It’s 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday and I just told my three kids to go play outside while I ‘make dinner.’ My oldest daughter rolled her eyes at my for the umpteenth time today. She knows ‘make dinner’ really means I will be devouring any leftover candy from the most recent holiday while mindlessly scrolling Facebook for thirty minutes and waiting for a frozen pizza to finish cooking in the oven. To tell the truth, when I tell my kids to go play outside on the weekends it is because I feel like I am going to lose it if either me or them doesn’t leave the house soon and give us some space from each other. I figure it might as well be them so that at least the neighbors think I am a good parent whose kids get plenty of fresh air and free time.
Saturday used to be my favorite day of the week. My husband and I would sleep in, walk to a local pub near our house and have a huge breakfast with delicious tomato beer, and then spend the rest of the day doing absolutely nothing in particular. We sat on patios and ate appetizers with friends. We watched marathons of our favorite TV show. I read books. If we felt like it we went for a bike ride or a hike, but no pressure. We used to relax on Saturdays and enjoy the one day of the week that was for ourselves.
They don’t tell you that having kids totally changes your Saturday. It isn’t a day for you to recharge anymore. Also, toddlers do not enjoy long breakfasts or chats on restaurant patios. When you have a family, Saturdays are the day you are supposed to go places and do fun things together. You know, make commercial and social media worthy memories. And if you aren’t running to one of your kids’ games or practices or events, then you should be doing grand projects around your house like painting that shed or cleaning out those closets. We are led to believe that good parents want to spend extra quality time with their kids on Saturdays and enjoy it to the fullest, except didn’t we just spend every spare minute we had loving our kids Monday through Friday?
During the week for five uninterrupted days in a row there is school (in our case home school) and sports and classes and activities and work all day long. Then in the evenings there are walks together and books and talks at bedtime about everything and laundry piles being sorted after 9:00 p.m. so someone can have their uniform ready for tomorrow. We pour everything we have into our families all week long. It’s only normal that we feel a bit too exhausted on the weekends to want to haul everyone to the newest water park, or play yet another game of UNO. And when we feel too tired or like we need a minute to recharge ourselves or that so much time with our kids is driving us crazy the next emotion that immediately follows is guilt. We think we are bad moms, we focus on our failures, and we feel guilty about them.
But you know what I realized today? Today while I was stealing my kids’ candy and watching them play outside through the kitchen window and hoping, no PRAYING, they stayed outside at least until dinnertime all the while feeling so GUILTY that I didn’t want to be out there jumping on the trampoline with them? I realized that I am not a bad mom and that I need to shut the guilt down, along with the expectations pushed on us for a perfect family Saturday. Good moms love their kids but get annoyed by their kids, too. Good moms kick their kids outside so they can steal the candy and have a minute of peace. Good moms turn on Netflix on Saturday afternoons; even if it is so nice outside that everyone should be out getting plenty of fresh air and free time. Good moms are tired on Saturdays and daydream about sitting at home reading a good book while they pretend to be excited about a six year-old’s soccer game. Heck, good moms even take naps sometimes.
I don’t expect my daughters to grow up to be robots with endless energy and joy every single day, so why do I expect that of myself? Good moms are humans, which means sometimes we feel tired and sad and bored and lonely. It’s ok for our kids to see those things too because they as real as any wonderful Saturday spent trying to act like you don’t absolutely hate everything about Chuck-E-Cheese. Good moms are far from perfect, and I think the same can be said about a good Saturday.