lag time

Every afternoon, Ben flops into my red chair, opens the laptop, checks this blog and barks, “Mom, you need to write!”

And I’m flattered really, that he cares, that he takes interest in my ramblings and my pictures. It’s a gift to have an almost 18 year old son that cares about my life and my friends (oh yes, he reads YOUR blog too).

I have plenty to write about, hundreds of photos that I’d love to post, but I’m overwhelmed right now, desperately treading water and working my way through each day’s to-do list. I’m not a TV-watcher (not by virtue, simply by disinterest), but I find myself rushing past my television and looking at it longingly, thinking how nice it would be to sit, to turn off my brain and let my tired muscles sink into my soft leather couch.

Sometimes, I forget that six children are a full-time job and those are the times that I add in other things. But at the beginning of a school year, when I am signing papers and going to meetings and writing dozens of checks and running to the store for one more special folder or a pair of shoes without holes in the bottom– those are the times that I wonder that I take on anything else.

My children are enough. I wish I had nothing to do but play with them and create delicious dinners to share and plan fun weekends. I’ve often longed for a serene personality without the drive to accomplish, to create, to extend myself beyond my limits.

I limped out of the gym the other morning, settled into my car and buried my head into the steering wheel in sobs. I had just reinjured my calf muscle and the short walk to the car made my leg throb in pain. Mentally, I went through the day’s tasks: clean up the house for scripture group, a Young Women’s activity, dinner for a neighbor, a bike riding lesson for Mary…

With a renewed gratitude for my cell phone, I called my sister and choked out my sorrows between sniffles and wails, “I’m trying so hard, but everything I do goes wrong: I’m trying to exercise and I injure myself, I’m trying to be a good mother but I keep forgetting things, I’m trying to be a great Young Women’s President but I keep making mistakes, I’m trying to be a good friend but I know I’m offending people because I’m so tired, no mater how hard I work on photography, I can’t catch up**! I love my Scripture Study Group, but I can’t get my house clean on time.”

Ruth listened and agreed, and in her wise and quiet way said, “You’re forgetting about lag time.”


“Everything you do has a lag time. It takes a while for your efforts to pay off. Like when you go on a diet– you don’t lose weight right away, it takes a few weeks for your body to drop some pounds. Once people understand that you love them, they’ll forgive your mistakes. For some things the lag time is weeks, for others it’s years or even decades. But things do get better. Things will get better.”

I hung up tearfully, said a prayer and drove home to cry on my husband’s shoulder before tidying up the house. At Scripture Group I told my friends that I was drowning. It was hard to say out loud and as soon as the words spilled out I wanted to pull them back in and hide them. But they loved me and they understood. We’ll be studying the Doctrine & Covenants in my messy house on Tuesdays, 10 a.m. You’re invited. Kids are welcome.

Throughout the next few days calls and phone calls came in from friends who just wondered about me. And I laughed when I delivered dinner to a neighbor and came home to find a homemade lasagna on my own front porch.

I had thought that God expected me to keep rushing and working and trying, and then, He would give me a break. But instead, I had to give myself a break, to let go and give in.

Already, the mantra is coming true– things are getting better, things are getting better.

And Miss Mary wobbled on her bike and then soared. It was like watching an infant’s crooked smile or a baby’s first unsteady steps. It was like a miracle. Like hope.

** I’m pretty behind on my photo shoots; I’m still photographing individuals and couples (or weddings) but I won’t be taking any family photos this fall.
August 31, 2009
September 9, 2009



  1. jennie w.

    September 7, 2009

    Six kids are a full time job? Crap, I’ve only been doing it part time. That explains a lot . . . . (including why my eight year old still can’t ride a bike.)

  2. Selwyn

    September 7, 2009

    Mary looks so delighted in her riding – way to go!

    Remember to breathe, okay? And give yourself a little slack. If you don’t, you’ll end up having a kangaroo loose in the top paddock, which makes you act like a bloody galah. Not pretty, mate, not pretty =)

  3. La Yen

    September 7, 2009

    I love that idea of lag time. I needed to hear that today. Thank you.

