My goal today is to reclaim Mondays from all the haters out there. It is not a random goal. In recent years, my adolescent children have come to dread Mondays and the return to school in ways they never did in the past. Monday casts a long shadow over Sunday and even sometimes Saturday, as they bemoan the return of the week, the structure and repetition of the school day, the work, the risk of failure.
As a parent, it is hard for me to gauge the intensity of their unhappiness. It seems to me that there can be the typical Monday blues or the intense something’s-got-to-change Monday blues, which I had during my first year teaching middle school. I was so unhappy in that role that I had to force myself to drive to work each morning. I remember literally clenching my hands on the wheel. Everything in my spirit called me to turn around, to do anything else. After four years, I made some progress in the role but found the public school climate so negative that I sought a career change, and from then on, Mondays marked the end of the weekend but nothing quite so traumatic.
So here are two extremes: Mondays where one notices the contrast between the freedom of the weekend and the pressure of the work week versus the Monday that casts a long shadow over the weekend and the horizon.
In my experience, if Mondays feel the way they did for me teaching middle school, it’s time to find another job. Any other job. A larger change is needed.
But the other type of feeling–that is the Monday blues I want to challenge. To rename. To reconstruct.
Here’s why: Your life, my life, my children’s life will be filled with Mondays. And as those who have had brushes with death and loss will tell you, every day is a gift.
Let’s start with the basics.
I am alive today.
The people I work with are alive and they all or almost all came back to work today. If any of us were missing, there would be a void in this office, there would be a loss.
So I can celebrate that we are here.
As I write, it is a Monday, and the sun is shining and the sky is blue. It is a cold but beautiful November day. I could worry about the winter ahead and the ongoing threat of bad weather, or I could notice that blue sky and generous bath of sunlight.
Here’s what also can make Monday a special day. I don’t yet know what this week will be like. I may think I do. I may expect more of the same, or I may think that looking at my calendar tells me exactly what will happen, which is perhaps the most foolish thing I ever find myself thinking, really. There are surprises ahead, at least the potential of surprises.
There is also the comfort of routine. At home, my children and spouse are sweet and easy to be around. And sometimes they are not. At work, the routine provides a space where I may step back from that volatility, a space to be someone else by day, someone I am still trying to get to know. I think I know who I am when I am at work, but I am still learning, still changing. The routine is an illusion; change is happening every minute, sometimes the best changes.
Mondays are full of potential, perhaps the richest day of the week in terms of what could happen this week. It is a launching point. If I am going to accomplish anything amazing, either internally or externally, it will start thanks to a Monday. To hate Monday, to avoid Monday, is to hate effort and to hate the steps forward that bring us to new places.
And of course, Monday happens regardless. So to make a stand against Monday is to make a stand against ocean tides. It is futile. We all have moments when we must endure hard times or even hardships. But to create a hardship out of something that could be a resource? That is a shame.
If I wish away my Mondays, I am sleep-walking through my own life. I am missing out on some of the best moments because I am deciding in advance that they are not worth my time or attention.
I often reflect on the idea of scarcity versus abundance. Monday by sheer perception can be a day of scarcity or a day of abundance. It is in your hands to decide which it will be.