Before I had a family, I didn’t even do dishes on the Sabbath. I could cook the day before, and get my legalism on and really rest on the Sabbath. It was way harder than you might think, and forced me to consider what good I could do rather than just all the stuff I wasn’t allowed to do.
Having a husband added the need for hot meals, so I took hints from my Jewish friends who even for their whole families will do as much preparation as possible ahead of time. The standard crockpots and casseroles also helped, which had the added bonus of providing leftovers for later in the week. Not the whole week like when I was single, but a few days.
Until kids, which meant no leftovers ever.
It would be much easier to come home from church and send the kids outside and just hide from them, or park them in front of the TV and do my own thing… But I really do have a testimony of the Sabbath and what good it can do us and promised blessings for that particular obedience.
That’s why our day of rest is actually a day of really hard work, being extra present with the children and focusing on spiritual things and learning things as we can. We still get some rest, while we work, as Nathan reads them stories while I clean the kitchen, and I hold a little pretend sign language class while he naps. We do the sign language class outside at the picnic table, so they get to be outside even though we can’t play, and because maybe it will let Nathan and the baby sleep.
The kids love helping me cook and helping me clean up, and tonight we have a little more than usual.
Because tomorrow is our final home inspection before the adoption, and it is one of those rare times when everything really does depend on everything being perfect.
Except it isn’t, of course.
But it is our best, and the kids helped.
And just when we would love to pretend it is the weekend, and just crash, and park them with a movie (we don’t have TV and they only watch a movie on family night on Fridays), we instead gather in the living room for games and then prayers and then blessings.
And then, after the babies are done, the older three pile up on us on the couch for stories.
They love stories.
And they love the piling up for cuddles.
And we talk about how it is the Sabbath, so not the night for superheroes or fancy nancy or Winnie the Pooh.
We introduce our new set of children’s books about the prophets of this dispensation, and tell them we will read through them on Sunday nights and that there is also a movie about the life of each prophet that we can watch after we finish each book.
They are excited at first, because I said movie, and the bewildered to think the prophets were once children.
That’s the point, I say, the prophets and even Heavenly Father and the Savior once lived lives just like ours, in their own time and place, and they had to learn to make good choices just like we are learning now.
Except they were better at it, Five adds.
They were better at it, I laugh, then add, but they only care that we keep trying. That’s all that matters: that we try. They will help us do the rest.
Because they already know, Five days.
Yes, I say.
Because they love us a lot and want us to be happy, Five says.
It’s true, I say.
And I am glad he knows it, that he is loved so much.
I think, then, when Nathan and I finally get date night after all the little ones are down, I think it means more because we worked so hard to parent well. Our rest is real because our work was sincere. The blessing is powerful because the offering was authentic.
Even if we didn’t get all the parenting exactly right, and still have a lot to learn.
Because all that matters is that we just keep trying.