You remember how Laura got in trouble for blurting out "I hate Sundays!" right? If I remember right, that was the time that Pa whipped her for it. Or maybe I am thinking of the time she slapped Mary?
Anyway, I sometimes think about that Little House episode, because every time Sunday afternoon rolls around, I want to blurt out "I hate Sundays!" too.
I have trouble articulating the reason; it is more like a jumble of associations. Some of it is undoubtedly that feeling of the weekend being almost over, and wanting to push it back just a little bit farther. Why can't it be a three-day weekend? It is not that I don't want to work on Monday, but that I don't want to return while it is still Sunday to the getting-ready-for-tomorrow part. I wish I could just rest all afternoon, go to bed on Sunday night, and begin the work in the morning, when I am fresh.
I think it's hard for me to be part of a family on Sundays. I don't get my way. I am not supposed to get up and be productive; nobody is; so the house gets messier and messier all day long, the dishes pile up in the sink, and at the end of the day after dinner (when we have decreed the restful part of Sunday is over) there is so much that we can't clean it up before bed. I can't lounge around and relax in the presence of such chaos. I get tense and irritable. I want to clean everything up and then relax in a clean house. I imagine myself sitting peacefully on the couch with a book, the living room uncluttered and serene, like a magazine spread. My imagination even helpfully inserts a verdant houseplant in the foreground, tastefully blurred. I don't have any houseplants.
(After I finished cleaning and making the lovely space in which to relax, I wouldn't, because I would just keep cleaning, and then I would do school planning because how can I relax knowing that the work still remains to be done?)
If I had my way I wouldn't be like we are, wouldn't sleep in on Sunday and go to the eleven o'clock Mass. I would get up at six or seven and go to an eight or nine o'clock Mass, and then have so much more day stretched out before me, and some morning left before lunch. It's all these non-morning people I live with, my husband who gets up and goes to work early five days a week, takes a child to the ten a.m. swim lesson on Saturdays, and then, inexplicably, wants to sleep as long as possible on Sunday mornings. Not only that but he actually does it! Stays asleep! The sun comes in and he rolls over and continues, undisturbed. How does that work, I murmur to myself as I clomp down the stairs in my shoes, fully dressed, to make my own coffee (my OWN coffee!) which he makes for me six days out of seven? How can he stay blissfully snoozing? Why can I only do that when I have the flu?
Practically speaking, I flee from Sunday afternoons. Everything around me on the first floor is nothing but a box to check on a to-do list that never ends. The kitchen's dishes piling high as people don't clean but mysteriously continue to eat. The living room floor becoming more and more obscured by toys and snow boots. The computer, accusing me from the corner, concealing fossilized patterns of tiny electric charges that I was supposed to reply to yesterday. The schoolroom.
I go upstairs and burrow under the blankets and try to nap. I can't see it from my bedroom. That works pretty well if I have a white-noise app, or else I give up on sleep and maybe I can read a good book.
Today the ennui got to me after a while and I pulled on my boots, threw the iPad into my bag, and announced that I was leaving the house. Nobody seemed to want me for anything: the kids are playing Minecraft and climbing on the wall in the basement; the baby is napping; it is Phase II. Dinner was still a couple of hours away. I jammed a hat on my head and walked out into an impossibly gray and dreary afternoon, half a mile to a cheerful neighborhood coffee shop.
Here I sit. I have bought a four-ounce cup of premium ice cream but it turned out I only wanted half of it, so it is melting at my elbow. The coffee is good (maybe a bit too high-acid) but I had better not drink any more lest I be kept up tonight.
The act of walking in the cold, slightly underdressed for it, helped a little bit. I should have gone for a run, maybe. Maybe I am just seeking stimulation. Well, I have a stimulant, anyway.
I am a terror, I think, forever insisting that the people around me help me fix my environment so that my nerves stop jangling. Stop making that noise before I lose my mind. Clean up the living room so I don't trip on this stuff. Clear your desk top so I don't have to look at a pile of books and papers. Handwash the dishes so there's no pile in the sink.
If I allowed the kids to get away with it, let the dishes sit where I can see, let them chew gum where I could hear it, even only some of the time, I would die a thousand deaths, a thousand tiny, imperceptible deaths, every day.
Sunday is the day when I don't get my way, because my way is not to take a day of rest, nor to let anybody else have one either.
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I have heard people say that every Friday is a little Lent and every Sunday a little Easter. Or to turn it around, while Easter is all Sunday feasting, Lent is all Friday, all sorrowful mysteries, every day a penance.
As for me, backward anti-social Christian that I am, I think that a real penance for me would be a Lent full of Sundays, surveying the feasts and the revelry and the easygoing laughter and thinking This is all very well while it lasts, but when it's over somebody is going to have to clean this mess up.
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I don't have any profound ending for the post here. I need to close it and put on my coat and go home, because it is getting dark and my family will want to eat dinner, and after dinner we will all stop resting and get to work, getting ready for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. That's when the kids will grumble but I will cheer up, because for some reason I like the doing of things. I like when there is nothing to do, too; the hard part for me is when there is something to do but it isn't time yet.
This year I must learn to suffer this a little more than I do, instead of laying the burden of my constantly-jangled nerves on the people around me. I am not sure what kind of Lent that could mean, but letting Sunday be Sunday, and finding times of rest and retreat (when I want to attack) the rest of the week, might be part of it for me this year.