Reclaiming the Morning

I could not wipe away all of the fatigue in a single afternoon.

abstract watercolor illustration a bag with glasses, a cup of coffee and sunglasses
Image created via Midjourney

My husband and I have a long-standing arrangement on weekends. On Saturday morning, he sleeps in and I wrangle all of the kids. Up with Autumn around 6:00, breakfast for the older kids when they wander into the kitchen around 6:45... usually pancakes or waffles. By 8:00, I have left the house with Autumn in tow to go run errands for the week. The big kids have their morning screen time and Ger keeps sleeping. All of this lasts until about 9:30 when I return home from shopping, screen time is over, everyone is awake and the weekend day commences.

On Sunday, the responsibilities switch, except that I rarely sleep in. I will sneak downstairs for a cup of coffee and then savor the rest of the time to myself. Sometimes I read, often I write. Occasionally I might tackle a small household project, but I try to enjoy the quiet.

This weekend has been bitterly cold. We have been fighting various illnesses in our house for weeks and both Ger and I are running on empty. On top of that, he has been working on a work project for months and captures a lot of evening and weekend time when he can, inching it ever closer to "done." I offered to give him some time yesterday (Saturday). The big kids listened to an audiobook and worked on puzzles. Autumn played her new favorite game of pulling things out of kitchen cabinets. I made dinner, and while typically this is a straightforward event, somehow I was not paying attention and overlooked our baked pasta.

When Ger and I said our "goodnight" with me settling into watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix and him back into his office to do more programming, he asked if I would take over the Sunday morning duty, so he could sleep in, since he had spent the whole day working. I agreed.

I woke up to a frigid house, but didn't think much of it since the outdoor temps were in the negative. It wasn't until Quentin woke up and informed me that the thermostat read 61 that I realized something was wrong. Our house runs on radiant heat and sometimes the pilot light for the hot water heater goes out. It was about 7:30, and I woke Ger and told him he was going to need to check on it.

While he got dressed and trudged out to the garage to move our van and do some investigation, I thought about how much I regretted having agreed to take over Sunday morning. I wasn't helping by giving him more time to work... he was sleeping. But I was also tired. He had chosen to work the previous morning, so felt like he had missed out on his morning of sleeping in... but that was his choice.

We've had this arrangement in place for a long time. Probably years. It wasn't that I was unwilling to help him. But I wasn't being fair to myself. I had sacrificed a much-needed morning to myself.

After he came back inside from relighting the pilot, he immediately went back to bed. I followed, Autumn on my hip. I paused before taking a deep breath and saying "I am sorry that I agreed to take over this morning. I shouldn't have done that. I really enjoy having Sunday mornings to myself and I need that time alone."  I tried to balance wanting to help Ger and knowing that he would help me if I needed it, while knowing that I also need to take care of myself.  I spent way too much time last year taking care of other people, knowing that I suffered taking care of myself in the process.

Ger immediately got up, took Autumn, and went downstairs into the kitchen.  I shut the door to the master bedroom.  I finished reading Katherine Applegate's book Wishtree (loved it), since Theo and I are going to see her in person at a school event this week.  I attacked one of my dresser drawers and folded everything a-la Marie Kondo.  I worked on doing some organizing of my Goodreads shelf (since I am a dork like that), and I did some writing.  All while the house began to slowly re-warm.

And this afternoon?  I slipped in some more time to myself.  I dropped the kids off at a birthday party and rather than go home for a brief time before I would need to turn around and head back, I went to a Starbucks instead and sat with a mocha and caught up on some more reading.

I could not wipe away all of the fatigue in a single afternoon, but I had a tiny bit of pride in myself for knowing what I needed today.