As the stars faded in the pre-dawn light on the morning of March 21, 1984, I wondered what would be in store that day with the active schedule of our family of seven. It was a seemingly ordinary day — ordinary, but extremely busy. Looking back I remember clearly not only the hectic rush, but the lesson I learned about being a mother.
It began at 5:30 a.m. We read our scriptures and prayed together, then my oldest sons Scot and Bret went to seminary and my daughter Jill went to her singing group. I then drove Dawn to school. When I arrived home I washed the dishes, swept the floors, vacuumed, folded towels and fed 2-year-old Jeanie a peanut butter sandwich. I attempted to dye a blue shower curtain mauve. It turned purple.
At 3:30 p.m., Dawn came home and tended Jeanie, and I was off. With the arrival of spring, soccer and baseball overlapped for a few weeks, which made our hassled race even more complicated. I met my husband Rich at Scot’s baseball game. After I watched Scot catch a fly in right field, I left to pick up Jill from an audition. She wasn’t finished yet so I went back to Scot’s game where I met Bret, who had just finished his soccer practice.
Rich left to take Bret to his baseball practice. He picked up Jill, drove her home, then returned to Scot’s game. I suddenly realized Dawn had to be to her piano lesson in five minutes. I raced home, noticing the gas gauge was on empty. I ignored it. After I dropped Dawn off, I headed toward the church to take Jill to a youth activity. Rich and Scot picked up Bret from his baseball practice and then dropped them off at the church because the boys also had a youth activity.
As Rich was heading home, he and I met halfway. We literally exchanged cars in the middle of the street. He took Jill to the church, then filled the car with gas. I went home and fixed tacos before we had to hurry to the country club for Dawn’s school performance. Dawn needed to be there early. She had put the clothes she needed in the station wagon, but by then Rich had the station wagon. I grabbed some other clothes for her and we headed out the door.
After I had dropped Dawn off for her program, I could hear the phone ringing as I pulled into our driveway. Rich had come home and was pretending not to hear the phone as he took the last bite of his taco. I answered in a hurry.
It was Dawn, saying, “Mom, I’ve only got one shoe!”
I ran and found the other one under the front seat. Rich took the shoe to Dawn while I took a moment to eat. Now it was time for us to go to Dawn’s performance. Jeanie had written all over her arms with a blue marker, then she had eaten some food coloring. Her mouth and face were green. I quickly washed her face and pulled a long sleeve shirt over her arms. We were out the door again and into the audience at the performance. “It’s a Grand Old Flag” never sounded so good, but we had to hurry out and pick up Scot, Bret and Jill from their church activity.
Home at last, my three teenagers made 15 tacos vanish in a hurry. About 10 p.m. I tucked them all in bed, taking a few minutes to listen — really listen to a 10-year-old's thrill of winning the spelling bee, a 13-year-old's challenges with her friends, a 15-year-old's excitement of making the high school soccer team, and a 17-year-old's panic of not knowing how to handle being in love with two girls at the same time.
As I said good night, I paused for a moment to contemplate that it was these quiet moments of loving and sharing — and especially listening — that made all the hustle and bustle worthwhile. Though I was tired, I was strengthened and felt the divinity of motherhood. I realized that out of everything I had done that day, the most important service I had given was to sincerely listen to my children.
President Dieter Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, stated in the October 2010 Semiannual General Conference, “Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light. ... It comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most.”
After I read “Hickery Dickery Dock” to my 2-year-old, I crawled in my own bed, pulled the covers over my head and said to myself, “I wonder what my day will be like tomorrow.”