Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Last week my child left Utah, flew over 30 hours with stops in Chicago, Belgium, Africa and Uganda before ending up in Ethiopia, where he was surprised to find out they speak Amharic. His words; "My apartment is...gaaaaahhhh! But I'm not complaining, because I have a roof over my head and running water—sometimes."

It's called an LDS mission, and you will all want to sign up for this program that makes boys into men. :) This week's article below:

So guess what I just found out? Apparently, I am the ONLY MISSIONARY MOTHER IN THE WORLD who doesn’t love her son.

That’s right. I am the ONLY MOTHER HE’S EVER HEARD OF who, after kissing her son goodbye at the Missionary Training Center curb, didn’t head directly to the nearest post office to mail his first of 18 packages, so that not a moment passed without him being reassured that yes, the Earth’s axis does go directly through him. At least that’s what was insinuated in our first letter from Elder Bingham.

In case you couldn’t tell by the subtle foreshadowing in the above paragraphs, Chris was just recently wrenched from my arms and thrown like a bag of flour into a big, giant spiritual vat of teenaged boys, processed meats and care packages containing Cheetos and Mountain Dew. Which means that if somebody walked past the MTC and lit a match, well, let’s just say that thing would likely go up in a blaze of methane glory. 

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Now initially, when I received word that I was an epic mother failure, my first instinct was to point a finger. So I told him it was his own fault. Then I blamed all those other women who like to make me look bad. Then I tried to backdate a bunch of letters to make it seem as if they had just gotten lost in the delivery truck, but it turns out you can’t really do that with email. (You might want to keep that in mind for future reference.) 

An hour later, my mother’s guilt kicked in, and I felt terrible about the emotional pain I had caused him (even though I had actually sent him a letter AND a package, he just hadn’t received them yet.) This led me to start bandaging the wound by way of packages made up of completely unnecessary items, like pantyhose and lipstick, because I had them on hand and really, it just seemed vitally important to QUICKLY GET SOMETHING OFF TO THAT KID, you know? 

But then I started thinking, is it really so bad that this child should go a few days without? I mean, here we are expecting him to go two years without games and computers and texting the bejebus out of friends and family, and he’s already feeling the pangs of detox. 

This reminded me of years ago, when my oldest son received his first cell phone, and we took it away on a weekly basis. Just for fun. This infuriated him, but delighted us, because we could see his tendency to use it as a crutch, as we’d already noticed him pulling it out in awkward social situations. And okay, I’ll admit I myself have held a dead phone to my ear on numerous occasions when passing kiosks in the mall, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

Later on, when our boys had real jobs, we noticed they often brought home sacks of overpriced, unnecessary clothing to add to the pile on their bedroom floor. When we got after them, they asked why. “Why can’t we spend the money if we have it?”

We tried to explain to them what happens in a life...in a marriage especially...when somebody doesn’t know how to tell themselves no, recalling a turning point in our own marriage when Sterling brought home a brand new, shiny black gun that cost enough to cause an argument. His solution? “Go ahead and buy yourself something, Lis. Then we’ll be even.”

Fortunately, I just rolled my eyes at his suggestion. Which is not to say I didn’t go buy myself something anyway. But it was on sale, and everybody knows that if it’s on sale, you can’t afford NOT to buy it. Duh.

I guess my point is, sometimes a lack of comfort leads us to search for solace in places we might not have ever thought to look. No phone in your hand might lead  your mouth and your eyes to communicate. No expensive clothing might lead you to an incredible personality. No controllers, computers and games might lead you to imagining, creating and becoming. 

And finally, no care packages from home might just lead a missionary to drop to his knees, where he is sure to find another member of his family who will always be there with him, even when his own mother cannot.

Besides, let’s be honest; Missionary Mothers can only survive if they lock the memory of that child away in their hearts. Thus, the sooner we pretend they don’t exist, the sooner the lump in our throats will stop restricting airflow. 

Next week, he will arrive halfway across the world as a pale faced, blonde haired, timid, gassy boy in a land of wild gorillas, red bananas and people with smiles that spread clear across a nation. And when this happens, the sooner he forgets himself, the better off he’ll be. 

Bless his beautiful, missionary heart. 


Juli said...

I also take away the technology to prove a point.

I am also the worst mother on the planet.

So we're even. :)

Mimi Sue said...

Lisa we have soooo much in common. I got the same complaint, only in a letter, with my first born. How was I supposed to know I was supposed to send a package BEFORE he left for the MTC? Anyway, we all lived through it. Just barely. Congratulations on getting another one out. If he's anything like his mother he'll be a great missionary. Mimi

Mimi Sue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Garden of Egan said...

Nothing like a missionary. NOTHING!

I know you'll be a great missionary mom.

Vern said...

I think Annie Lennox needs to do a remake of "Missionary Man" and call it "Missionary Mom". I feel a Mormon skit in here somewhere...for sure.