  4. Blue

    September 7, 2009

    with the whirlwind trip to CA and the power outtage today, i’m just getting caught up on posts, and just read your comment on Segullah (when I was too overwhelmed to write about being overwhelmed) which I thought “Ohh! Michelle’s got to write about this!” SO i came here to tell you that you need to write about this, and lo, here you have!

    so for me this may be good news. do you think god would actually injure your leg so you couldn’t run so that i could have someone to get out and go for walks with? cause i’m really in a deep rut, but all my friends are SuperStar athletes, and i’m still in the limping around from walking up the stairs to the Hollywood Bowl level of fitness.

    does your universe really revolve around me?

    i’m so kidding. but if you aren’t running and would like to walk, please let me know. and we ♥ you and having SG at the SC will be perfect. you’ve been beyond generous these past 5 years. you’ve blessed countless lives.

    i still don’t know how you find time to write such beautiful posts. but i suspect that since you’ve got a clear knack for naming posts, you just have a knack for writing in general. it CAN’T take you as much time to produce your masterpieces as it does most people. I’ve always been in awe of you. and grateful that with all your amazing traits, you still have time to share them with others.

    i think i need more pressing, urgent deadlines and stuff in my life so that i have to have lag time. as it is i’ve got lazy time and it’s always been easiest to be productive with my time when i have a lot on my plate.

  5. katieo

    September 7, 2009

    oh how I love your blog! I never comment but I need to start because I probably should tell you how much your life -both the ups and the downs- inspires me. And your beautiful photos. Love those, too.

    I love the way you write so openly and beautifully about the struggles with your mom and raising a family. I am a mom to four boys and am continually reminded when I read your posts that I don’t need to let the beautiful things get squished out of my life by transformers and light sabers. There is beauty all around. 😉

    so thanks.

  6. Christie

    September 7, 2009

    Hang in there, mama. It’ll settle down soon, I promise.

  7. Linn

    September 8, 2009

    I think Ruth is one of the wisest people I know. I miss her and wish so much we still lived close. Thank you for this post. It is exactly what I needed.

  8. Tracy

    September 8, 2009

    Go Mary Go!!! Hang in there – you do so much…don’t be hard on yourself. I love ya. ..and OMG he reads my blog…I will try to clean up my language a bit. 😉

  9. m_and_m

    September 8, 2009

    I. Love. You.

    I’ve often longed for a serene personality without the drive to accomplish, to create, to extend myself beyond my limits.

    Oh, yeah, did this speak to me.

    And so did this:

    I had thought that God expected me to keep rushing and working and trying, and then, He would give me a break. But instead, I had to give myself a break, to let go and give in.

    I am back in the mode of forgetting this, so it’s good to read your words.

    Did I mention that I love you? And I love your writing?

  10. Reluctant Nomad

    September 8, 2009

    Ah….lag time. Yes RUTH. You nailed it.

    And Mary–cute shoes. Do they come in big girl sizes?

  11. martha corinna

    September 8, 2009

    I know. I’m waiting for the lag philosophy to kick in.Beautifully written Michelle.

    Don’t worry about Wednesday, I certainly don’t want to make things more overwhelming. I probably just need to pray more anyway.

  12. Linkous

    September 8, 2009

    well, you know how much I needed this if you read the last post on our blog. Kev’s been trying to get me to give myself a break for the past 11 years :). He told me this morning that you written a post just for me to read today. Thank you!

  13. Jan Russell

    September 9, 2009

    Oh that bike is SO cute, and the rider, even cuter! Get those legs feeling better so you can go out and enjoy the fresh air with her!

    Your sister sounds like just the phone-a-friend lifeline, we all need!

  14. Sage

    September 10, 2009

    Your sister’s words made me cry. I guess I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear that when someone knows you love them they will forgive you. I’ve been struggling with my oldest son, so hearing that gave me hope. Thank you and your sister.

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