Sunday brings with it the promise of a fresh start, an opportunity for change, a new way forward. Sunday’s place on the calendar is consistent. For centuries, it has come once every six days and follows Saturday. No surprises.
Sunday, unlike the other six days of the week, is rumored to be a day of rest. I’m not sure for whom that is true, but that is beside the point. Although considered the first day of the week, it is the final day before a five day stretch of the haram-scaram, free-for-all otherwise known as our normal Monday-Friday routine.
For whatever reason (theories abound) I frequently overlook the fact that just like every other day, Sunday is made up of only 24 hours. For it is on Sunday that I try to jam as much as possible into the handful of hours allotted before Monday morning.
I like to start my week in as much control as possible: groceries bought, dinner menus planned, lunches prepped, bathrooms clean, clothes washed. Every single Sunday morning I lie in bed for a minute and think to myself, “This is it. Today is the day I will make everything happen. I will get totally and completely organized. My actions today will allow my family to have the best-week-ever. I just know it.”
It doesn’t really matter where I start on this ridiculously impossible list I create for myself, I know how it’s going to end. By 4:10 pm, I’ll be standing in the garage with wet hair in a messy-bun screaming threats at the children about getting in the car because we are late for church. Nice, right? Did I mention Sunday is The Lord’s Day? No better time to threaten your children with their very lives.
We are a small Presbyterian church and share our minister with another congregation. For that reason, ours has always been the evening service which is fine; however, the 4:30 pm start time, through no fault of its own, wreaks total havoc on the weekend rhythm. “Y’all are crazy,” Jamie says, “Baptists know better than to plan church service to coincide with Sunday night football.”
Jamie calls the unrealistic expectations I have for my Sunday schedule the Space-Time Continuum, equating it to some sort of time management twilight-zone. I’m beginning to think he’s on to something.
Recently while Jamie was out of town, my mother-in-law came for the weekend. I asked her to help me stay focused because I had lots of projects I wanted to accomplish while she was there.
She tried to keep me on task. She really, really did. After an entire weekend, I ended up with a super organized junk drawer and school-supply cabinet. That’s it. That’s all I accomplished. 72 hours and I have one drawer and one cabinet in perfect working order.
And that’s how it goes – every time. The house, in general, will need serious, focused attention: stuff scattered throughout the living room, floors in need of mopping, toilets in need of scrubbing, and I start with something inconsequential like dusting the bookshelves.
Mama says that in order to properly dust a bookshelf, one must first take all the books off the shelf. It’s best to do this one shelf at a time. Not me. I’m a go big or go home kind of person.
My process for dusting bookshelves: Take all the books off all the shelves. Dust both shelf and book. Then, organize by subject matter. Then, alphabetize the books by subject and author. Resist the temptation to read snippets of favorite books while reshelving.
Four hours later I’m putting the last book back on the very well dusted shelf and it’s time to start supper. The good news is if I need Great Expectations, I know exactly where to find it. The bad news is with the exception of the bookshelf, the house still looks like an episode of “Cops.”
When the cops go breaking down someone’s door, my interest is not in the arrest and capture but the cleanliness of the suspect’s house. I always feel bad about the shame and embarrassment sure to befall the people on the other side of the door. Not only have they allegedly committed some sort of heinous crime, but they will also have to deal with the embarrassment of knowing that an entire television viewing audience just saw their unfolded laundry piled in the living room. Jamie says it is highly unlikely the folks on the other side of the door are too concerned about laundry piles.
Jamie believes I’m obsessed with laundry. I suppose to the casual observer it looks that way- since I’m ALWAYS DOING IT. I’m great about the washing and drying. My weakness is in the folding and putting away. There’s something incredibly rewarding about digging through the clean clothes piled on the guest bed, like a hound dog unearthing a bone, to find the one clean pair of underwear I knew was in there somewhere. It’s like a treasure hunt with no map. An Easter egg hunt for grownups.
I imagine the feeling I get when I find that pair of clean underwear is not unlike the widely televised Olympic moment when the swimmer realizes she has won. She shakes both fists up in the air and then pounds her arms up and down in the water. She splashes herself in the face. Her mouth wide open in a big smile baring perfectly whitened teeth, in what I can only imagine is a deep, guttural, adrenaline rush of a yawp. That moment looks exactly how I feel as I clutch that pair of underwear in my fist and hold it over my head announcing to no one in particular, “ A-HA! I TOLD Y’ALL THERE WAS A PAIR IN HERE.”
Once I commit to folding those overflowing clean clothes laundry hampers, I love the organized stacks of neatly folded t-shirts, little boy play shorts, the folded edges of soft, white bath towels that smell faintly like bath soap. Don’t tell me there is no success in folding a fitted sheet.
The Space-Time Continuum kicks in when I start putting folded clothes away. Frustrated by the number of clothes in a drawer, I start taking out the clothes that don’t fit or aren’t often worn. That means I start stacks: clothes to keep v. clothes to donate. Then, the organization of the drawer. If I go so far as to put the bag of donated clothes in my car, I usually ride around with a garbage bag full of clothes for a while, but at least they’re out of the chest of drawers.
During the week, if I don’t have a plan for supper before I walk in the door, my precious group of New York Times food critics isn’t going to give me much time to get it all figured out. Meal prep, you say? But of course! What a simple, easy solution! Besides, all the other moms on Pinterest and Instagram are doing it. How hard can it be? To be fair, if done like a normal person would, it’s probably really easy.
My first attempt at weekly meal prep was an all-out, red alert, a no-holds-barred melee of epic proportions. My first mistake was encouraging the children to “help.” That provided them with an opportunity to see what meals I was planning. This produced copious amounts of whining about all manner of healthy ingredients. “Mom, if I’m grating this zucchini for a brownie recipe, I’m not eating them.” “How do you make mashed potatoes out of cauliflower? That doesn’t sound right.” I was informed that using quinoa in meatballs instead of breadcrumbs is, “Gross.” Also, “no one likes soup.”
Half-way into my meal prep experiment, I banished my help and ate semi-sweet chocolate chip morsels by the fist-full straight out of the bag. The kitchen was a disaster. There wasn’t a clean spoon or spatula in the house. Although I did have a number of meals prepped for the coming week, I asked myself if it was really worth it.
Now the boys question me like FBI agents every time I put food on the table, “Are these mashed potatoes really potatoes? Do these brownies contain vegetables of any kind? Is this Aunt Jemima or agave nectar? Why can’t we just use Bisquick for pancakes, like everybody else?” It’s enough to make me wonder if hot dogs are really all that bad.
Ever the optimist, I always believe that this Sunday is the Sunday everything will fall into place. Even as I type this, I know that on Sunday morning I will go grocery shopping, throw together a meal or two for the upcoming week, play the piano at church, scrub at least one bathroom, get the children’s clothes washed, folded and ready for the week ahead, and try my very best not to fall asleep during the sermon due to complete exhaustion when I’m finally able to get still and quiet at 4:30 pm.
It is a day of rest, after all.