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|How To Live Your Religion|
May. 19th, 2012 at 9:34 am
By all outward measurements, I am not a super religious person. Religiosity requires discipline, something I have yet to master. The whole read your scriptures, pray morning and night and every meal (Really? Does that include snacks, too?) , attend the temple at least monthly, do VT/HT, attend all church meetings, do family history work, yada, yada, yada. It takes some serious attention to pull it all off. I do the best I can and fully expect the Atonement to give me a boost in my ratings on the other side.
The only part of Mormon Religious Life that I have mastered (and have been referred to as a Guru of by some) is the awesomeness of Friday Night Date Night. It started for me like it does most people, I imagine. Friday night is the beginning of the weekend, time to shake off the dust of a hard work week and let down your hair. That worked fab for me until I had babies. Babies do not care about Mom’s need for Friday Night relaxation and our poor student budget could not afford a babysitter. Not that we could have found one anyway.
We lived in married student housing on campus and that oft-quoted idea about couples swapping babysitting so everyone gets an evening out without paying for it is exactly what it sounds like – stupid. No one in their right mind would regularly volunteer to watch another family’s kids on a Friday night. On Saturday afternoon at the playground, fine. But not in the evening after a long week of school, homework and a crappy minimum wage job on campus. All anyone wanted to do was close their apartment door to the world, put their own kids to bed early and sit numbly in front of the tv, hopefully with an opportunity to get lucky before falling asleep, if you know what I mean.
After years and years of Dating Deprivation, our kids had the decency to finally get old enough that we could leave them alone. That small insignificant fact of human biology was such a huge game changer for Rob and I. Children who could be expected to take care of themselves for an hour at a time! Eureka! The Gods above had finally smiled down on our struggling, stressed family and given Mommy and Daddy the gift of freedom. We started slowly, holding our breath, expecting it to be too good to last. Our first dates consisted of going to Wal-mart to buy toilet paper in peace. Then we expanded to hitting Dairy Queen drive thru on the way, careful to keep it small so there would be no leftover evidence of the fun Mom and Dad were having without their precious offspring. Nothing is worse than the wrath of a suspicious child who thinks they might have been excluded from having a treat.
As the kids hit junior high and then high school, we relaxed and became more brazen, openly admitting to eating at restaurants the children had never seen the insides of. We brought home doggie bags of mysterious healthy food that the children would sniff cautiously, checking for vegetable traps. If they wanted the leftovers, we shared. It was a small price to pay for several hours of unfiltered, honest adult communication.
While on dates we talked about our work, our children, our friends, the economy, and politics all sprinkled with plenty of flirting. I thought Rob had fully embraced the gospel of Friday Night Date Night, realizing the amazing transformation it brought about in me. I morphed from a snarling, clawing hunched over beast into a beautiful, serene Queen on Friday night.
I was wrong. He did not appreciate the absolute necessity it had become for my mental health and his well-being for him to get me the- heck -out -of -Dodge on Friday nights.
Rob got called to be the Elder’s Quorum President in a small, struggling ward which was located in a small, struggling town full of families all struggling in their own ways. He embraced the opportunity to be a strong leader, desiring to nurture the discouraged menfolk. His new calling took time. Lots of it. Meetings, personal interviews, exhortations on improving dismal Home Teaching numbers, Sunday lessons and talks, and volunteering to make pancakes for the 4th of July ward breakfast all take lots of precious time. But at least we had Friday Night Date Night.
Until the night he was dumb enough to do the unthinkable. He scheduled an Elder’s Quorum Presidency Meeting at our house on Friday night. I know. I know exactly what you are thinking. What??????!!!!! Exactly.
When he casually informed me during a phone call about something else, that the guys were coming over for a very important meeting that evening, and could I please keep the kids quiet during this most important meeting so they could have important conversations about important things, my mind started hatching a diabolical plan to express my feelings about this whole important nonsense.
I prepared the kids favorite Friday night supper ahead of time. Mac and cheese from a box with hot dogs on the side, no actual living foods included, please. Washed down with cheap generic root beer that made them belch and I didn’t care because I usually wasn’t home to hear it, with it being Friday Night Date Night and all. I fed the kids and shooed them to the family room to watch children’s tv until their little eyeballs rotted out, another in a list of fine Friday Night Date Night traditions at our house.
As Rob’s manly menfolk arrived and began socializing in the front room, I began implementing my plan. I carefully and quietly took out the exotic vegetables I had to drive to a neighboring town to get since our local grocery store carried only potatoes, onions and beer. I began chopping produce as the pan heated up, preparing to receive the expensive cut of meat I had been marinating all afternoon in flavors guaranteed to make men drool. I propped open the door between the front room and kitchen, so the boys could clearly hear and smell the goodness coming from my efforts.
After about 20 min., while the food was simmering delightfully in the pan, I slipped quietly upstairs, passing the room where the men were sitting, taking note they were still shooting the bull and hadn’t done one important thing yet. I changed into a nice dress, put on fresh make up and did my hair. I then descended down the back stair case and went out the back door so I could get into the kitchen without being detected. I could still hear casual conversation happening in the front room.
45 minutes into my plan, I heard the first audible acknowledgement of my existence. I heard one of the men say “Boy Rob, that sure smells good. Is your wife making us a snack?” I heard laughter and then a muted response from Rob which I interpreted as “What smell? I am so busy being the Lord’s Servant I have completely forgotten the most important commandment of all – Thou Shall Not Screw with Friday Night Date Night.”
As the food finished cooking and I dished out two plates, the comments from the front room came more easily. “Wow! Does something smell good.”, “I’m getting hungry in here.”, “Are you trying to torture us?”, etc. As a matter of fact, yes, I am. I am trying to get all you male lunk heads to understand that not only do you not mess with my Friday Night Date Night, you should all be at home with your own wives, enjoying your own Friday night instead of cramping up mine.
I picked up the two plates, carefully balancing a knife and fork draped over the food on each, and squared my shoulders. With a toss of my date hair, I walked to the doorway of the front room and announced, “Howdy boys! I hate to interrupt your important meeting but tonight is Friday Night Date Night and I have Rob’s and mine dinner all ready. How much longer do you think you will be?” There was a momentary stunned silence and then in unison they all stood up, grabbing papers and apologizing to me. “Sorry Sister Young. We didn’t know it was Date Night.” All of them fled the house. Rob looked at me, I could tell a bit peeved that I ended his important meeting. He made the wise choice to start laughing instead. Rob got teased for a few weeks about his Friday Night Date Night, but I like to think a lesson was learned by all.
I may not have all the rituals of a spiritual life fully implemented yet, but I know what is important. I hope you do, too.