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Monday, May 21, 2012

Where Have All The Weekends Gone?

Even back when I was working at a law firm, I looked forward to the weekends.  I say "even" because on most of those weekends, I was going to be doing at least a few hours of work.  And often, that work would have to be done in the office.

Sometimes, a Saturday or Sunday really wasn't all that different from a Tuesday or Wednesday in terms of the hours I was billing. 

Despite that depressing statistic, there was still something qualitatively different about a weekend.  Even being in the office felt different.  The halls were quieter, the phone didn't ring, the volume on Pandora was turned up louder, and my attire was non-business.  That's right.  On Saturdays, I wore pajamas or a tu-tued leotard to the office.  So that was awesome.

Then when I left the office, I could go meet my husband for dinner or a movie or the circus I'd been practicing for.  I could return to our small apartment that took 5 minutes and one swiffer cloth to clean.  I could do a single load of laundry, pick up pressed shirts at the dry-cleaners, and spend 20 minutes grocery shopping at the glorified convenience store half a block from our building.

We could sleep in a bit on weekend mornings, have a muffin and a coffee in Central Park, and go for a run whenever the mood struck.

As much of a bear New York City was to live in, there were those little things that, in retrospect, I can now appreciate.  Because now?   Oh...Now, you slippery little devil.  Now, you've taught me about the innocence of my lost youth.  Those halcyon days when the only person I had to plan for was myself.  That Gilded Age when waking up at 6AM was something to be bragged about or reported to a medical professional.

The weekends of today, with two children in the mix, are a much different story.  All the mothers reading this post are nodding their heads and wiping the Cheerios off their yoga pants (which have never been used for actual yoga).  Can I get an Amen, sister?

For those of you who don't automatically understand the Before-and-After I'm putting in front of you, allow me to dazzle you with a simile.  (I'm pretty sure it's a simile because I'm going to use the word "like" in the next sentence, which I think disqualifies it as a metaphor.  If you're trying to stifle a correction in your throat or at your fingertips, chill.  It doesn't really matter.)  A weekend of today is like being shot out of a sling-shot.  When the first child cries out, in the wee hours of a soft Saturday morning, you're the rubber ball being launched into the next 14 hours of your day, landing only when the last child's head hits the pillow.

I can honestly say that I'm more exhausted when I arrive at work on a Monday morning than I was when I left it Friday afternoon.  The preceding 60 or so hours are nothing but a blur of meals and chores and inane conversations and bottles and activities and the dreaded grocery shopping extravaganza.  I wish I was talented enough to write a symphony displaying the cacophony of sounds that makes up any given weekend.  I'm not even close, but I know it would include the sound plates make when they're being unloaded from the dishwasher, the clack of a washing machine door, the whining of one child, the fussing of another, the car door opening and closing, the refrigerator door opening and closing, shoes falling off feet, sand spilling, the creak of a swing, the wave of a rattle, a crayon on paper, the whir of a blender, the ping of an oven, the water spray of a shower, and the unfolding of a diaper. 

Oh, and "Mami?  Mami?  Mami?" being repeated ad infinitum in the background.  My daughter begins everything that comes out of her mouth with a "Mami?" or a Mami!" or a "Mami."  By the end of the day, I literally tell her she is no longer allowed to say That Word.

The fact that she has a running play-by-play of the day makes any sort of self-censorship quite a challenge.  I get reports on where the ants are, how many times she's dribbled a ball, when she needs to go to the bathroom, who was funny at school two weeks ago, and why she needs a snack RIGHT NOW.  I am immediately apprised of when a crow lands on the lawn, what toy her brother is playing with, how many bites she's eaten of an apple, who was funny at school yesterday, and where she plans on having a play-date tomorrow.  Yesterday she had so many things to tell me at once that this sentence came out of her mouth:

"Yesterday Hadley wouldn't swing with me and tomorrow I am going to swimming lessons can Molly come play I don't want strawberries because Mateo is rolling over."

There's no good response to that kind of update.  Our conversations are entirely one-sided, with her doing all the talking and me doing all the wondering when I stopped understanding either the English or Spanish language. 

It's these kind of mental gymnastics and the physical feats of keeping up with every move and request and near-catastrophe two small people can make and voice and cause that have me gasping for air by the time Sunday night rolls around.

And this past weekend I did the unspeakable.  I went out both Friday and Saturday night after the kids were ready for bed.  I stayed up until 11PM both nights like some kind of God damned teenager. 

Don't get me wrong.  I know this is what I signed up for, and this is the life of mothers everywhere.  I also know that I love my children dearly, and I wouldn't go back in time for all the ego in Kobe.

But sometime, maybe just for 5 minutes on a Saturday, I would like to sit down with an empty brain in a quiet room and close my eyes.

I think the surrounding I just described is a psych ward. 

Does anyone know if they have hourly rates?

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