Do As I Say, Not As I Do by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche. 2023

It was probably the best Mother’s Day I’ve ever had, certainly since my children have been living on their own.  Granted, it’s hard to beat the coupon books they created for me when they first were learning to write.  Scribbles of “I won’t argue with my brothers all day long” or “I will make you breakfast in bed someday” or “I will wash your car if you help me” were hand-crafted delights held together by a bow of knitting yarn, and each had a special message that inspired me to be a better mom.

When Jeff and Andy, two of my (then, grown) sons, lived in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, I spoke at their church’s Mother’s Day service.  The message?  Do as I say and not as I did.  Before the second service, Jeff and Andy greeted me with a dozen roses.  During my talk I introduced them to the members of the congregation who delighted in watching the boys’ expressions as I spoke of their childhood shenanigans.

I  addressed the ten greatest lessons I learned as a mother.  Number five was this: it’s a waste of time to worry. When I asked the women in the audience to raise their hands if they worry, all but a handful did so.  The others lied. I explained that worry is not trusting God is in charge, and it’s difficult to grow in a relationship with Him as long as we live in a world of “what ifs.”

Jesus makes that clear: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens. They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:22-26)   My listeners nodded.  They pretended to get it.

The rest of that Sunday was perfect. My step-daughters called me, and the boys treated me to a wonderful brunch and a facial at a local spa.  I went to bed, thanking God for the many blessings from that day.  No concerns.  No fretting. Life was good.

Then Monday rolled around. Jeff, Andy and I were discussing their upcoming schedules.  Jeff let it slip that their fall plans included motorcycling across Southeast Asia.

Surely they meant southeast Kansas. In a car. Like an Abrams Battle Tank.

“You’re not serious,” I began. From across the table, Andy shot Jeff the “You’ve blown it now” look.  I pressed on. “Are you aware that tigers, cobras, crocodiles and cannibals live there?  Have you ever ridden a motorcycle before?  How fast can a motorcycle escape a tsunami?  Who else is going?  Have you lost your minds?”  You know, small details like that.

The boys assured me that it was not a big deal and they would be safe and I needed to follow the advice I had given the moms the day before.  A diversion tactic. I recognized it immediately.

“Easy for you to say,” I lectured. “And while you’re at it, why don’t you go sky-diving without a parachute or snorkel with great white sharks or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in flip-flops?  You could always solo across the Pacific in an inner tube or wrestle starving alligators in the Louisiana Bayou or put an apple on your head and be target practice for a serial killer.”

The best I could figure, I had four months of sleepless nights ahead of me.  But then Andy quoted my talk.  “Mom, it’s a sin to worry.”  As much as it went against my nature, I revisited Luke’s passage.  By worrying about this insane, suicide mission my sons were planning, I could accomplish no good.  God was in control, and if He could provide for the birds, surely He could take care of Jeff and Andy.  Of course, birds don’t go looking for trouble by doing stupid things like riding motorcycles half-way around the universe.

It was much easier to stick to the other advice I had given the mothers: Do as I say. Not as I do.


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