Meaning of Motherhood: Redefining Weekends

From Hopeful Fridays to Exhausted Mondays

Since I am either a very slow learner or a stubborn optimist, every Friday I have high hopes for weekends of leisure and making great memories. It’s like a blank slate of possibility ahead of us and I look forward to what the 2-day future holds. Every week. And most of the time, it goes like this:

As I worked this past Friday, I anticipated a date night with my husband to celebrate our 10th anniversary. If we ever go out, it’s usually on a Saturday, but we could only find a babysitter for Friday; however, it made my day on Friday that much fuller of excitement to look forward to a break from our parenting routine.

As the morning stumbles us all into being awake and ready for the day, I saw all the signs: Bickering. Short fuses. Clinginess. Irrational demands. Throwing objects.

I picked up the kids in good cheer and as we turned into the driveway, one child not feeling the cheer started a meltdown. Like full-on “refuse to get out of the car even though the babysitter is coming in 20 minutes” meltdown. I was proud of myself for being more patient than usual, knowing she was crashing from the adrenaline of starting school this week. We left 15 minutes after we planned to, but at least we left. No emergency texts = success. We had two desserts after a spectacular dinner.

Ah, Saturday morning. After shaking kids awake in the morning for school the last three days, they are now up at 6:10 am. As the morning stumbles us all into being awake and ready for the day, I saw all the signs: Bickering. Short fuses. Clinginess. Irrational demands. Throwing objects. A passionate gymnast now stating she wants to quit as we are getting ready to go to class. This was going to be a long day.

And it was, especially because my husband had to work during the afternoon so I was on my own, which always sets my patience level a notch lower. Since Saturdays are when we clean rooms and straighten the house, every other sentence is a directive to pick up something. BECAUSE WE JUST CLEANED. To add spark to the crackling dynamite of my impatience, these highly capable little people suddenly have no ability to entertain themselves. “Mommy. Mommy. Mommy.” 

I try to motivate them with an outing if they will just let me do some work for an hour while they play. That turned into 45 minutes of needing something every 2 minutes, with the least productive hour in history (or at least on par with just about every time I attempt this). I get them out of the house to a friend’s church block party, where the sticky heat turns them all into dissatisfied party-goers. We persist as my 3-year-old insists on being held, the body heat magnifying the actual heat. I do sneak in some good conversation with another weekend warrior mom, also riding her child's mood roller coaster.

We move on to the next activity – another friend’s block party. A bake sale and bounce house save the day, and I’m able to shake off the unpleasantness so far, and enjoy some grown-up conversation and beverages. My husband arrives; the kids are entertained without us; fun and relaxation for all. The difficult edges of the day soften, leaving hope for Sunday.

I wake up confident on Sunday morning after a good night’s sleep. While I make breakfast and my husband gets ready upstairs, the yelling and throwing starts: “I DON’T LOVE YOU MOMMY!!!!!” as the cereal bowl flies across the kitchen. He’s 3. I don’t take it personally. But I just want to give him a drama-free bowl of cereal. Somehow we get to the other side and get us all in the car on time for our Sunday morning activity, but I’m already worn out.

Then comes the true dividing line for adults with children and without (maybe just young?) children: a Sunday afternoon without plans. I daydream about what this could be like – reading a novel, going to the gym, a spontaneous trip downtown. What it ends up being is folding laundry and deflecting complaints of boredom with ninja-like skill from lots of practice.

Gymnastics Weekend

Gymnastics Weekend

I offer to take one of the children on errands with me because she seems the most bored. She happily accepts and as we wander the aisles of Target, I appreciate this rare one-on-one time together. Shortly after this moment of gratitude, we are sitting in silence in the car because she’s not talking to me. I have some theories why, mostly related to saying no to things she wanted to buy. However, I can't help encouraging her to NOT use the silent treatment to at least try teaching communication skills.

I also know she sometimes needs her own time and space so I let it be, except for texting my husband about it. He texts back that the other two are perfectly self-sufficient, playing together while he does other stuff. I text back: “I am the receptacle of all the bad stuff.” Because it really feels like that.

I say it all the time working with families: when kids feel safe with someone, they act out the most with them. Of course our kids feel safe with both of us, but somehow they feel VERY safe with me (I hear this from other mothers -- fodder for future blog post). They open up to me about disappointments, they rush to tell me their triumphs, they trust me with it all. But it can feel so heavy and hard when I just want a weekend to feel like a weekend, and to get ready for the next week.

I know it’s also THEIR weekend, and in their own way, they are also using it to get ready for the next week. They are releasing their stress through meltdowns and fighting, allowing them a refreshed start on Monday. I may be eternally optimistic on Fridays, but I also accept the reality that motherhood means being worn out on Mondays.

For now.

I can still dream about next weekend.

How was your weekend?