One of the strangest things about our living situation for the past ten months is that I often feel like I lead a double life. The Lawyer is home on weekends but drives away every Sunday evening and we've fallen into a new, albeit a slightly off-kilter routine.
Weekdays, I am a single mom working from dawn to dark, trying to keep everything running. My days start before 6 a.m. so that I can exercise (p90x in the office) and have some quiet moments with the Lord. The kids are usually all awake before 6:30 and we're off to the races- refereeing sibling conflicts, helping the little ones dress, and feeding hungry bellies. . . and begging (often audibly!) for just a little more quiet.
Our days are full- mornings are memory work and schooling. A quick break for lunch, poetry, and books. Then, blessed rest time for everyone (except me). When the mandatory "supposed to be quiet" hour has expired, boys finish school and then we move to outside jobs and play and I take the phone for wellness consulting and team building. Too late I realize it's dinner time and the baby (M-1) is fussy and everyone is tired of having "M time." There are 30 very crazy minutes until dinner is on the table. . . then a very few noisy minutes of eating and I'm upstairs to take M potty and get him ready for bed (also praying that the children downstairs are actually working on the clean up chores).
Tonight I bathed the three youngest then we spent a good while dancing to Beethovan's Wig 4. With M in bed, we move into night reading (one of my most favorite parts of the day!). Even though bedtime is supposed to be 8 I often read much later, just for the joy of being with the kids and sharing a great story. It's the longest stretch in the day when I feel most present and I like that. Though I'd also like to linger over beds while tucking in the kids, I'm always anxious to get back to the downstairs chores so that I can have a few quiet moments again. I don't really clean up the whole house; I'm just too tired. I do, however, diligently check all the doors and windows, making sure everything is locked up and ready for the night. (I have forgotten this several nights and recognize the Lord's generous protection!)
I go to bed with the day just a blur in my mind, so many things undone. . . and yet such sweetness, too. I've spent all day talking, instructing, correcting, praising (not enough!). Bedtime is late (even though I have all these self-imposed rules to stop eating at a certain time, turn off the computer at a certain time...). After I slide into bed I list my gratitudes; I am so grateful for this full life. . . the full day I lived but can barely remember.
Then, The Lawyer comes home- oh, joy! Everyone is excited; it is the highlight of every week. We wait dinner on his arrival (except M) and when he walks in, everything seems to change.
The kids talk without breathing and I find myself silent. He gives the boys a break after dinner and handles most of the clean up single-handedly. While he tucks everyone in, I generally lace up my shoes and quietly slip out into the dusk for a few minutes. He does a lot of dishes at night and I breathe thanks for the moments I can nurse M without hearing the tussles downstairs. I don't check any locks or turn anything off before I go upstairs to bed. He and I stay up too late, trying to fit all of a week's conversations into a few nights. We linger in bed each morning; he is so thankful to be in his own bed and I'm relieved to have him beside me.
I cook more when The Lawyer is here (because he loves it and because I don't always have M pulling on my legs). I do loads and loads of laundry so he will be ready to leave in a few days. With Daddy home, it feels like vacation time. The house is messier than I would like because everyone is off playing, jumping, riding, etc.- yet how can I ask them to come in and work? Daddy home is a celebration! Everyone clamors for his attention so that we have to institute rules about who sits by him at which meal. We have a "sweet treat" night and popcorn before bed and pancakes for breakfast. I can't seem to manage more than a walk for exercise and my quiet time is during the shower I linger in (who had time to shower during the week?!).
When The Lawyer is home things fall into a different rhythm and take on his personality. There is more laughter (and more alcohol, but I'm sure that's not corrolated!). It's just as exhausting in different ways. I find myself observing our family as everyone spirals around him (he likens them to tornados). The boys punch on him and grin crookedly and giggle. Everyone talks and there are endless word plays and corny jokes. It's a wonderfully full life.
And then Sunday comes and by the afternoon we all feel the heaviness of his leaving. As he drives away, I resume my weekday mantle. I feel the weight of responsibility for the little ship I captain on the swells. This taking on and defering authority has been awkward at times, and rightly so. There isn't a true rhythm to this season. The weekends are so different from the weekdays that I sometime think I lead a double life- both messy and full and kind of crazy good, but not seamless.