Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Patti gets up very early and says her personal prayers. She zips her slim, vigorous body into her warm-up suit and tiptoes outside to run her usual five miles (on Saturday she does ten). Returning home all aglow, she showers and dresses for the day in a tailored skirt and freshly starched and ironed blouse. She settles down for quiet meditation and scripture reading before preparing the family breakfast. The morning's menu calls for whole wheat pancakes, homemade syrup, freshly squeezed orange juice, and powdered mile (the whole family loves it).
With classical music wafting through the air, Patti awakens her husband and ten children. She spends a quiet moment with each and helps them plan a happy day. The children quickly dress in clothes that were laid out the night before. They cheerfully make their beds, clean their rooms, and do the individual chores assigned to them on the Family Work Wheel Chart. They assemble for breakfast the minute mother calls.
After family prayer and scripture study, the children all practice their different musical instruments. Father leaves for work on a happy note. All too soon it is time for the children to leave for school. Having brushed (and flossed) their teeth, the children pick up coats, book bags, and lunches which were prepared the night before and arrive at school five minutes early.
With things more quiet, Patti has story time with her pre-schoolers and teaches them a cognitive reading skill. She feeds, bathes, and rocks the baby before putting him down for his morning nap. With baby sleeping peacefully and the three-year-old twins absorbed in creative play, Patti tackles the laundry and housework. In less than an hour, everything is in order. Thanks to wise scheduling and children who are trained to work, her house never really gets dirty.
Proceeding to the kitchen, Patti sets out tonight's dinner: frozen veal parmigiana that she made in quantity from her home-grown tomatoes and peppers. She then mixes and kneads 12 loaves of bread. While the bread rises, Patti dips a batch of candles to supplement her food storage. As the bread bakes, she writes in her personal journal and dashes off a few quick letters: one to her Congressman and a couple of genealogy inquiries to distant cousins. Patti then prepares her mini-class lesson on organic gardening. She also inserts two pictures and a certificate in little Paul's scrapbook, noting with satisfaction that all family albums are attractive and up-to-date. Checking the mail, Patti sees that their income tax refund has arrived - a result of having filed in January. It is earmarked for mission and college saving accounts. Although Patti's hardworking husbands earns only a modest salary, her careful budgeting has kept the family debt-free.
After lunch, Patti drops the children off at Grandma's for their weekly visit. Grandma enjoys babysitting and appreciates the warm loaf of bread. Making an extra call, Patti takes a second loaf to one of the sisters she is assigned to visit teach. A third loaf goes to the non-member neighbor on the corner.
Patti arrives at the elementary school where she directs a special education program. A clinical psychologist, Patti finds this an excellent way to stay abreast of her field while raising her family. Before picking up her little ones, Patti finishes collecting for the charity fund drive.
Dinnertime and father arrive, and it is a special hour for the whole family. They enjoy Patti's well-balanced, tasty meal, along with stimulating conversation. After dinner, father and the children pitch in to clean up so that mom can relax. She enjoys listening to the sounds of laughter and affection that come from the kitchen.
With the teen aged children in charge at home, mother and father attend an evening session at the Temple. During the return trip, they sit close together as in courting days, "Well dear, " says Paul Perfect," did you have a good day?" Pat reflectively answers, "Yes I really did. But I feel I need more challenges in my life. I think I'll contact our Family Organization and volunteer to head up a reunion for August."
Midge Worthen Nielsen
Margaret Brown Black
Note bene: Margaret and I collaborated on this when we were both young mothers in our 30's. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, and we had a blast incorporating all of our frustrations into this piece. It was first printed by "Exponent II," then reprinted in the Winter 1984, "The Best of Exponent II." The editors wrote: "To celebrate our tenth anniversary... we are going to reprint some of the best-loved articles that have appeared in the paper. To begin, we again present 'Patti Perfect, ' as one of our most-requested pieces."
Margaret had five children, Midge had six, yet we have to agree that of all our children, "Patti" has become the most famous.