But the weekends are different. For starters, there are a lot of negotiations. Who’s going to watch the kids, or how are we going to divvy them up? Can you compose a grocery list while two boys are screaming schwaa-AHHHHH and hitting you with light sabers? Which is the harder chore, grocery shopping with two kids or vacuuming with a vacuum cleaner that smells like a burning diaper? Laundry: Most things can be tumble-dried, but a few blouses need to be hung up and patted back into shape by the ethereal hands of adolescent fairies. I should iron, but come on. Library. Hardware store for the thing so we can fix the thing. I call various family members and inquire about their health. I plan and shop for birthday parties. I send a check for a summer vacation and a deposit for camp. I return a wetsuit with a broken zipper, clean the kitchen, retrieve a package from the post office, and cook a meal or two.
By bath time Sunday night, I’ve seen road kill that’s perkier than I am. Maybe it’s because my toddler is so large that bathing him is like lifting and soaping a frisky Labrador. Maybe it’s because I’m on my knees on the tile and I catch a glimpse of the bathroom corners—ew—and I start to consider all that didn’t happen that weekend, like, uh, cleaning the floors. Or replacing the vile-smelling vacuum. And even though things are mostly good for us (I remind myself: We’re healthy! We have jobs!), a wave of fatigue and grumpiness washes over me. This is what my life is now? Work hard all week, race through an obstacle course of library fines, spackle, and toddler toenails, rinse, repeat?
Plus, naturally, there’s the added layer of guilt that the workday is often just easier than the weekends. My coworkers have their foibles, but no one takes a dump on my lap. I don’t have to lift the copy editor out of the tub while she hits me in the face with a bath dinosaur. No, things are generally calm and predictable on that front.
Is there a solution? I don’t know. I just wish that that final evening routine after the Sunday baseball game or grocery shop felt more like a triumph, or even a moment in which we could finally relax and revel in being prepped for the workweek. But we’re never prepped and rested enough: It feels like some power-mad general/emperor is saying, “On your feet, soldier! Belgium by dawn,” and you heave your exhausted carcass up, take a swig of brackish water from your canteen and think, “Does everyone have dry boots and a Larabar?”
Okay, maybe there is a solution. I call it the Early-Bird-Special Date Night: Instead of a Friday or Saturday night date, in which the sitter comes from, say, 7:30 to 11:30, we’re having the sitter come from 5 to 9 on Sunday night. We leave the house at 5, and she does the dinner/bath/book/bed/clean the kitchen. We go out for an early, cheap dinner and hear a bar band for an hour or two. We let our friends know where we are, and anyone who wants to join can. Early-Bird-Special Date Night launched last weekend, and it felt like a miracle—we looked forward to it all weekend and then at 4:30 on Sunday we showered and kissed the kids goodbye. We still sacked out at a reasonable hour (which, frankly, is why we’ve never really “done” date nights—who can stay up till midnight when kids wake at 4:41 a.m.?). We came home happy and relaxed and ready for Monday morning.
We didn’t do it this weekend, and I was sad and grumpy. So, fellow parents, maybe this is the solution to the Sunday night Waterloo. If you eat by 5:30, it’s two for the price of one.