Saturdays are for me. Occasionally, there are too many kid activities that require a parent driver, making the time no longer mine. For the most part though, I am able to use my mom network (carpool) or the husband (laptop plus hot spot equals quiet work environment). I can then fall into my routine.
Quite often, my boy is the first kid out of bed-very unusual for a teen. He is my helper and I pay in breakfast; very satisfying for both of us. He will get a quick shower while I am topping off my coffee and reviewing my lists. Then we head out, pointed toward Soda City Farmers Market downtown.
Once we arrive, I grab my market basket for cold things, and a few reusable bags for the rest. This is a process, we must look at everything and evaluate; making quick pass up one side of the block and down the other. If the egg line is short, we will go ahead and buy a few dozen, turning in our cartons from the previous weeks to the farmer for reuse. Wil-Moore Farms eggs make the best French toast and the line can be long and slow moving, so we will break routine if necessary. Right beside him used to be Caw Caw Creek pork (pause for a moment of sadness, they are no more) where we would get our sausage. We are now in search of a replacement but can’t find any we like. We have high sausage standards.
Once we have reviewed the offerings, it’s time to buy. I generally try to carry cash only, unless I am buying beef-this is a deep pocket purchase requiring prior planning, budgeting, and plastic. If I only carry cash, then I am limited in my impulse buying. Because I am a sugar junkie, and there are lots of baked goods shouting my name, cash is the best way for me to eat healthy and stay focused on my spending. However, there is always money for little Peruvian cookies with caramel centers (K&K Gourmet Sweets). It’s as though a magnet pulls me into the booth, I just can’t help myself.
The boy is my fetch and carry guy while I look and buy. He will give his opinion when asked, but generally stands patiently by, waiting to bag my choices, or in the summer, make a run to the car with boxes of tomatoes or other produce for canning and freezing. As our basket and bags grow heavy, we slow down because its decision time for him. He loves the Wurst Wagon (sausage snobs, remember?) but is addicted to patty melts that are loaded with onions and grease. This is not from my DNA. I finish up by choosing breads or seafood while he grabs his breakfast. We sit on a curb for him to eat and me to have another coffee while we people watch and listen to live music. The final step is to tip all of the musicians for playing before heading to our next stop.
Often we hit Trader Joe’s or Publix before reaching home. We dearly love TJ’s, except for the blasted cold-summer or winter, it’s miserable in there which shortens our shopping considerably. If its summer, we usually aren’t dressed properly and whizz through the aisles very quickly. Fall and Winter is easier. We like TJ’s for fruits, coffee, cold cuts and cheese. Publix is our fall-back standard, we go there every week, whether or not we make it anywhere else.
Saturday food shopping is one of my favorite routines with my son. He is peaceful to be around, and has interesting thoughts and ideas in his head-it just takes one on one time without other distractions or people for them to emerge.
Once we are home, he unloads the car and usually disappears to find a computer. I pick up the phone to call my sister in Charlotte. She is doing the exact same thing, although she goes with a dear friend rather than a boy, and neither of them eat greasy food for breakfast (although coffee is a guarantee). We are usually pretty well in sync, mostly because we have been doing this long enough to know the others morning routine. She starts earlier but usually makes more stops and has worse traffic. Once I reach her, the headset goes on, and the phone goes into a pocket. We like to talk hands free and we hate how Bluetooth blurs words during long conversations, so we wire up-muttering explicatives when cords catch on drawer handles and earpieces are whipped off of our heads.
Our conversations go on for at least two to four hours. During that time we are washing vegetables, putting away groceries, doing laundry, cleaning bathrooms and doing boring household tasks that are basically mindless. Our conversations cover anything and everything, but work is touched on surprisingly little. Both of us have jobs that require a lot of emotional and mental investment, so on the weekend, it’s an unspoken agreement to clock out, unless one of us really needs to decompress. The remaining topics may be future vacations (we try to camp together at least once a year), our aging parents, books, movies, music, TV shows-whatever we are interested in or currently doing. She doesn’t have children and I have three teenagers so our lives are very different, but I think this adds to our relationship rather than creating any gaps.
Of course, there are times in the conversation when I have to stop for a room clean-up or homework check before allowing a kid to leave for a friend’s house. Because she is attached to my ear, she gets to listen in-and comment-when my check reveals a task that is incomplete. Here is what usually happens:
Me (to a kid): “There are dirty clothes stuffed under this bed and the laundry is already halfway finished. Why didn’t you sort these with the others when I told you to?”
Kid argues: “I did but…..”
Her in my ear: “Why should she, you never did at her age. And what’s under your bed right now?”
Me: “If you sorted them, they would be almost clean by now.”
Her in my ear while kid is objecting vociferously: “Who are you kidding? If nobody was around to check, you’d still be in bed reading.”
It’s like there is a little devil, sitting on my shoulder and making me laugh so that I can’t parent properly. This is also one of many reasons why she is the cool aunt.
We will hang up for lunch break, usually taking 20 minutes or so for a sandwich. The first one done calls the other one back. One by one we finish “to do lists” while enjoying the connection we share. The only thing we can’t do is bake while on the phone. Something always gets left out or measured wrong, leading to terrible results requiring trashcan filing. The difficult “what’s for dinner” question is easily solved. We stand in front of cabinets and refrigerators tossing ingredient lists back and forth, usually with interesting results. Finally, by three or four o’clock, one of us says
“Are you at a stopping point?”
This is a sign to wind up tasks, but we always stay on the phone until both are finished. Then we hang up until next week. Our houses are clean, pantries and refrigerators filled, our minds are clear.
Saturday night is occasionally date night. My husband and I find that we need to get out of the house and have a nice dinner to relax and have good conversation without family life and work distractions. It’s just easier outside of the familiar environment, so we try to do this at least once a month. On the other nights of the month, Saturday is family movie night.
We have a bonus room over the garage that we call the “Necessary Room”. The computer and Wii are there with a large screen TV, DVD player and surround sound (hand me ups from sister and techie brother in law). There are also art supplies, bean bag chairs, tons of book shelves with books, movies, and board games, plus a door that effectively closes off all noise. This is where friends spend the night, musicians can practice, gamers can game. It’s a necessary getaway. This is also where we have movie night, balancing our dinner plates on our laps, usually viewing a download from Amazon. I can’t tolerate the seats in movie theaters for very long so for me, this is ideal. The rest of the family seems to agree, especially since we can stop for seconds, or dessert.
We turn the lights off once we have finished eating, and I often find myself watching my husband and kids in the flickering images thrown from the TV. Saturday night is when I can savor the basic details of my life. This is when I can stop, look and listen, and just be with the people who are most important to me; embedding these memories in my mind for the years to come.