I always look forward to the first weekends of April and October. In my mind, General Conference weekend is a time when I sleep in late, eat good food, get religious instruction from the comfort of my couch, doze between (but never during) sessions, take notes, wear pajamas instead of pantyhose, and end the weekend physically and spiritually fed and full of resolve to get me through the next six months.
It’s Sunday night now, and I feel more frazzled than fed. We tried our best to watch Conference, really we did. My kids are little (ages 8-2) so on Saturday I decided not to be too dictatorial about forcing them to watch. But we were all bathed and dressed and positioned in front of the television at 11am. The familiar strains of the organ filled the house and we listened eagerly as Neil Andersen was called to the Quorum of the Twelve. The positive streak lasted through talks by Elder Hales and Sister Lifferth, but 40 minutes was as long as we could sustain our run. Our toddler needed a nap, the big kids wanted lunch, we were out of milk, and I needed to make a trip to the bank before it closed. If I recorded the rest of the session and ran errands, I reasoned, I’d still have time to catch up before the afternoon session started.
It was all downhill from there. My husband had to run into work, so the talks served as background noise while little boys fought and I read story after story to a cranky toddler (she never got that nap). About halfway through the session, I snapped off the television in frustration. I couldn’t hear a word over my oldest son’s recorder practice (the screechiest instrument ever), and seeing the peaceful conference center and the calm faces of the speakers only heightened the “so close, but yet so far” experience I was having.
Although we’re pretty laid-back on Saturday, everyone in our house must be present for the Sunday morning session. So we all lined up on the couch again this morning, and it was pretty much a repeat of yesterday. We started out strong, maintaining reverence during President Uchtdorf’s talk, but by the end of Elder Andersen’s message, I had bruises on my thighs from the two kids who’d spent the last fifteen minutes bouncing across my lap. During Sister Thompson’s talk we had a reading-related meltdown, a broken toilet, and fire ant infestation that needed to be dealt with. The tv stayed on until 1pm, but I didn’t hear anything else that anyone said. Then, this afternoon, just as I was getting ready to rally the troops for another two hours of torture instruction, our realtor called and wanted to show the house. Was it frustration or relief I was felt? I couldn’t tell.
Eight hours of General Conference, and I got one good hour out of it, spread over two mornings. Tonight, instead of feeling spiritually fed, I feel like I have a lot of homework to do. I know this is just a season of my life, and it too shall pass, but I hate that I’m more familiar with our church building’s halls than its chapel, and that even when we have church on tv, getting something from it still feels out of my reach.
Sure, there’s always the Ensign, the internet, and even reruns on my television, so I know that I can catch up on what I missed, if I’m willing to make the effort. I didn’t have to walk through the snow, strain to hear the words through an interpreter or even sit on a hard bench in the chapel to get General Conference. I’m pretty lucky. But this Conference weekend, I’m wondering if I have it too easy– if my kids and I had to sacrifice to hear the words of our prophets and apostles, would we value it more?