Being a parent does not make me a better person; however, it does make it more difficult to deny my flaws. All of my flaws are magnified in the behavior and thoughts of my children, and when I watch them I understand my Father in Heaven and myself just a little bit more.
My 11-year-old son had 70 minutes before he had to leave the house. To me, that meant he had 30 minutes to get his homework out and simply figure out what needs to be done, and 40 minutes to get dressed for his destination. Based on how the morning was going, I was setting the bar low. I had no hope that he would actually get work done. I told him to get his homework set up on the table and take a look at it. Instead, he decided to take 10 minutes in the bathroom, and then another 10 minutes getting dressed. I called out for him, and he thought he had a perfect defense.
A few minutes later, he was in the bathroom again, and another 10 minutes went by. He had one shoe on, and then spent the next 40 minutes looking for his other shoe and arguing with his Dad about WHERE to look for the shoe. He even went so far as to pick up the dirty clothes in his room in order to look for his shoe. This is just how badly he did not want to do homework. He got out the door having never touched his homework and never finding his shoe. In fact, he had to wear shoes that were less than appropriate for the occasion. But he and his Dad got out the door.
In the evening, after both kids had done enough chores that I ran out of new ideas, I stopped him and looked him in the eye. I said, “You aren’t as smart as you think you are. You were stalling this morning in order to not do homework. I know this because I did the same thing as a kid – all the time.” And for once in his life, my son didn’t say anything.
My son was doing something good. He was getting dressed. He was looking for his shoes and picking up his dirty clothes. These are all good things. And he was doing the necessary thing – using the bathroom. What could Mom possibly say about that? However, he was still essentially being disobedient. I had asked him to do one thing because I had a long-term plan for him for the next 70 minutes. And he thought he knew better, so he wasted those 70 minutes. When he came home, he still had homework and chores to do, so essentially all he did was waste his own time. His parents eventually won the battle.
`Do any of these sound familiar?
“Sorry honey, I know we need to talk about that issue, but I can’t. I need to get some work done.”
“I’d love to sit and talk about our household budget, but I promised [someone] I’d do [something].”
“Yes, I know I should pray. But I’m tired and I should really go to bed.”
“I wish I could accept that assignment at church, but I’ve got [this] and [this] going on.”
I’m sure you have your personal favorites — excuses you create in your head to justify doing one good thing instead of another.
Personally, my favorite excuse is my kids. I’m a working mom, so time is scarce as it is. For years, I’ve been terrified that spending one hour visiting someone in need instead of spending it with my children will someone how ruin my children. All hope is lost!
Yes, my kids are important. They are very important to me, and work is a necessity. The fact that I happen to love my work only makes the necessity easier to handle. Kids and work are good, healthy things to spend your time on. However, on the rare occasion when I’m gone on business travel, I come home to a much more appreciative family. I know that my family could probably survive without me for at least a week, maybe even two or three. Things may not be done my way, but no tragedies would occur. And yet, my favorite “go-to” excuse to avoid an hour of service is “I need to be with my kids.”
My second favorite excuse is [any chore] at home. Which is laughable, if you examine my house. There is always a list that never goes away. Keeping the kitchen, laundry, and bills caught up is hard enough – let alone everything else. All good things, all necessary things – and all things that can be used as excuses for disobedience. I will say “No” to things with the intent to stay home and do some chore I’ve been putting off – and guess what? I still put it off and I stall on the one thing I intended to do. Often I will even find other things to do instead when I’m home.
Following Heavenly Father’s Long-term Plan for Us
We all have excuses for not getting our taxes done earlier than April 15th, for not praying on our knees as often as we should, for not serving others as often as we feel prompted, for not making and keeping a budget, for not exercising, for not fulfilling our volunteer assignments or our callings/assignments at church.
And yes, I’m the writer who talks about balance and pacing yourself. However, I think we could all benefit from a little more honesty with ourselves. Why did you REALLY say “No” to that request?
Just remember that your Father in Heaven has a long-term plan for you, so don’t waste your 70 minutes. A counter full of the worst dishes only takes 20 minutes to wash if you put your heart into it (yes, I timed it today). And its amazing how much laundry can get folded while I watch my favorite crime show on TV.
Molly A. Kerr
Molly is on a life long quest to figure herself out. Born to be and educated as an aerospace engineer she is also blessed to be a wife and a mom of two in the present, previously served as a full-time missionary, is consistently called to teach the youth in her ward, is eagerly though slowly doing home improvement as money and time allow, all while gradually learning how to be herself and find peace and balance somewhere in between. Despite her attempts to make “the right” decisions in her life, she has learned to deal with some unexpected challenges over the last two decades. Total tornadoes, really. What she has discovered is that her career has taught her a lot about the Gospel and being a better mother, and the Gospel, when applied to challenges at the office, has made her a better professional. She has also learned that it is okay to be herself, and God still loves (and forgives) her for it.