Dear Ben

The old video games and puzzles sit neglected in the corner; I’ve nestled into the old beige sectional and kicked my feet up on one of the tables while you get your pre-mission dental check-up. It’s the same office we’ve been coming to since you were a toddler and broke your front tooth in the bathtub. Carrying you into the office in a mess of blood and tears, I hiccuped with mothergrief as the dentist assured me that a silver tooth would be utterly charming.

It was.


I keep that little tooth in my jewelry box. It will forever remind me of your impish little boy face, that blond bowl-cut hair.

How did we get here so quickly? Not just this appointment that was scrawled on the calendar months ago, but here, ready to take two years for a mission.

I’ve thought about this time since you were born, since before you were born. To a Mormon mommy “It’s a boy!” equals “It’s a missionary!” And through the years of singing “I hope they call me on a mission..,” walking to church and reading scriptures we never considered (and I don’t think you did either) that you wouldn’t go.

You couldn’t be more eager, anxious to put in your papers on the first day possible. But now I’m wondering if I have enough faith. Do I really trust these men in suits to look at a photo of my boy and truly know where he should spend the next two years of his life? A mission defines a man in so many ways; will they be able to see who you really are? Send you where you can do the most good? Will a weekly email and two phone calls a year sustain my mother heart?

Dr. Poulsen just scolded me that you haven’t been flossing regularly. I looked from his face to yours and almost giggled. This is the last time you’ll have a dentist reporting to you mother; you’ll need to find a grown-up dentist when you get home who will berate you right to your face (But floss, boy, please do. You’ve inherited my chalky, cavity prone enamel.) My breath caught and I nearly burst into tears when Dr. Bentley handed me your growth chart this afternoon. All those years of heights and weights– you spent so many years in the 20th percentile, can you believe you finally ended up in the 65th? Betcha’ a nickel that you grow two inches on your mission too.

I was so flurried, flustered by all the mission paperwork and tests and signatures. By the time Gabriel goes I’ve have it down (or will all the rules have changed by then?). As always, you are pushing me into new territory, tipping the first tile in a domino reaction of one missionary after another for the next dozen years.

Oh my, the next few weeks might do me in. I love you. I miss you.


October 4, 2010
October 8, 2010



  1. sarah

    October 6, 2010

    Oh the joys of getting a missionary ready- I can’t even imagine but know my time will be here before I know it which is scary. Good Luck with all that. What a fine young man Ben is. I’m sure those younger boys and little gal just miss his guts. hope you are well.

  2. seven smiles

    October 6, 2010

    This made me teary. I have an almost nineteen year old who is opting for an extra semester of school, but I’d better start thinking about all those appointments. The picture especially made me teary looking at those little faces. I remember my little faces, and they don’t really look like that any more. It always shocks and surprises me when I realize this. (Mom goggles and all…) Where DOES the time go? The silly, unabashed make-believe play, the squeaky little voices, the exuberant hugs that sometimes almost knock you over… I don’t miss the diapers and no sleep, but I think I just might miss everything else.

  3. Tasha

    October 6, 2010

    It’s one of the hardest things you have to do…but so, so worth it.

  4. FoxyJ

    October 7, 2010

    My husband and I married slightly less than a year after returning from our missions. That should scare you 🙂 My oldest is only seven, but when I look at her I think that time is flying. As I get older I feel a little sad that I was so anxious to leave my house and go to college and then on a mission and never really stopped to consider how my mom felt about all of it.

  5. k hansen

    October 7, 2010

    Oh my goodness, this post made me cry. My oldest -a boy- just turned 8 and dealing with his baptism was more than I could handle! I was a sobbing mess through the entire service. I can’t imagine what helping him prepare for a mission is gonna to do me. You have such an eloquent way of writing. I love reading your posts. You have such a beautiful family.

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