In The Mommy Zone Column

My Imperfect Parenting Plan

We have a busy, involved family of eight, complete with a busy, hectic schedule.

Of course, I have it all under control… or at least I think I do.

I am an organizer, a meticulous planner. I mapped out my life before age 12, including when I married, when I graduated from college, and when my children would be born, each child spaced out evenly every two years.

So far, my life’s game plan has been accurate, for the most part.

As our four eldest sons mature, every two years I have been blessed to celebrate either a baptism, a priesthood advancement, or a treasured mother’s first date as each son in turn commemorates his 16th birthday.

Preparing my children to serve church missions has forever driven my mothering equation, embodying an ultimate goal for each child and, of course, equally distributing their service every two years—as my life’s planning guide demands.

Our oldest son completed an honorable mission and is now happily toiling away pursuing a college degree. Our second son departed for his mission a mere eight months ago, after finishing his freshman year in college, and is currently serving in a faraway, foreign land.

Our third son is a senior in high school, fully experiencing the best year of his young life in academics, sports, and music. Our three youngest children are happy and involved, just like I planned. Yes, things are functioning quite smoothly according to my “Mommy Zone” plan, or so I thought…

However, unbeknownst to me, our third son had created a different agenda, a vision that conflicted with my meticulous and omniscient maternal plan 22 years in the making, wreaking havoc upon my grandiose mothering timetable.

Just yesterday, he announced he made an appointment with our bishop to start his own mission application papers.

Wait, what?

My mind began to reel, questions incessantly barraging my thoughts.

You’re barely eighteen years old and still a senior in high school. You haven’t even heard from all of the universities you’ve applied to yet. What about all of the college scholarships you’ve earned? What about my two-year mission rotation plan? We already have a missionary serving from our family— how can I send another, simultaneously, so soon?

My head swirled from the unsettling scenarios clouding my judgment. I felt my heart bursting at the thought of sending another missionary off for an additional two long years. To be honest, I still hadn’t fully recovered from boarding our second son on a plane bound for a Central American mission last summer.

But then a clarifying thought immediately absolved my confusion.

Was it not my own meticulous plan, put in motion 22 years ago, to raise worthy children capable of serving honorable missions? Was it not my own desire to give them one of life’s greatest opportunities for personal growth and sacrifice?

I realized my third son’s altruistic mission plans couldn’t have been more perfectly timed at that poignant moment. I discovered that I must shelf my own antiquated, sentimental mothering designs for a time and quite possibly forever. I needed to fully support my son’s decision, whatever that entailed, even if it didn’t agree with my personal timetable.

We’ve been tremendously blessed to have two missionary sons serve. If we deliver a third, our family will be blessed beyond measure no doubt, especially if two brothers serve simultaneously.

I don’t know what will happen. Only time will tell. But I do know my old mothering planner will be shelved, deservedly retiring after two glorious decades, while my son and I fashion a new agenda—together.




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