Blame it on busy…

dear betty jo

For the past month, I have been reminding myself that my mother-in-love’s birthday is coming soon. I had October 5 in my head. The thought of Betty Jo would pass through my brain, along with the word “birthday,” and I would briefly contemplate what I wanted to do to make it special. And how much time I had to get or make the gift and still get it to her on time.

Despite my loving thoughts, I failed. Somehow any time I wrapped my mind around thoughts of Betty Jo + birthday, I managed to have my hands wrapped around work or other things I deemed absolutely necessary. But Sunday morning, October 5, I mentioned to my husband that it was my mother-in-love’s birthday and that I was going to call. At least I could wish her a happy birthday and have a lovely conversation.

Later that afternoon, still encompassed with laundry and cleaning and grocery shopping to make sure I was ready for Monday morning’s shotgun start to the work week, I still hadn’t called.

“Have you called Betty Jo yet?” my husband asked, when he got home from work. (Betty Jo is Steve’s first mother-in-law; it’s a bit complicated. His first wife died too young; like Steve, I too had been widowed when he and I met. Betty Jo — always Betty Jo by name to me — and her crazy, beloved husband Tom began calling me their “daughter-in-love” and thus was born a relationship of love. I count myself truly blessed.

I stopped what I was doing and made the call. When I heard Betty Jo’s voice, I suddenly felt a bit hesitant.


“Hello, Betty Jo, this is Sara” I said, “Errr… happy birthday?!”

“Well, you’re a bit early, but thank you!”

Ever gracious, my mother-in-love.

Why do I have October 5 in my brain as her birthday? Did I miss someone else’s birthday? Is there an app for this? Would I pay more attention to it than I have any other tool at my disposal?

When she told me her birthday was Monday, October 13, I felt embarrassed but relieved — and said:

“Great! Now I have another week to get a card in the mail” and then went into my explanations about how I’d been thinking of her birthday for weeks and still managed to not do anything about it.

What is wrong with me?

I love this woman. She has blessed the lives of me, my husband, and my children beyond measure through the 20 years I have known her and their lives before that. She certainly deserves more than a passing thought or a failed intention with a follow-up phone call.

Despite the week’s reprieve and the embarrassment of the early birthday greetings, the thoughts of making her jewelry or finding the perfect gift or at least sending a card, I failed once again.

I blame it on busy. Despite not teaching, I live a shoe-horn life — where I have to fit everything perfectly into little time slots and still use a shoehorn to get all the tasks completed. Is this just how Americans live? Or is it a character flaw? Is it a lack of time management or a misplaced value system? I am not sure, but I don’t like it.

Does anyone else have this issue? Or a way to fix it?

Betty Jo, happy on-time birthday! Next year, I will attempt to turn my thoughts into action. You definitely deserve more! I love you!



Later this morning, as I was enjoying some coffee and Scripture, I found that my One Year Bible’s Proverbs reading for the day included this: “A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain” (Proverbs 25:14). Message received.

2 thoughts on “Blame it on busy…

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about your post this week. I think it’s an American thing. We are always running around, trying to make every minute productive and feeling guilty whenever we waste time. I was at school the other day and ran into one of the teachers and immediately started going over business and talking about the class I had just taught. He made a joke, “Hold on…Hello, how are you?” I felt a little embarrassed and said, “Sorry, that’s the American in me.”


    1. Thanks, Laura. I completely relate and agree. I work with a woman I rarely see but often communicate with via email. She is the queen of the database, and any issue or question I have I direct to her. Like you, getting down to business. She usually responds with a “hi, how are you?” When I respond to that, she will then attend to my question. And also like you, I feel embarrassed that my culture — me — is more inclined toward getting work done than focusing on who I need to get it done. I definitely need to make the mental adjustment. Thanks for reminding me this isn’t just birthday celebrations I need to remember. 🙂


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