The weekend rush
After a busy week at work (last week: Memphis on Tuesday, Kansas City on Friday), I want Saturday morning to look like an available hammock or, in the cooler weather we’re having, a comfortable armchair.
As much as I want to lounge, I also want the laundry pile and the fine sawdust to disappear. It feels like we could build yet another house out of the plastic bins that are filling rooms in this one. And outside we still need more gutters, grass seed and gravel. I need to grade papers and get out the sweaters and make time for dinner dates and visits with grandparents. And get two days full of my two-year-old, whose days I nearly miss five times a week.
So I do my best to get in the work and the weekend. This Saturday, my husband went to work, as he does every other weekend. I had coffee and Jack had cheerios, and then we drove to my dad’s place and walked to his house, where we played music and ate the last of the tomatoes and watermelon and dug strawberry plants.
On the way back, Jack napped and I spent $1.75 on a brownie, a cinnamon roll and a cup of homemade vanilla ice cream at a neighbor’s bakesale, where the three kids were learning to count change and raising money for a home addition that will put them their own rooms.
At 5 o’clock we drove a mile to hear some live folk music and play hide and seek with Jack and a four-year-old girl, the lively daughter of the bass and guitar players. Then we headed to town: dinner with friends for us; dinner with grandparents for Jack.
The next morning we were up by 7:15. Outside there was brush to burn, a truckload of scrap metal to compile and haul off, a dozen or more soffit vents to install; inside, a week’s worth of work clothes to iron, closet shelves and to hang and a season’s worth of clothes to pack away. But we remembered the weekend and also squeezed in pancakes, two pots of coffee and a small batch of half-sour pickles before lunch.
But after lunch I hit the wall. I looked around at the unwashed clothes and the unpacked boxes and the unpainted cabinets and felt like I was looking at an afternoon – weeks, maybe – of putting out fires.
I must have said so. (Two notes on the photo: 1) Regarding the “chemical use” jug behind Jack – I have no idea. It isn’t for putting out fires. 2) Notice that I’m on the floor at this point. It wasn’t so that I could take a headless photo of my son… .)
Eventually Jack took a nap. It should have been a window of opportunity – but the window was foggy and cluttered, and I hardly knew where to begin. I felt buried, and I felt bad – my husband was outside on a ladder, and I was inside staring blankly at my sleeping son. I wanted to sit, and I wanted to NOT want to sit. I needed the momentum that a half-checked-off list would give me. (What I actually needed was to give in, mix a drink, watch some Netflix and move on with my life. Hindsight and all that.)
So I made the list of all the things that were done and tried crossing them off with satisfaction. It helped a little.
I folded laundry, a chore I’ve never hated, and I thought about what I might say first to my class on Tuesday afternoon. It helped a little.
Jack woke up happy and danced around to Dora while I made dinner. That helped a lot.
Don came in happy, proud of having crossed so many items off of his to-do list. I felt like small potatoes, but it still helped a lot.
When the weekend was over, the strawberry plants still sat outside in a shallow cardboard box, and the kitchen was still full of plastic bins. But the laundry pile was gone, and I’d filled bag after bag with good stuff for the Salvation Army. A dent, at least.
And if not quite lemonade, at least I made pickles.
Do you keep a to-do list? What do you do when it threatens to eat you alive? How do you tackle it and still give yourself a break? What does a productive weekend look like for you?