Recently at church, we sat in front of one of the coolest families in our ward. You could tell that their kids were having one of those days. The mom seemed to be dealing with the brunt of the battle, which is not an uncommon sight in a Sunday sacrament meeting. About 15 minutes later, that same mom came walking toward me in the hall, trying to hold the hand of an inconsolable toddler. As we passed each other in the hall, she looked at me with a face of exhaustion and quietly said, “I need a day off!” It made me think for a second. Do moms get a Sabbath day? Do they get a day of rest? Or a day to feel the Spirit? For many moms the answer would be an unequivocal NO!
We've heard a lot of talk about the Sabbath day recently—and for good reason. But I wonder if I've been overlooking one of the most important things that I can do on the Sabbath—namely, help my wife actually have a Sabbath day. President Nelson recently said that he believes that God wants “us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal.”
Does my wife ever have the “opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal”? She doesn't even need to answer that question because the answer is obvious to me. The thing is, moms are generally amazing. They typically endure and serve without immediate reward or recognition. They’re not squeaky wheels, which means, unfortunately, they don’t always get the grease.
I grew up in a home where my mom just did stuff. She didn't complain while she was serving everyone day and night seven days a week. She just did it. Now I have a wife who does the same. She doesn't even think twice or flinch at the sign of what I would consider insurmountable workloads during the week. But then when we get to Sunday, it’s just another one of those days. She needs a break, but she doesn't even consider it. She just continues giving her life to us—and I’ve got to do better. “Is the Sabbath day a delight for me and for you?” asks President Nelson. Moms don’t stop to think about it. They just keep moving.
So my wife and I were watching our kids swim on Saturday and it seemed like a good time to ask her how I could help make the Sabbath day a delight for her. I said to her, sort of timidly, “Hey hun, if you could describe the ideal Sabbath day to me, what would it be?” She didn't even have to think about it. Bam. One thing after another. It took her about 1.5 seconds to rattle off a list of things. She was excited just at the thought of me asking her this sort of question. I asked her to slow down while I grabbed my phone to start typing some notes.
“If I could have my wish for a perfect Sabbath day,” she continued, “it would contain these things” (in no particular order):
1. A Good Meal
Yes, moms like to eat on Sunday too. But maybe, just maybe, they don't want to cook that meal. Some guys either like to cook or possess infinite amounts of emotional intelligence and have learned that Mom probably already cooked six or more meals this week. (You'll see these special men riding chariots into heaven with Elijah at their side.) But seriously, even if you stink at cooking, just the attempt to make a meal and serve it to your wife and family will rest her tired feet and lift her spirit. Sunday is a great day to make a meal for a tired mom. When I perform gestures like this, it’s as if a visible light glows from within her. Spiritual and physical renewal is taking place.
2. A Clean House
Sometimes the house can take a beating throughout the week. Saturday comes quick and we’re off doing things. Kids sports, activities, etc. You know how it goes. But then Sunday morning comes. Kids are throwing clothes around trying to find that lost shoe, and everyone is running late. The bathrooms are destroyed from everyone getting ready, and that mess isn’t going to clean itself while everyone’s at church. It would take me 5–10 minutes to enlist the kids to follow me in helping tidy up a bit so that the Spirit can dwell in the home on Sunday.
3. A Little “Me” Time
Remember that woman in the hall at church I referenced earlier who needed a day off? Interesting that my wife shared this same sentiment when I asked her to describe her ideal Sabbath. Moms rarely, if ever, get “days off.” And most of them aren’t asking for an actual day off. Most of them love their life and love their kids. If they left, they’d just miss them and want to come home. But what they do want once in a while is a little “me” time, just some time to think, to stretch, to breathe, to bathe, to study, or to nap in peace. Sunday, it appears, happens to be a great day to carve out some “me” time for my wife.
4. Bonding Time with the Family
The weekdays are busy. Saturdays are busier. The Sabbath was given to slow us down and cause us to ponder the things that are of most importance—the things of heaven. When Mom envisions heaven, she pictures her family together, happy, laughing, conversing, enjoying each other, and bonding. "Bonding" does not consist of throwing on the football game, dropping the recliner, and going in and out of sleep consciousness until dinner’s ready. Sunday is a day to focus on God, and it’s hard to focus on God without focusing on family. Family unity is the object and design of God’s plan, and if God had any specific plans in mind for the Sabbath, I believe it was to bring families closer together. To bind families might just be one of the primary purposes of the Sabbath.
5. Daddy-Driven Devotional
When I slack, my wife pulls the weight. She’s always there if we’ve forgotten to pray. When I'm beaten down by the residue of a long and stressful Monday, and I've all but forgotten about family home evening, there she is to fill in the gaps. She reminds me of just how important it is for our kids to hear their dad teach the doctrine and bear testimony. For her, the crowning event of our family’s Sabbath would be when I initiate and drive Spirit-filled conversations that lead our kids closer to Christ. Lessons at church are great, and sharing time is fun, but to her there is something divine about a dedicated father pulling down the powers of heaven in the home. She watched her dad do it, and now it’s up to me to carry on that righteous tradition.
These five things that my wife quickly listed as attributes of her ideal Sabbath day are not that hard for me to do. Not hard at all. And maybe I can’t get them perfectly right every single Sunday, but I can definitely “try a little harder to be a little better,” as President Hinckley used to say. Sometimes Mom appears to be invincible, but her battery could use a fresh charge once in a while, whether she admits it or not. Many moms long to have the Sabbath become a delight once again. I think it’s time we help make that happen!