Kristen: I couldn't agree with you more. I now look forward to the weekends in ways I never did before. My previous life was much like yours:
Friday evening: Prepare bookbags for service. Since my MS husband would never take responsibility, I helped our children prepare a presentation for the next day. Whenever possible, I would invite a "fun" elder or other family over so that we could make prior arrangements to work together in service the next morning, thus sparing my children from being stuck in a cargroup with a bunch of gossipy, over-zealous pioneer crones who would insist on working door-to-door for three hours without a break. (We owned a van at the time and ALWAYS had a big group with us.)
Saturday morning: Wake everyone up - several times - and insist that my husband had to get out of bed and come with us. No matter how beautiful the weather, or how inclement, I would play the cheerleader, reminding the family of how much Jehovah was pleased with us when we shared in preaching the "good news". At the meeting for field service, the conductor would ask, "Does anyone have arrangements already made?" and hopefully we could raise our hands and reply, "yes, we're working with Brother Coffebreak." By 12:30, we were home and everyone rushed to change out of formal attire and eat. By 1:00, my husband would be back in bed taking his afternoon nap while I entertained the children.
Sunday morning: Depending on the rotation schedule with the other congregations, we may or may not have morning meetings. If meeting was in the afternoon or evening, I would get up and study my Watchtower. I would find a few answers my children might be able to give and go over the material with them, making sure they understood what they were saying rather than just repeating words from rote. Our congregation was not very good at Sunday service, so unless my husband was conducting the meeting for service, we did not go. I struggled to keep the kids awake during the boring public talk by helping them take notes or write down key words. If meeting was afternoon, the entire day was shot.
NOW: I still get up early on Saturday and Sunday. If it's raining, I make coffee, read a book or scan the internet for interesting information. I play Mozart or Bach through the headphones so my daughter can sleep in. I no longer have to listen to my husband snore in the other room, since he is now my ex-husband. In good weather, I run, garden, sit outside on my deck, and enjoy the relaxing time I have. I feel closer to a Creator when I'm running in the forest than I ever did inside a Kingdom Hall. When I jog past neighbors out in their yards, they wave and seem genuinely glad to see me.
Kristen, I wish you could drop by some Sunday morning and bring your music. I'll put the coffee on and we can listen to the birds. You're a person after my own heart.
WAS a sister