I have Thursday guilt.

I have Thursday guilt.

You see, I don’t “work” on Thursdays, at least not officially, not at the clinic.  In fact, I haven’t worked on Thursdays for many, many years.  And at the clinic, we’ve built our practitioner schedule around that; on that day, my treatment rooms are free for the taking by other staff.  Over the years, the clinic has grown into such a busy place that we’re bursting at the seams, and the reality is that we’re now at a point where I wouldn’t be able to work on Thursdays even if I wanted to, because my rooms are full with other practitioner’s patients.

When my daughter began full-time Kindergarten in 2016, joining her older brother in the all-day-school world, I envisioned lazy Thursdays of long runs and naps, hot coffee and newspapers.  Fast forward more than two years and I think I’ve taken a nap once.  Once in about 112 Thursdays.  Because the reality is, Thursdays are usually my busiest day of the week.  They’re the days that I get groceries, tidy the house, squeeze in appointments for myself, run errands, arrange coffee dates, and do all the things that my other days do not allow; they’re the days that I do life.

But inevitably, when a patient asks to book in on a Thursday, and I reply that “I don’t work Thursdays,” guilt nags at me.  I’m a people-pleaser, by nature or nurture, and it niggles at my brain when I can’t be all things to all people.  A character fault for sure, and one that I’m working on, but part of me wonders what they think when they hear that my work-week doesn’t include a traditional Thursday.  Now, logic will tell you (and me) that I work more evenings than the traditional work-week and more Saturdays than the traditional work-week, but logic doesn’t always win.  Logic will also point out that I have very carefully constructed my practice life to align with my values, and Thursdays off have given me the space to find balance for both myself and my family.  But again, logic can be easily strong-armed by guilt.

Is guilt a mom thing?  A female thing?  Or just a me thing?   Perhaps it’s a bit of all three, rolled up and exponentially powerful, a wasted emotion that has no positive value.

Do I work Thursdays?

I sure do.

(And even if I didn’t, that would be okay too.)

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Sundays, puppies, baseball, and books.

I had a moment on Sunday.  Life is moments strung together, isn’t it?  And this one was a moment for the top of the string.

Sunday was a beautiful Fall day, one of those crisp air days, with blue sky and sunshine and the crunch of Ontario maples beneath my feet.  It was the second day of an atypical under-scheduled weekend, two full days in which my family of four spent no more than a couple of waking hours apart.  Just how I like it.  After an early Sunday dinner, we decided to wander over towards the library to return some books and play some baseball.  We grabbed the bat and the ball, the books and the bag, the pup and the dog treats, and away we went.

It’s a short ten-minute walk from my house to Burlington’s Central library, located on a huge urban greenspace with ball diamonds, soccer fields, and a playground just outside the library doors.  As we wandered along, the sky began to shift towards an early sunset, another reminder that Winter is on its way.  We entered the park, and my daughter and I headed towards the book drop bin, while my husband, son, and puppy headed for the baseball diamond.  We called the dog back and forth, a few hundred metres separating ourselves, practicing her recall command, marvelling at her temperament, and showering her with praise and treats.  At the book drop bin, I passed pile after pile of Berenstain Bears books, as my daughter happily loaded them into the drawer, waiting for the thump of a book deposit success.  Job done, we headed back across the expanse of grass, towards the baseball diamond and our family game.

And that’s when the moment happened.

“Mom,” she said, her six-year-old hand in mine.  “I……. I……. I,” she stammered, searching for her words.  I could hear the emotion in her voice and see the depth of her feelings splayed across her face.  “I love you Mom,” she said as she turned towards me and reached her arms up, her unspoken signal to be picked up.  At fifty pounds and four feet tall, she’s not a toddler anymore, but she’s still my baby, and I’ll happily take a wrap-around hug anytime she’s giving them out.

I picked her up, breathed her in, squeezed her tight.  And as her little cheek pressed up against mine, I felt the moment overwhelm me too.

Bliss.  Gratitude.  Joy.  Presence.  Whatever you want to call it, we felt it.

Green grass under our feet, pink sky above our heads, a puppy at our side, a baseball in our hands.  It all came together on Sunday night.

A moment, that’s all.

But a big moment for us.

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Thank you for September.

We’re approaching Thanksgiving, so this post is about giving thanks.  More specifically, it’s about giving thanks to my team at work, who do such a great job and who I’m so grateful to have.

We have had a crazy month at Burlington Sports & Spine Clinic.  As you may know, our clinic is a part of the Complete Concussion Management national network of clinics, and as such, baseline concussion testing has become a big part of what we do.  For the last several years, that’s meant that we schedule a couple of September weekends dedicated to conducting pre-season baseline tests of hockey teams.  This year, that meant three full two-day weekends, and well over 400 baseline tests performed.  We collect valuable data on each player to compare against, should the player become concussed in-season, and this allows us to make safer, more reliable return-to-play decisions.  It’s a great program, and we’re happy to be involved with it, but the logistics are demanding, and that’s where the thanks comes in.  Thank you to Emilia, who kept this ship sailing with late Friday nights and long days on Sundays.  Thank you to Dave, who organized and planned and made this all happen.  Thank you to Amber, Kristy, Mike, Damian, and Britnie, who keep the clinic running smoothly while all this “extra” takes place every September.

A big part of my job, and one of the things I enjoy the most, is talking with my patients.  And what I hear again and again, are work stories that make people happy versus work stories that make people unhappy.  Work is a big part of many of our lives, and I’m ever so thankful that I’ve found a crew to make workdays fun.  They say that you’re the sum of the five people that you spend the most time with, and in September, I was the sum of the people at Burlington Sports & Spine.  Thank you for that.

I won’t bore you with the details of the other side of my life in September: the teacher/football coach husband, the back-to-school rush of two young kids, the puppy, and let’s throw a half marathon in there (bad idea), but I will say I’m thankful for it all.  I’m thankful for the choices I’ve made to get me to this point in life, the opportunities I’ve been given, and the luck that’s come my way.

And as I look towards October, I’m thankful for an under-scheduled Thanksgiving weekend and for the chance to restore some balance and take a breath.

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