Monday, July 19, 2010


So we made the huge sacrifice and got up after a mere 4 hours of sleep (2 for some family members, and me waked at least 5 times in those 4 hours), dragged everyone out of bed and into clothes, and made it to church. 4/6 of us made it to the sacrament. (I caught it later, during the 11:00 ward).

This was a MAJOR sacrifice and victory for us, especially with me pregnant.

See, church is at 2:00 am.

(That's 9:00 am for you diurnal folks, but 2:00 am according to our circadian rhythms).

We've often looked at the wards and wondered who would actually still be coming faithfully if they were ALL asked to be there at 2:00 am? Hopefully all of them, but when I hear someone say, "Oh, Sister So-and-So couldn't make it to teach her class because she didn't get off work until 4:00 am!", I don't have much sympathy.

So we were there, but I spent the whole time feeling pretty miserable. It didn't feel like a victory. Instead, we got there and I looked around and saw my little half-sleepy clan interacting with the world--a world who was alive after a full night's sleep and ready to rock at 9:00 am. A world who had no idea the challenges we face, and the battles we fought to get there, and who were judging us (or even just perceiving us) as though we were normal, when we're not. Even people who know we sleep wrong can't possibly really understand what it means in real life because it's just such a completely foreign thing. Everyone's met someone who has allergies--they can comprehend that. Nobody ever meets someone with a sleep disorder--especially a whole family of them! Especially since many people with sleep disorders just force themselves to live in the normal world and suffer for it in other ways.

I saw us through their eyes and was deeply embarrassed. All of us were in wrinkled clothes. I looked horrible. I couldn't remember if I'd even fixed my hair--I think I brushed it, but that's all--and my shirt was nappy and not formal enough for church. Nathanael didn't have shoes. Everyone else was in sports sandals. The three little boys didn't have their hair fixed. Benji's hair was so long it was ugly, and sticking out everywhere, and he still was coated with dirt from playing outside yesterday. Benji looked like we dragged him from a trash bin--his clothes were both faded and stained and belonged in the rag bag, not the church building. More than one child had dirt on their faces. And they all had this vacant look on their faces like we'd prepared them for church by giving them pot instead of peaches for breakfast.

Worse than our appearance, though, was the behavior that I know we were getting judged by ("Oh, those poor Jones kids! Don't their parents teach them anything? If it were MY kid, they'd never get away with that!"). Daniel was clingy, non-verbal (using sign language), unbelievably nervous. Benji just kept bursting out into tears or throwing a fit (he made the nursery say two prayers because he wanted to say one), and he was in and out of nursery over and over. Nathanael, who is now old enough for nursery, played for about 15 minutes and then said, "Done! Time go!" And he spent the rest of the meetings leading Tim up and down halls, sometimes with Benji and sometimes with Daniel, who was also in and out of classes. That doesn't sound so bad, but how many kids do you know that go in and out of sunday school multiple times in an hour and make their parents come, too? None. It's not socially acceptable.   Even the big kids, who are old enough to not misbehave or fall apart, were zombies. You'd never guess they are bright, happy, friendly, articulate children who have heard of the gospel before. And I was grouchy, teary, and couldn't form coherent sentences.  All of us ended up whispering in meetings, which is also not acceptable. And every time someone said, "Nice to see you here!", I wanted to say, "For you, maybe." And when they asked, "How are you feeling?" (a kindness, since I was so sick for so long), it was all I could do to say, "I'm here."

I desperately wanted to connect with my friends (I actually have a handful of wonderful friends who I adore in this ward), but I was too tired to make a sentence to talk to them.

Even knowing that everyone was NOT looking at us (because really, people are ALWAYS more concerned about what you are thinking of them than what they are thinking of you), I came home feeling like they were anyway. Even knowing that if they were busy criticizing us, they were living in their own misery and it didn't really affect us in the end, I was unhappy when I got home.

(Don't panic, those of you who are thinking of calling me to see if I need Lexipro: Sleep helped. (That's part of the problem....when you're sleep deprived, you can't process well and your brain acts like it has depression).)

I came  home with two distinct thoughts. One was that I greatly admire the prophets who were thrown in prison, starved and beaten, and STILL maintained their faith and composure. Having faith is hard enough. When you are physically suffering (or even just uncomfortable), it's all that much harder. Having enough sleep and enough food makes it easier to be kind, thoughtful, and righteous. So when the prophets could do it starved, beaten, and naked--I'm impressed with that.

The other thought was not for me. It was directed at all the imaginary people who were being critical of me in my mind. It was just this:

YOU try taking your family to church at 2:00 am!


Laura said...

*hugs* I'm sorry it was hard day for you! *more hugs*

Catherine (Jones) Carlson said...

I think you can definitely call being there a victory and even more so because of your sacrifice. The Lord knows and your kids do too that it's important. Good for you, Becca.

Brooke said...

It's all right! Benji, Daniel, and Nathaniel's behavior sounds like something I wouldn't even bat my eyes at, much less consider socially unacceptable. Really, it sounds like de rigeur behavior for a nursery class. I've known several families with kids who have required multiple pull-outs during Sunday School. One of my friends had to accompany her daughters to Nursery so much that she eventually gave up and just walked around the back of Relief Society with them. The kids eventually went to Primary . . . when they were four. But nobody thought my friend was being rude or strange, just doing what she had to do. If anything, we felt bad that she wasn't getting a break from her children (and since the girls wouldn't let anybody else carry them, we couldn't help out much).

And my own William is the kid who requires his Nursery class to do multiple prayers so he gets to do one too. After that, he pretends to be a dog for two hours straight. And nobody thinks it's weird at all. More of a funny anecdote, than anything.

I'm guessing that people aren't thinking as many negative things about your family as you think. They are probably more curious about you and wondering if there's anything they can do to help. (Hmm . . . too bad we don't do Midnight Mass like the Catholics, huh? :-) )

I remember the LDS historian Laurel Ulrich writing that she didn't cross the plains in the 19th century, but she drove a van full of kids through cross-town rush hour traffic in Boston to get to Primary every week, and that felt like the same thing. To her, "a pioneer is not a woman who makes her own soap," but someone who overcomes (seemingly unsurmountable) obstacles to do what's right. That's heroic. And so are you.