Sunday, August 24, 2008

On faith and fatigue

Published August 24, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

There are things in life a mother does for the long term good of her children, even when her children aren’t sure they agree. Vegetables. Shots. In my oldest son’s case: open heart surgery. Sometimes, it’s just a judgment call. You ignore the protests and do what’s right.

This week’s “right” action has been our return to family scripture time. To their credit, the kids are the ones who asked for us to do this, bringing it up as an issue at one of our family meetings, so you wouldn’t think they’d complain too much. The protests occurred when I announced that the only time we have available to read scriptures is early in the morning. In this case, early in the morning amounts to a full two hours earlier than they’ve been rising all summer long. After some discussion, my spiritually starved brood agreed to the new wake-up time and we set our plan into motion. This wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

The answer to that question lies somewhere in the surreal meeting place of faith and fatigue. What I’ve learned about my kids this week is that no matter how much they beg for scripture time, the act of waking them up early for scripture time will invariably lead to a passel of youth who would much rather live a rested, godless existence.

Day 1: I was chipper and excited to begin anew on our journey through a long-ago land where people said things like “behold” and “betwixt” and “yea, verily.” Being chipper was my first mistake. A word to the wiser-than-I, don’t ever try to wake your children two hours early with a chipper demeanor.

Three of the kids cried. One of them hid under a blanket. One of them volunteered to read but found her eyes too tired to focus on the words. All of them grumbled. Undaunted, I pressed on, reading the chapter myself and then bribing them…I mean, celebrating their willingness to wake up early with some grocery store donuts. Later that night, at work, my supervisor offered to let me go home an hour early, saying, “You look like you’re going to pass out.”

Day 2: Only one child cried, but all of them hid under blankets and no one volunteered to read. Less chipper, but still hopeful, I plowed through the chapter, a mere 13 verses this time. Three of the kids were sleeping by verse five. Waking them up again for family prayer time, we then moved on to the business of our day. At about 8:45, I flopped down in my favorite, fluffy front room chair and saw my oldest child sleeping strangely, though peacefully, on the couch.

I looked at my sleeping son, the picture of discomfort, his body twisted into a fastastical shape only a snake or a broken tree branch could possibly copy, and I thought, Hmmmmm…good idea. Twisting myself into an equally fantastical shape on my chair, I zonked for the next 30 minutes, dreaming of ancient prophets wagging their heads at my weakness.

Day 3: I *cough* accidentally left my cell phone, which doubles as my alarm clock, upstairs and overslept until 7:25. At this writing, it is now 11:10, and I’ve been content to let them play outside with their cousins for most of the morning, rationalizing that their cousins have surely been having family scripture time more consistently than we have and will surely share some of their vast scriptural knowledge between games of hide and seek and dodgeball. I swear I heard my niece sharing her views on repentance with my youngest daughter. (“That’s not nice! You should say sorry!”)

Day 4? Well, that’s tomorrow. I think after my slip-up today, I’ll wake up tomorrow refocused and ready to keep trying. I’ve read it only takes three weeks to make a habit, so I’m hopeful the next two and a half weeks will bring good results.

If they don’t, behold, there will be no more donuts betwixt the kids and me. Yea, verily.