Sunday, November 26, 2006

We live in our expectations, not our experience.

The Sunday night blues are a well-documented, if anecdotal, phenomenon. Clearly, I am not the only person familiar with the malaise that creeps up on most people on the average Sunday. And it's been this way on Sundays for as long as I can remember, dating back to the Sunday evenings when The Wonderful World of Disney movie would end and I went reluctantly to bed.

And not that my weekends were any great shakes in high school, but at least they meant being with people I liked at my part-time job at the Gap, napping and reading, the comforting if sometimes suffocating ritual of Sunday school and church, and its attendant socializing with other church kids and the old ladies who patted your head and fed you icky supermarket cookies. Monday morning meant returning to school, not seeing my boyfriend (who was two years older than me and well done with school), not having enough time to read, and having to wrestle with nightly physics and chemistry homework. (Fortunately my mom was extremely laidback about sick days, and often all I had to say was, “I don’t feel like going to school,” and I got to stay home. Not that sick days referred to that dreadful weight I felt in my stomach every Sunday evening, but maybe my mom got that.)

Freshman year of college Monday morning meant Basic Design class. I hated this class – it was the core class of my major, and yet I seemed to just suck at it. No matter how inventive and creative I thought my projects were on Friday night, invariably my Monday morning class was preceded by a Sunday night drowning in tears, caffeine, cigarettes, and self-loathing, self-pity, or both.

Once I got out of school, I thought my Sunday night blues would disappear. I loved my job, even though it entailed rising at an insane hour to make a forty-five minute commute for a seven-thirty start. But alas, no. Loving my job did not mean Sunday night did not mean the end of a fun and nonstop weekend of partying. And even when I tried to take it easy on Sundays and hang out at home with my roommate and watch TV, Sunday night still meant the end of anticipation – you certainly were not going to meet the perfect guy or catch the perfect movie or throw the perfect party on a weeknight.

The only time I remember not feeling dread on a Sunday evening was when my mother was sick and I was driving back and forth to Philly every weekend. Sunday evenings meant sweet freedom from taking care of my sick, crotchety, terrified mother, dealing with doctors and the hospital and nurses and the drugs and the endless rounds of tests and then disappointment. Sunday evening meant I could get in my car and drive in solitude and silence for six hours, unthinking, unreachable, guilt-free. Those three and a half months were the only time in my life I haven't experienced the Sunday night blues; instead I welcomed Sunday evening's dull tranquility.

And now that I have kids, you’d think Sunday night would almost be a relief. The kids go back to preschool and school tomorrow, I have peace and quiet at work to look forward to, H is out of my hair for another couple days – and yet. That odd creeping melancholy begins late Sunday afternoon, perhaps after I have awoken from a lovely and long nap if I am very lucky. It grows during dinner – invariably leftovers from the more exciting meals of the previous weekend nights – and peaks right after I get the boys in bed for the night. It’s 8 p.m., and all I have to do is throw in that last load of laundry, pack lunches, and go to bed. Nothing to look forward to, except days of laundry and housework, grocery shopping and cooking, schlepping the boys to and fro and hither and yon… till next weekend. Not that I spend my weekends now doing anything all that exciting – sometimes I go out for a few beers with friends, sometimes I get to church, and I work almost every Saturday – but those Sunday night blues rear their ugly heads still.

Tonight I took a book to my little neighborhood bar, had a few beers and some buffalo bites, chatted with a few regulars, came home and crawled into bed with a cup of tea and my computer. I feel better now than I did at seven o’clock tonight. Maybe the trick all along has been not fighting the blues, but going along for the ride. Acknowledging that while the weekend may have been nothing particularly special, it’s nice to have some free time, time to daydream or watch stupid television or make some phone calls. Maybe all along I should have been making friends with the blues, saying, “You know, you have a point. A weekend is pleasant.” But now it’s time to be productive again, to get up Monday morning and throw myself into the routine and get something done. Maybe my hectic life caring for three small children and a decrepit house and a job and whatever is more fulfilling than I thought, or like to admit.

While it’s lovely to lounge on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea Sunday afternoon, there’s also something to be said for climbing up on a ladder and hanging Christmas lights and packing away porch furniture; something to be said for vacuuming and washing the car, and folding and putting away six loads of laundry, of preparing myself for the maelstrom of the week ahead.

So I suppose I’ll see you again next Sunday night, dear old reliable blues. Maybe I’ll buy you a beer. It might help. If not you, at least me.


Bec said...

That beer sounds like a good idea.

I don't get the Sunday blues, but I do get the entire-winter blues, so that probably balances out.

And if that means I can drink beer all winter? I'll consider it.

Can I trade for wine?

Anonymous said...

The 7:30 a.m. job, the one that required you to weld-- I'm guessing that was a reference position at an academic library?

Anonymous said...

I don't get Sunday blues, but I get monthly blues and season blues and I've-got-too-much-to-do-and-not-enough-time-to-do-it blues. They all came together this weekend.

Sarah Louise said...

Oh yeah. Thank God it's Monday! Coffee?

Joke said...

This is what I do...see if it helps. I pack all my weekend excitement (whenever it's feasible, natch) into the Saturday, so that I spend the Sunday recuperating.

I think a big chunk of it is realizing that there is no recuperating from whatever you do on Sunday. Notice you do not get the Sunday blues when it's a 3-day weekend.


MsCellania said...

I have friends who get the Sunday blue so badly, they start lamenting on SATURDAY! If you are having dinner at their house Sat night, they end the dinner with "Oh No; Tomorrow IS SUNDAY!" like it's the end of the world.

I'm just saying - It Could be Worse!

And I love Sundays as I get Sunday to myself quite a bit. I get to sleep in, go out by myself, etc. Sunday we have a big dinner v. leftovers, with special things I've shopped for. Then Monday we have leftovers. And I give myself lots of computer time on Sunday/Monday, too.