Friday, September 5, 2014

I Used to Dread the Weekend

I used to dread the weekend. It's one of my most cringe-worthy Mormon memories. Back when I was a young mom, my hands covered in eczema, on the last morning of the work week, I'd roll out of bed and think to myself, Oh shit, it's Friday. Or, according to the ExMormon Urban Dictionary, OSIF.

The reason being that after Friday comes Saturday. And everyone who has been a member of the one and only true church knows that Saturday is that special day when Mormons get ready for Sunday. Literally. There's even a song for kids.
Saturday is a special day.
It's the day we get ready for Sunday:
We clean the house, and we shop at the store,
So we won't have to work until Monday.
We brush our clothes, and we shine our shoes,
And we call it our get-the-work done day.
Then we trim our nails, and we shampoo our hair,
So we can be ready for Sunday.
So while the other families in our neighborhood were off boating, camping, or lazing around the pool, the Bantas were making 8 a.m. runs to Target and the grocery store, cleaning house, mowing the lawn, doing laundry, preparing our church talks or lessons, and then maybe squeezing in a Little League game before we had to haul ourselves to some stupid but mandatory church activity. Because there's always an activity, a truth we are reminded of even now, when Mark and I happen to drive by the LDS Church on Saturday - perhaps on our way to the beach - and see the parking lot packed.

Then comes the dreaded Sunday. I don't think I need to go into too much detail here, especially when my friend over on Thoughts Per Coffee has written her own brilliant take on the Mormon version of the holy Sabbath.

I was between a rock and a hard place - miserable and demoralized when I attended church, miserable and guilt-ridden when I skipped out. After all, who wouldn't want to go to the one and only true church?

Me, that's who.

I made all the excuses; I faked illness (although a stress-induced migraine coupled with eczema-inflamed hands wasn't exactly fake); I skipped out after Sacrament Meeting (it's partaking of the sacrament that's most important, right?) Finally, I declared myself a failure and just quit going.

And that was a good thing. Because then I started looking forward to the weekends - even Sundays.

For example, this past Sunday when some of my fellow heretics and I celebrated the Sabbath by cooking Zuni Cafe roasted chicken and bread salad.

I had been looking forward to this all week!
All prepared to partake of the sacrament.
Me and my friend, Don, who left the church at age 12 when he was kicked out of the "Tuesday afternoon thing."

A couple of Fridays ago I checked the calendar on my iPhone to see "Sacrament Meeting" appear on my upcoming Sunday schedule. A dear young woman I've known practically all of her life had recently returned from her mission and was scheduled to give a talk. I smiled and thought to myself, I'm looking forward to that!

After a fun, stress-free Saturday, Mark and I awoke Sunday morning, managed to find some reasonably well-brushed clothes and scuff-free shoes and headed for church. I didn't have a migraine and my hands didn't itch. The meeting was enjoyable because it featured our friend, and we had a rush of pleasant nostalgia while singing the hymns. Afterward we hugged our friend and her family, and then left without staying for Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society.

And I didn't feel guilty. Not even a little. 


  1. Lovely post, Donna. Amazing how much the stress level goes down upon losing that religion. Here's wishing you many many more stress-free Sundays!

  2. Here, here Ms. Banta. It's nice to own the weekends! Not missing Church with, all it's trappings, not even a little bit!

  3. Thanks AT and JJ. I'm starting into what promises to be yet another pleasant weekend as we speak. Hope you are too!

  4. I raise my cup of coffee to guilt-free, relaxed weekends. Who needs demoralizing church rituals?

  5. This is a beautiful post. And that song is terrible.

  6. Mmmm I love Sunday mornings now. Sleep in and cuddle with the hubs, mid morning french toast, just a lazy and non scheduled day...

    What I love to watch is the church members speeding to get to their meetings while I drink coffee on the front porch or am walking on the nature path- and non of these people are smiling. If church is that true and that great they shouldn't be late and they should be elated to attend. You'd think.

  7. I'm lucky, because this was only a summer way of life for me. i did several summers in the care of Utah relatives for various reasons until my parents each grew a brain. Anyway, once I actually said to my aunt, "Look, you send all of us to summer school from 7:45 until 1:00 Monday through Friday.. You have one kid left at home every day, and even HE goes to preschool three days a week for three hours. Exactly what is it that you are doing with your time when we're away that keeps you from doing any housework whatsoever, so that Saturday isn't some kind of frenetic marathon of cleaning, gardening, and grooming?" For that, I was slapped across the face, but I'm still glad I said it.

    It caused her husband to look at her and say, "What is it you do during all the time the kids are away from here? I'm all for every one of them doing chores every day, but it's sort of looking like they're the only ones doing any work. You even make the kids cook, every night, not to mention that they get no help from either of us with the dishes. I'm not sure Alexis doesn't have a point."

    Then he turned to me and said, "YOU were disrespectful and deserved exactly what you got."

    I know his kids are still grateful to me, though their mother hates me with a loathing usually reserved for serial killers..

    All my aunt was doing with her time was getting together with her cross-the-street neighbor and trying to think up cooler relief society crafts than the other ward had, The ward boundary was right on the middle of their block, and competition between the two wards, who shared a meetinghouse, was unbelievably fierce..

    I stil hate that "Saturday" song with a vengeance.

  8. Thanks guys! I'm with Ahab, to hell with demoralizing church rituals. And Marion, that song is truly terrible. Imagine depriving yourself and your kids a day off.

    Heather you make a great point, if church is so fantastic, why is everyone always late? I can't remember the last time I was late to a movie.

    Alexis, it sounds to me like your aunt is one of those Mormon SAHM's who would have preferred a different career, denied herself the opportunity out of "righteousness" and instead uses the RS as a poor substitute for a profession and takes her frustration out on her kids. A bad combination.

    1. that very well could be a large part of her problem.. I'm pretty sure she's also bat-shit crazy. Why else would she have married a man who looked just like Lee Harvey Oswald? the kids who are old enough to have escaped are the happiest they've ever been in their entire lives.

    2. Oh my! I'd forgotten about the LHO resemblance. So he's the guy who called you disrespectful? Ick.

  9. I feel for you. Just after college I used to leave just after the sacrament (not the meeting, just the bread and water). I mean, I got dressed up in a suit for about, what, 25 minutes of church?

    And I felt guilty, but church was just bad.

    Then I got married, and started going full time for two more decades, often feeling headachy or sick or anxious or whatever. Even when I felt good I felt bored. Then they made me sacrament chorister and I got to look out at everybody, and they all looked headachy or sick or anxious or bored. Nobody looked happy to be there. That's when I realized I wasn't the one with the problem, not unless everyone else had the problem, too.

    1. Goldarn, you are so right! I remember every time I had to give a talk I'd look out at a tragically bored/pained audience. Very telling indeed.