Without fail, my school teachers marked comment number four, “makes good use of time” on my report cards. I continued the trend through high school and college where I sailed through in three years and made good use of time by having a baby nine months after graduation.

Last year, one of our neighbors had a mission departure date for March 12th. Over and over, I told Ben, “That’s the worst planning ever. If his call was just one month later he could have finished the entire Winter Semester and he’d be that much ahead when he came home from his mission. He’s messing up the semester when he leaves and when he comes home. He’ll be so behind in his education!”

And yet, this fall, when Ben was deciding whether to finish the year or turn his papers as early as he could, I knew, I simply knew that I should sit back and let him make his own decision. He chose, of course, February 14th (his 19th birthday) as his availability date, thus ensuring that he would leave in the middle of one semester and come home smack dab in the middle of another one. So much for my efficient schooling plan.


Polishing off his last final on December 17th, Ben came home nearly three months before his March 16th departure. The lights in our home literally turned a notch brighter with his presence.

Christmas sailed by in a blur, and it wasn’t until last Monday when the littles went to school that Ben and I settled into a new rhythm. I cleaned the kitchen as he shoveled ashes out of the fireplace while we developed a plan: Sunday through Wednesday, he’s home– reading, sleeping in, shopping for the mission, cleaning the basement etc., Thursday-Saturdays are spent in Provo where he has a job and lots of friends.


There is much to do before he leaves, but plenty of time to do it. Waking when he’s rested, rather than to an alarm clock, Ben tutors Xander on the viola, laughs at Mary and Gabe’s before-school antics and plays concertos just for pleasure. He’s decided that watching every episode of Psych on Netflix is a good use of time and just in the last two weeks he reread the Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, A Grief Observed and The Great Divorce (we love C. S. Lewis at our house).


Ben is a bit apologetic about his hours on the couch but I tell him to savor it, enjoy it. Finals may be behind him but he’s about to enter the long, hard days of missionary work. These quiet seasons in life are so short and rare.

And now I feel a bit sorry for all the mommas that send out their boys between semesters and welcome them home just to have them race off to college, jobs, marriage, children..

Every mother and advice-giving grandmother knows that they grow too quickly; I have been granted a sweet reprieve from the relentless, often frantic, race of life. I can think of no better use of time.

January 10, 2011
January 17, 2011



  1. Rachelle

    January 13, 2011

    sounds like he planned it perfectly. Savor the days…

  2. Kerri

    January 13, 2011

    So wonderful. I think it would be fantastic to have a little respite before every major challenge in life.

    And can he come over and practice with Sophie? It might save our relationship. 🙂

  3. michelle

    January 13, 2011

    What a treasured time this is. And yes, yes, yes, this kind of time in life is SO rare. I still regret not heeding my future boss’s advice about not rushing to being my job after graduation. He knew that such times were so rare. I should have taken more time.

    And what a blessing that you get to spend it with him. If this isn’t a testimony of the strong feelings you have had about the need for you to focus on mothering at this stage in your life, I don’t know what is.

  4. Anne Marie

    January 13, 2011

    Absolutely beautiful. You are about the sweetest mama ever. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences and intent to enjoy the moments.

  5. Lisa

    January 13, 2011

    Ah…how smart of you both to absorb every moment of this respite together. His life will pack an intense pace soon enough and he will need these restful memories to keep him going. I am sure you both will always look back on this time as precious.

  6. seven smiles

    January 14, 2011

    brilliant post.
    you are a good mommy.


  7. Tasha

    January 14, 2011

    Psych, CS Lewis, and spending time with siblings? I don’t think there’s any better way for him to spend his time! I am sure going to miss coming home in the summers and having adventures with my family. Keep treasuring these times, for they leave all too quickly – for children and parents alike.

  8. Crystal Critchfield

    January 15, 2011

    Terrific post! The most precious commodity is time and it goes by all too quickly. Your handsome boy is going to make a wonderful missionary!

  9. Tracy

    January 15, 2011

    What a gift. Enjoy this very precious time, Michelle.

  10. Linn

    January 16, 2011

    What a beautiful gift for a mom. I am so grateful to have read this as I would have completely agreed with you on leaving between semesters and arriving home before the new one. What you wrote made me think completely different on that one. I’m so very grateful. As will my boys be when I let them make the decision. You are wonderful Michelle!

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