“What are you up to for the weekend?”
This innocent question that I’ve asked and been asked every Friday, since well since I was old enough to have any control over my life at all, got me thinking.
Time was, when someone asked I had plans for the weekend sometimes I said “No”. I didn’t mean no though, not really.
What “no” meant then was a lie-in, some impromptu pints, maybe a walk in the mountains or by the sea.
And way back then when I said yes it would involve a weekend drinking session, possibly local, possibly in another town a few hours’ drive away where friends lived. Sometimes it was a city break, in those good old days when we all partied.
Other times I was “going down home” to visit my parents, walk on the beach and reconnect or up to my husband’s family Sligo to walk different beaches and breathe in Atlantic air.
“What are you up to for the weekend?”
These days I have my weekend planned out, I never say “nothing”.
There are matches and blitzes, two children playing different age groups means bilocating to reach them all. Parties and playdates, drop offs and pickups.
A couple of weekends ago we had a rare exception.
My mother suggested taking the kids down to hers for a few nights over the weekend. I’d meet her halfway on Friday evening after work and hand them over, my parents and unsuspecting brothers would entertain them all weekend. Yes, all weekend. She’d drop them back Monday evening. Amazing.
Yet my immediate feeling was guilt.
Goddamned, stupid guilt. Guilt that the hours that I had free, that I wasn’t working, I wouldn’t be spending with them. My friends told me not to be ridiculous. But it seemed like in the busy-ness of our weekends I’d forgotten that they could be a break for ME too. I could have time that didn’t belong to my kids, or their social lives. I could spend time with my husband without interruption.
And I got the question “What are you up to for the weekend”
My reply was “well the kids are going to my parents’ and I have no plans at all”.
People were surprised. No plans?
That, for me was the luxury. No plans. Nowhere to be. No time that everyone had to be fed. Nobody to pick up or drop off, nobody to put to bed.
The break from routine that meant I didn’t need a schedule.
Friday night we got a takeaway on the way from dropping the kids, drank a beer and talked rubbish.
Saturday I booked a facial with a voucher I’d been gifted months earlier, then went out with my husband for a late lunch.
Here’s the best bit: we went home at 5pm and sat.
We sat on the couch during the time that would usually be dinner time and bath time and putting the kids to bed time. We talked and read books and talked some more. We phoned them to say goodnight but they were having to much fun to pass any heed.
And then, around 8.15pm we realised we were hungry and we spontaneously phoned a local restaurant and booked a table. We had no worries about getting home for the babysitter, or of needing to be up early for rugby training so we went with the flow.
Sunday brought a lie in and a very wet and windy day. If the kids were home we’d be housebound so we decided to go for a walk. A long walk up a big hill, we’d usually go there to see the views but they were hidden by the rain. We got soaked and had great fun. After another late lunch (eat lots, there’s no dinner) we sat on the couch until well past child-bedtime and lunchbox time.
The house was so quiet. It was eerie walking past their bedrooms at night, with nobody to check on, no sleeping children to admire. We missed them.
The morning brought calm, nobody to wake or dress, nobody to help find their shoes. It was surreal.
On Monday evening they came home, full of stories and treats, hugs and kisses. It took me a while to adjust to the increase in volume.
It took the weekend off, to realise that what I miss isn’t so much the doing things, as the genuinely not doing things.
The not having plans, no schedule.
That weekend off reset the clocks, and recalibrated the balance. It made it easier to get up early for matches the following weekend and make the lunches again.
It’s amazing how long you can dine out on a memory, or dine in, with takeway on the couch, at bedtime.