With the many changes the new mission ages bring to Mormon culture, I pray we can eliminate this phrase from our vernacular, “The time has just flown by!” usually accompanied by, “I can’t believe your son/daughter has been gone that long.”
Ask me how he’s doing. Ask me what city he’s serving in. Or don’t ask me at all. But please, please don’t say the time has flown by, because all I hear is, “I haven’t missed him one bit.”
I know, serving a mission is a privilege, just as bearing a child is a privilege and I know there are mothers who desperately wish their child was on a mission. During my pregnancies I threw up several times a day, suffered through varicose veins, false labor and all kinds of fun infections and complications. Because I was surrounded by friends suffering from infertility, I was careful not to complain but I still didn’t appreciate people saying, “Wow. You just pop out those babies like it’s nothing.”
The very few women who feel fantastic during pregnancy– healthier, happier, strong, glowing!– seem to speak loud and often, spreading the myth of easy pregnancies and slipping into their jeans they day after baby is born. In the same vein, I’ve met moms of missionaries who’ve crowed, “The time is just flying by.” Good for them, but please don’t assume it’s true for the rest of us.
I miss my boy. I miss his goofy expressions, his quick laughter, his Tarzan yell on days he’s especially happy and his creative projects spread across the floor. I miss discussing books with him, arguing about politics, finding a little stack of quarters by my computer when he’s purchased a new song on iTunes and swinging his little sister around the kitchen while he sings out loud.
Twenty months into his mission I’m dealing with the very real truth most people have forgotten him: his girlfriend, my ward, friends from school. And it’s OK. But I don’t want to hear about it. It’s especially not funny when someone argues with me, “This March? But surely you mean March of 2014. He just left!”
I know, four months to go is nearing the finish line but we are celebrating all the holidays, all of our birthdays without my boy. Wouldn’t you miss your child? And the minute he gets home, I’m sending the next one out.
In the past few weeks I’ve watched 18 and 19 year olds open calls to Nicaragua, Peru, Australia, England, Russia, Chile, Alaska and Oklahoma. All of these missionaries, all of these families need our love and support.
Speaking of a mission as a sacrifice isn’t culturally acceptable around Mormons, but my friends outside the church are amazed by the rules and requirements– “He’s not getting paid?” “He doesn’t get to choose where to go?” “You can’t call him or text or Skype?” “But you can visit, right?” “No movies or dating or even reading novels?” “Is his companion his best friend from high school?” no, no, no, no, no, no and no.
Let me clarify– I know people mean well and I’ve never been offended by their comments. I simply feel a bit rubbed raw hearing ‘the time is flying by’ over and over and over.
While we are at it, let’s push the delete button on, “You’re look like you’re going to pop.” towards pregnant women, “God must have needed them more than you.” to someone who’s lost a loved one, “Why aren’t you married yet?” towards single friends and “When are you going to have a baby?” to young couples.
Hmm, a simple “How are you?” may be the best greeting of all.
What phrases and questions would you like to see eliminated?
How can we best support each other in wards and families?