No matter where I am in my life, Monday mornings bring much baggage. When I was in high school, Monday mornings were difficult because I had to go back to rising early and schlepping off to school. I actually did walk about a mile each way to school, so in the cold of New England winters, it was a brutal walk. Of course, I didn’t help matters by wearing my little white Keds and flats with bare feet as I slogged through the slush and ice, but I can be forgiven for that; I was a teenager.
In college, I made quick work of early morning risings and after the first semester had worked my schedule so that my first class never started before ten o’clock. By the time I reached my junior year, I had rearranged my course load to ensure that I had Mondays and Fridays off entirely. My parents shook their heads in disbelief and my father wondered what he was paying for, but as my mother once told me, so long as I kept my GPA at a 3.5 or above, they didn’t care.
Graduating and getting up for a job was hard after almost four years of leisurely Monday mornings, but by then I had gotten the hang of starting my wind-up to the week on Sunday evenings with a cup of tea and a good book before bed. Plus, having a real job and living in my own apartment, and having my own car – all paid for by the money I was earning! – was exciting and liberating.
The jobs between college and law school are nothing more than a blur now, and once I started law school, I dreaded Mondays. As an evening student, Monday was my long day. I worked full-time during the day and attended school three nights a week beginning at 6pm. Monday nights I was in class from 6pm until 10pm. I picked up my first coffee habit in law school, drinking any coffee I could get my hands on, even the swill from the corner store, in an attempt to stay awake during the last couple of hours of contact law.
My Sunday night ritual with tea and a good book continued, even more important than ever because the only other things I read during the week were law books for school and legal documents at work (I spent almost six years working as a paralegal before and during law school). I even converted my then-boyfriend to the tea and reading practice; of course, whether he maintained it I have no clue.
After my divorce, I held on tighter than ever to my familiar; it kept me sane during the darkest and longest nights. Daylight was my friend; work was my friend. Six years later, when I married Ernie Hemingway, life got hectic with two teenage stepdaughters and a baby on the way shortly thereafter. Somewhere along the way, my Sunday night routine gave way to the occasionally stolen moments with a book and tea.
Coffee became my staple as my baby boy preferred either not sleeping or sleeping on me, making mama slumber nearly impossible. It was not easy on my sleep patterns, but I wouldn’t trade one second of those early days with The Boy slumbering on my chest, nursing on demand and then falling peacefully back to sleep. I knew he would be my only child, and I wanted to savor every moment.
The days blended together then, and Ernie Hemingway leaving for work on Monday mornings was the only reason I ever knew what day of the week it was. I read a lot during those long nights, my book light the only illumination as the two most important people in my life slept on and next to me. I tried but never really could sleep; I took cat naps, nodding off for a few minutes, then starting awake when the baby moved on my chest or when he reached out his little hand to touch me.
When we moved into our house five years ago, I tried to create a plan. Mommy and me music and gym classes, playdates, Friday night Shabbat services, visits with grandparents, and most important of all, a bedtime and routine to go along with that bedtime. I needed a way to find my own schedule again, and giving my son one seemed the surest way to do it.
Although a schedule never really stuck with The Boy, starting him at school helped, and over the last three years, he’s gotten better at sleeping and spending a little bit of time doing his own thing. I haven’t gotten my Sunday night tea and reading routine back, but now it seems less necessary. I have a wonderful man with whom I share my life, and our Sunday nights are spent talking and planning, discussing our dreams and our life, our children, and the wonderful things that await all of us as the future rolls on.
My Monday mornings once again herald the start of a new week, and I watch The Boy fight them the same was I used to struggle. Of course, he doesn’t walk to school; he walks out into the driveway, hops into the car and plays on the iPad during the ten minute ride to his school. Watching him leap out of the car and run to his classroom this morning, it occurred to me that the iPad is his re-entry routine, much the same as tea and a book were mine all those years ago.
I guess some things never really change, they just take on different forms.