Mondays are the beginning of the week, a time of fresh starts and untapped potential. When the calendar says Monday, you know the entire week stretches ahead of you, brimming with possibilities. You have plenty of time to get everything done. However, Mondays also maintain an unappealing distance from the relaxing weekends. Mondays laugh mockingly at you as if to say, “Ha, I hope you’re rested now because you have a lot of work ahead of you!”
When my first son, Tall, was born, I looked at his innocent doll-sized face, and I knew his life would be perfect: he would clearly be smart, good-looking, popular, and talented. I would have plenty of opportunities to teach him Russian, lacrosse, piano, calculus, and gourmet cooking, even though I myself know how to do none of those things. He could learn! He was brand new here!
When he wasn’t fluent in Russian at the age of one week, I did not panic. I knew we still had plenty of time, and I’d been told it was a fairly easy language to learn anyway. I decided to add cello and water polo to baby’s “To Do” list.
At five months, he began to crawl. We were way behind schedule. How was he ever going to master those complicated calculus equations or become proficient in dicing cucumbers at this rate?
At ten months, he walked. I was despondent. He had never even sat at a piano keyboard, let alone played a symphony. Like that earring that you stupidly put on over the bathroom sink, my dreams for him slipped out of my grasp and went sliding down the drain.
At one year old, he gave me a tight hug at bedtime and sweetly murmured his first word: “Nigh-nigh.” Great, the only thing this kid cares about is sleeping. You can’t practice your lacrosse maneuvers with your eyes closed!
When Tall turned two, I had all but given up on his child prodigy status. Sure, he could carry on complex conversations using his vocabulary of 500 words or so, but only in English. The pediatrician kept insisting how advanced he was. I scrutinized the waiting room, witnessing all the babies drooling and throwing plastic toys. They were probably what our doctor considered “advanced,” too. This did not bode well.
Soon after this, I discovered I was pregnant with my second son. It was Monday all over again.
After Short was born, The Husband and I opted not to push him with Russian, lacrosse, and piano. No, after the dismal results with our older son, we’d learned our lesson. We focused on art instead.
We bought our new baby non-toxic paints, wooden brushes, large easels, and special paper. He yawned and acted like he didn’t care. If we handed him a paintbrush, he tried to eat it. He cried when I got out the sculpting clay. At six months old, he was following in his brother’s (unimpressive) size 3 footsteps. He had yet to paint a single canvas, let alone a museum-worthy masterpiece.
My sons are now four and a half and seven. They produce four and a half times seven their body weight in laundry on a weekly basis. The only algebraic equations around here involve how many loads of clothes we can wash before we run out of detergent.
I look at the calendar, not to fantasize how much fun I’ll have on the weekend, but to calculate how many hours I’ll have to spend in the laundry room on my own perpetual cycle of clean-rinse-repeat-spin. Where do all these clothes come from? Do they multiply during the night? I have sons, for goshsakes! I would expect this magnitude of wardrobe options from fashion-obsessed girls, but non-lacrosse-playing boys? Can’t they just wear jeans and a t-shirt and call it a day?
In between all the quality time I will be spending with my Maytag, The Husband and I must coordinate a complex series of driving plans (pick-up, drop-off, who, when, where) to chauffeur the boys individually to various birthday parties and endless activities (God forbid one of our cars is having the oil changed). Our sons’ social lives rival any Hollywood starlet, and far exceed ours (which consists of us graciously inviting the elderly neighbors over for a friendly glass of wine—and being rejected yet again). Parenthood is not restful, not on Saturday, not ever.
I query some of my mom friends, experienced parents with college-age children, to find out when things will get easier for me. “Are you kidding?” asks my friend Michelle, shaking her head in utter disbelief at the absurdity of my question. “Alexandra still lives at home! Plus she drives! Now I get to worry about her going out with her friends and being a careless driver and causing an accident. It’s like every night is Friday night. I’m a nervous breakdown waiting to happen.”
Hence, my new motto: “Embrace the Monday.”
(“Mondays Of Valor”)