And before I go any further – yes, I do know that today is Tuesday. To that end, my husband can lay claim to a most marked “I-told-you-so” today. We have long held a debate on whether the Sunday blues/Monday blahs are inherent to the days themselves or if they fluctuate, influencing whichever combo of days ends a time of rest and ushers in the workweek.
Of the 1784 (or so) Mondays of my life, I would say a good 1500 have been accompanied by dragging feet, mopey moods and as many truancies as I could manage. I’m fairly confident I never attended a Monday in kindergarten – either I had an Oscar-worthy tummy-ache act or my mom just eventually gave up the struggle and figured I could get by on a four-day week. As my years in school progressed and absences were less easily overlooked, I reluctantly participated in that most difficult day. Adding insult to injury, nearly all the exams in college and medical school took place first thing on a Monday morning. Perhaps this could be viewed as an act of martyrdom, with Monday falling on the sword of dreaded events and sparing the other innocent days for lectures, labs and even extra curricular activities (though I suspected Monday secretly enjoyed placing one more hurdle in my path to early-week joy).
Given my lifelong Monday dread, I have held firm that it is the M-day itself that demotivates, demoralizes and deflates the energy gathered from the weekend. I have stuck by the premise that the Monday blues could be eradicated by linking them into the weekend or substituting the usual work-week start up with fun and leisurely plans. In attempt to ease my Monday loathing, a dear friend created for me a “No-Mondays” calendar – covering every Monday of the year with an alternate event or random holiday to replace the doldrums of the day.
I have espoused the theory that starting the week on a Tuesday would eliminate stress, improve productivity and elevate moods. And finally, for the first time, I have had the opportunity to enjoy the occasional Monday off – once every three weeks, I am free of work responsibility on a Monday. Yesterday happened to be the first of these magical Mondays in a number of months due to clinic needs and I was so excited to have that bonus weekend day. There were tasks to be completed; relaxation to be had and events to attend that would have otherwise been impossible with work. I can say that I appreciated the day and figured I would have a terrific week with Tuesday quarterbacking the schedule…but I was wrong.
Today was the most Monday-ed I have felt in a long time. It was all I could do to extract myself from a warm duvet and get dressed for work. Thanks to my patients, clinic was enjoyable, but all the additional office tasks felt heavy and burdensome. As I left my office, I was excited to spend time with the biggest, middlest and littlest but on arriving home, the energy was gone. Usually a heavy training night, the gym simply sounded like a chore. As I lay dozing on the couch, considering if date night would turn into naptime and wondering if maybe I was getting sick, it hit me – I had a case of the Mondays!
Given that it is indeed Tuesday, admitting to my true feelings undermined the cornerstone of my theory and supported my husband’s that the feeling could happen independent of the actual day. Though I certainly don’t like being wrong, I am willing to learn, to grow and adapt so I sat with this for a moment. I stripped down the Monday-ness of Monday and realized that Monday is the ultimate transition and in making that connection, hundreds of pages, articles, chapters I have read in the last eight years of parenting came rushing back. Transitions are H A R D. The toughest moments with our children each day occur in moving from one task to the next. The simple request of finishing breakfast and getting dressed leads to raised voices more often than I’d like to admit. Wrapping up an evening game, movie or book to ready for bed turns the laughing, charismatic middlest into a raging bull of flailing limbs I have not otherwise witnessed. That final moment of departure from the house for the day is the ultimate test of my husband’s patience. In triathlon, the time absorbed by transition adds to total race time, impartial to your speed on the swim, bike or run and has proven more than once to be a weakness in my skill set. Considering what have previously seemed irrational moments of disagreeable behavior, if I viewed these moments as mini-Mondays, I saw them in a whole new light.
As I reflected on this, I considered what is truly so hard for me with Mondays and, indeed, it is the transitional aspect – and more than just from leisure to work. Especially in the attempt to balance family, career and sport, Monday forces me abruptly out of the mindset of relaxed time and into a much busier, structured, demanding role. It starts the clock of another week in which much is to be accomplished. Now, this is not altogether unwelcome – I enjoy the challenges of work, love caring for my patients, appreciate the opportunity to educate residents and explore my skills in administration but somehow Monday feels like the boss of me. On the eve of Monday, I feel very acutely the sentiment that my time will now be divided, like it or not….and truly, I’d much rather have me to be the boss of me.
So, just as in triathlon where transitions must be practiced alongside the other three disciplines if we are to improve our total time, I have decided that I can either surrender and let the Mondayness of Monday invade the otherwise pleasurable days of the week or I can respect the burden that accompanies transition and practice tolerance, build strength to counteract the heaviness and seek the path of least resistance through transition.
With this in mind, I seek immunity from the Monday blahs and even the Sunday blues. I hope we will eradicate all cases of the Mondays and learn to recognize when a transition feels burdensome, limiting or frustrating and, rather than fall victim, find a more effective way through. May we see Monday in a new light and be empowered to truly own the space between.