Because of the nature of my job, my weekends are usually Thursdays and Fridays. Mr Tís days off are a bit more conventional; his work week starts on Sunday and ends on Thursday. We have one day together a week and back when it was just the two of us, making do with just the one day was hard enough, especially considering that, ideally, we all need three days off a week minimum. Count them: one day completely to ourselves (how else is a girl supposed to schedule a manicure, exactly?); one day to lounge at home all day, slouching in pyjamas, ordering in and watching movies or burying oneís self in novels and napping when the fancy strikes; and, of course, one day to socialise and make plans with friends and do something in the beautiful outdoors or eat too much at a fancy brunch. You see? Three days, minimum.
Now that this tiny little baby is in our lives, with her stranglehold on every one of our emotions, Saturday mornings have become a cruel, torturous exercise in self-control. Once a week, Iím forced to leave my Mr T and Baby A at their most endearing, barely awake, in crumpled pyjamas, cheeks flushed from sleep, hair dishevelled, scent familiar and skin soft. Saturday mornings are hard.
And for me, Friday nights are so strangely awkward. Thereís a certain feeling in the air, like that lump lodged firmly in your throat as youíre saying goodbye to someone you love at the airport, or that quiet sadness you begin to feel when you realise youíre just a few pages away from finishing a book you so loved reading. You want more of it; you want so much more of that Friday night and that weekend that felt almost enchanted. I end up ruining the few hours I have left of the weekend with my poor husband and my edible baby because Iím so upset about having to leave them the next morning.
Maybe thatís what makes weekends so special, so magical Ė the fact that they are so different from work days, bookends to a different sort of life. What are weekends, really, without work days to define them?
During my maternity leave, the days were usually fun. Baby A and I were getting to know one another and there was a lot of exciting anticipation in waiting for Mr T to get home from work every evening. But not having work to fall back on when looking at my week made it seem like time was distorted and, often, Iíd realise I had no idea what day of the week I was living. Life felt like a perpetual holiday Ė albeit an exhausting one (look up the word ďexhaustionĒ in the dictionary and youíll see a picture of a six-week-old baby, guaranteed).
But now, months after the end of the strange ďholidayĒ that was maternity leave, I really canít help but wonder who, who, decided that a weekend should only be two days and not three, or even four. Who?
There is just so much pressure, now, to make the most out of our weekends. Forget lazing the day away on the couch; that is no longer acceptable, even if itís all I really want to do. Every minute of the weekend is accounted for, every activity well thought out in advance, every meal a picture of perfection. Iím beginning to feel that weekends, even the ones that are but a day long, are a lot more exhausting than the rest of the week.
Hala Khalaf is deputy Arts&Life editor at The National
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