leash and we went for a long walk. 

We walked and walked.  I steamed and stewed for the first half hour.  For the second half hour, I thought about how I might have handled the situation differently.  Finally, I turned towards home and started giggling about it.  Having everyone ignore dinner was a somewhat funny first. 

I walked in the door and found a very different household than the one I'd left.  All the pillows and blankets and stuffed animals had been removed from the floor.  Superkid was busy shining windows.  Justone was sweeping the floor.  Endeavor was putting away the last of the dishes, and the Bionic Man was scouring the sink.

There was a hand-picked vase of garden flowers on the table, alongside a simple apology written on a chalkboard rock.
I could tell they meant it.  I gave them all hugs and told them how beautiful the kitchen looked.  I said I was glad I was their mom and wife.  They could tell I meant it.

The rest of the evening was peaceful.  I'm glad I took a time out instead of completely losing it.  I'm also glad the chalkboard rocks are being put to good use.

So, share some wisdom.  What do you do to make Sundays or other family times full of more goodness and less stress?  What is your strategy for the traditional home-cooked Sunday dinner?  What do you do to keep your cool when it seems like no one is listening to you?

And, in exchange for your wisdom, I'll share a little blogging tip:
I didn't write this post today, even though it posted today.  I wrote it earlier in the week, and used Blogger's post options to schedule a time for it to be published later.  This is a great feature, especially if you tend to blog in spurts.  Blogger will actually let you create posts and schedule a time for them to be automatically published.  Before you hit the Publish Post button, click just above that where it says Post Options.  A menu bar will appear.  Drag your curser to the right and check the box marked Scheduled At.  This, in turn, will drop a menu box down, giving you the option to name the date and time you wish your post to be published.  Once you've set up a time, just hit the orange publish button and forget about it.  It will take care of itself.  Enjoy!


  1. Oh, this ís a funny story! And so sweet on the end...
    I recognize your sundaystress, overhere we don't attend the church each week, but somehow work seem to pile up and up on sundays...
    Why is there só many laundry on sundays? (all of us wear clean clothes and shower on sunday of cource) Why do I have to ask everybody to clean their toys up every half hour or break my leggs? (because on sunday all children have time to play together)And I am also supposed to vissit my parents on sunday afternoon, and take a loooong walk (or bikeride) with the family.
    Hmm, I see that I am not the only person that loves sunday-EVENINGS more than sunday mornings...

  2. I love your blog! I found it from you commenting on Modern country Style. I'm your newest Follwer.

    That's such a fab and very honest post. How sweet of your family to react like that to you (underdstandably) being cross.

    Sundays can be hard, I know just what youmean. We have four little ones and after church sometimes I feel like having a lie down!!

    Do pop by Modern Country Style soon.


  3. I just stumbled across your blog and I'm enjoying it quite a bit! This post brought tears to my eyes! I, too, have eaten by myself while the rest of my family seemed oblivious. I loved that you took the dog for a walk instead of venting your frustrations. What a great idea.

    I'll have to remember that I'm in good company when the Sunday morning stress kicks in!