Saturday, September 5, 2015

S is for Saturday, Sweetness, & Sanity

every saturday

One of the things that has been most challenging for me as a home educating parent is making sure my own needs get met. In the beginning, it was hard to figure out what was a true need and what was just my preference, but now I'm getting a better grasp on it. And for me, as an introvert and someone who scored pretty high on the highly sensitive person test, one of my true needs is time alone, without a lot of distractions. While this may sound a bit melodramatic, when I do not get time to myself for a long stretch, I start to experience the kind of deep exhaustion that makes it feel as if it's hard to draw a full breath. (See? A bit melodramatic. I know.)

It's no secret that there's a physical component to exhaustion, and as an introvert, my energy is depleted by being around people. I am around people all day, every day, and the two people I see most frequently often wake me in the night to spend more time with me, and usually it's the kind of time that has me cleaning up pee and helping someone into fresh pajamas. So it makes a lot of sense that caring for my children day and night, all week long, would make me deeply tired.

I'm not sure just when it occurred to me that most people get days off from their job, and maybe a day off from mine might benefit me, but it took awhile. For one thing, in our culture, most people do not tend to see being the at home parent and home educator as a real job. So I didn't see it as a real job either. But I have a few good friends who have told me over and over again that what I do is hard work, and is in fact a real job, and that whether or not I get paid a salary for it has nothing to do with whether it requires skill and effort. Once I truly considered their words, I understood what I needed: just a day off. I needed a block of time during which I didn't have to be bringing all my work skills to life's table.

I talked it over with J, and he agreed that it would be a good thing for me to have time to myself on a weekly basis. And it has been a good thing - a very good thing. Every Saturday is my day off. When the week is going well, I can look forward to it as a treat. When the week gets completely craptastic by Wednesday morning, I can look forward to it as a life preserver. I can pull through the rest of the worst week just by knowing that Saturday is coming, and I will get to rest.

So every Saturday, I have a series of rituals, little things I do on my own that I enjoy and don't have to think too hard about. At first I thought I should use the time to see and do some new things, but then I realized that there is the most rest in not having to make any big decisions or figure out anything new if I don't want to. And I usually don't want to. I do some things every single Saturday, and there is a short list of places I choose from once my weekly rituals are done.

The key parts of my ritual are a run, getting dressed in something that makes me feel good, and getting a doughnut. Every Saturday I am in London, I get a doughnut, without fail. I hop on the Tube and get out at a stop that has an exit which leads straight to Costa, order a small mocha, then walk to Borough Market and choose a doughnut. I sit quietly and enjoy what by that time can only be referred to as brunch, and I read a little, and I thoroughly enjoy myself. No one comes up to me and asks me for a bite of my doughnut. No one needs the toilet when I am halfway through my third bite. I am not required to discuss Viking history between bites. No one talks to me, at all, ever. It is blissful.

The rest of the day I run errands and read. Sometimes I get lost in a stationery store, and other times I walk through the park. I do what I want, when I want to do it, and that is an amazing thing to me after days of having very little time to think about what I want, let alone figure out how to get to do it. At dinner time, I meet up with J and the kids, and we have dinner together out so I don't have to cook on my day off, then go home. By the end of the day, I feel ready to get back to my work. I know that, even if the week gets hard, I will have another Saturday coming. I can do anything for the other six days of the week if I know that Saturday is coming. And it does come, every single week. Thank you, Saturday.

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