I work full time outside the home. And I have two kids. It’s hard. But for now, for right here in this season, I am certain it’s what God has asked me to do in order to provide for our family. Nevertheless, on Sunday nights I tend to suffer from what I call, “the Sunday night blues.”
The more delicious the weekend has been the worse the blues. On a scale of one to Cold Stone Creamery ice-cream, this weekend was a chocolate chip cookie dough sundae topped with strawberries and hot fudge caramel. Yea, that good. First, there was the consignment sale to end all consignment sales. People, consignment sales are like crack to me. I can get high just thinking about them. Pete and I plan the boys’ wardrobes around these bi-annual beauties and when you combine the savings with the thrill of the hunt it describes to a T my idea of pure bliss. So, on Saturday I shopped like a madwoman amidst a sea of other mothers and loved every minute of the communal hunter-gatherer vibe that electrified the place.
Better yet, I got every one of the items that Jackson has been whining politely asking for over the last few months for a fraction of the price they would have been new. The bomber jacket he saw at the Naval Academy? Check. The Timberland boots? Check. The adorable, sure to melt his father’s heart T-shirt? Check! (Ok, that last one might have just been for me).
After I got home and we all did the happy dance amidst a sea of clothes and enjoyed our own version of Project Runway, we hit a petting zoo, kid’s train, horse riding event at a local church. The weather was balmy with a slight breeze, not a cloud in the sky. The perfect day. Micah marched right up to the horses for his first ride ever; we petted the heck out of poor bunnies, tortoises and geese; we played with pickup trucks, mulch, and purple hippos; we rode cars to Africa and back. It was a very good, wonderful, lovely, just great day!
But all great weekends eventually come to an end and I find myself on a Sunday night surrounded by a house filled with a degree of chaos directly proportional to the amount of fun we had over the weekend. And sitting between last night’s dinner leftovers and this morning’s dried-to-the-bowl breakfast remains I realized that it may be comforting to other moms out there who also struggle with the Sunday night blues to get a glimpse into how they play out for us.
We revel in the weekend, no doubt about it. And we brace ourselves for Monday. And in order to make it through another week separated by work and daycare and preschool and miles of driving on a highway that hates me, we try very hard not to compromise our family time. Sometimes, come mornings like today, when we can tell our boys haven’t quite topped up their little fuel tanks of family togetherness we skip church and stay in a close knit lump on our bed playing hide-and-seek under the covers, watching Barney and eating breakfast in a frenzy of crumbs and pillows.
We rest. In the truest sense of the word. We take time off from the expectations of others and downsize our day to the four of us.
Strangely, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. We, mothers tend to live under a great weight of expectations. Those of friends, husbands, kids, co-workers, parents, other mothers, and the check-out clerk who expects we will restrain our children from squeezing each piece of candy that lines the aisle. But the truly crushing weight of expectation is the one we place on ourselves.
We expect ourselves to be on top of our game even when the game goes into years worth of overtime and the ref expects us to keep playing through the night. We expect ourselves to be all things to all people: we expect to at least be reminiscent of the woman our husbands first fell for. We expect to love our kids in ways we remember swearing we would do different when we were their age. We expect to make memories worth remembering. We expect to pack as much education, inspiration and fun as possible into our time with them.
We expect that we will vacuum more than once a month and use Lysol on the bathroom. We expect our kids will be well turned out and learn by our example about Jesus. We expect to clean out our car after road trips and plan out the week’s meals in advance. Ugh, that’s not true, I don’t even have the expectation of a well thought out menu, but I hear that other people are that organized.
We expect to be at work on time and manage to pick up our kids on time. We expect that we will be 100% focused at work but still manage not to be any less than 100% mother. We expect to be able to balance the needs of work and family. We expect that we will still have time for friends. We expect that in the midst of it all we won’t lose sight of God and we expect to cram more than a commuter’s worth of time with him into our day.
As I sit here at the end of another dinner, bath, clean up, pack-em-up, bedtime routine – tired and very grubby – I confess I have never lived up to these expectations, at least not simultaneously. Sheer exhaustion has forced me to re-prioritize. “The kitchen can wait,” was my mantra this weekend. That’s how we squeezed in so much quality time. Tapped out from a week of long commutes and missed mornings with my kids, I just couldn’t summon the energy to care about the mounting pile of dishes or laundry and here’s the proof. If it makes just one of you feel better it was totally worth the embarrassment of sharing:
I like a clean house, but if I have to choose, well then the house can wait. And as you know, despite the fact that it makes me crazy, I very rarely have the time or inclination to deal with cleaning out the contents of my car. At the end of the day, the only expectation I have to live up to is that of the Father who made me and loves me more patiently and more tenderly than I often stop to think about. His is the only measuring stick that matters.
Some days I get that and some days I forget.
What I appreciate the most about Him is that He doesn’t keep score either way. He loves me just the way I am, dirty laundry and all. And when I remember that, I’ve got a fighting chance of beating these Sunday night blues.