I got 99 problems and a hobby ain't one.
I've thought about this topic for quite some time now, and debated writing about it because I know there's a chance others will disagree with me (or even worse...try to make me feel better) - and I generally like to live my life being right and with as little confrontation as possible.
So to avoid any negativity, let me state the point I'm attempting to make right away: I don't think it's wrong for moms to have hobbies. In fact, I think quite the opposite. But I'm in no rush to find mine again and I'm done feeling guilty about it.
There. Now let us continue.
Before Carter and Cullen, I had a lot of hobbies. Mostly because I had disposable income, ample free time, and a bladder that worked properly. I was really into Crossfit and doing healthy eating challenges. I used to spend my weekends cycling in the foothills or backpacking up 14'ers with friends. When I met Donald, we started on our quest to hit every brewery in Colorado.
#relationshipgoals. I dabbled in trail running, a graphic design side hustle, played team kickball and volunteered. I say all of this not to boast but to paint a picture. I led a pretty action-packed life that I enjoyed and that was full of extra-curriculars that kept me from defining myself just by my job. As we grow older and into careers that we actually like, it's easy to let your job define you. It's important to remember that other things can.
It'd be easy to follow that last paragraph with, "well, then I had kids and life was over and 'whomp whomppppp', woe is me." But none of that is true - having Carter and Cullen enhanced and enriched my life in ways that those hobbies never would. Those two ginger babies are the best things that ever happened to me (with Donald coming in close behind...hi, babe). But as I've watched them grow, I watched my outside interests fade. I've traded trail running for daycare pick ups and breweries for breastfeeding (that's such a lie - I still do both, but I had to capitalize on the alliteration). Kickball is replaced with watching Carter learn how to kick one himself. My graphic design endeavors put on hold because well, Carter stepped on my iMac and broke it. Extra-curriculars feel dramatically different nowadays.
Halfway into my pregnancy with Cullen, I met some girlfriends downtown for dinner. I wore my nicest maternity dress - a fancy gray cotton wraparound from Old Navy. Complete with some side-panel boob holes for easy access to feed your kid. Sexy. I sat with some of my favorite women on the planet - none of who have children - and tried my best to feel normal. I noticed how each of them were wearing a beautiful, trendy, stain-free, no boob-access dress. And heels. We exchanged stories - their's about a recent shopping trip or planned vacation to Europe...mine about Carter's 6 day poop strike. I felt the tears welling up and I excused myself to pull the hormones together. I remember looking in the bathroom mirror and thinking, "You are happy. You love how things are. You love being a mom." I also remember feeling so disconnected from anything that made me me before, like all that defined me were eating schedules, daycare wait lists and loads of laundry.
So over time, I've tried to remember what my hobbies pre-kids were and do them:
Crossfit: I joined the local gym. I loved it for a while, until I realized the stress of my milk supply tanking with every intense workout and the risk that I'd randomly pee my pants wasn't worth it.
Graphic design stuff: like I said before, my kid stepped on my computer. Lesson learned.
Team Kickball: it's no longer appropriate for a 32 year old (mom or not) to get shitfaced in City Park and throw a ball at strangers. Next.
Hiking: I've done this once or twice. With kids. So, it's been more like walking while carrying another human who's slapping you in the back of the head while constantly demanding snacks. Fun!
Cycling: Sure, yeah - let's introduce a small, skinny, hard plastic seat to my war-torn pelvic floor. Hard pass.
This may seem like a giant list of excuses why I can't return to my old self and hobbies and it totally is. Because the truth is - I don't want do those things anymore. I don't want hobbies right now. My hobby is being a mom. I don't think I'll always feel this way but maybe I will - don't know, never done this before. Maybe as my kids get older I'll find the energy and desire to define myself outside of them. Or maybe the right thing will come along tomorrow and I'll make the time for it. Right now, though - I'm done feeling guilty that the only thing I feel defines me are the two humans I created. I kind of like them and I like that they're my "thing."
And before you get too worried about me and/or my mental health - I know this is a phase, guys. For everything, there's a season. This too shall pass. Whatever you want to say. I will eventually find something other than Motherhood to connect with and to fill my time. Until then, it's runny noses, immunization schedules and dirty diapers. It's carrying a mental load that, on top of working full-time, has me leaving my keys in the refrigerator on a daily basis. I'm okay with that for now.
But to any other mom out there who feels similarly - who may feel the pressure to find her "thing" again, a new hobby entirely, or something to help define her outside of being a mom - I've put together a list of interim mom-related hobbies I've been testing out/plan on trying while I figure all this new life shit out. All can be done on little sleep, without leaving the house*, and with limited mental capacity. Enjoy!
Netflix. It's easy - just lay on the couch, turn it on and look - hobbies!
Netflix + wine. This one's a little more advanced so ease into it.
"Softball." *This one does require leaving the house. All you need to do is make your husband believe you joined a softball league, and then meet your best mom-friend(s) at the local brewery. I promise I don't do this every Wednesday (love you, BEB! BEN DRANKIN4LIFE) Other options/lies include "book club."
Putting together elaborate Pinterest boards for children's birthdays. Remember that in the end, no one cares.
Overthinking the general physical, mental and cognitive development of my child. No explanation needed. Can be done at anytime - most frequently at 3am.
Cooking something other than chicken nuggets and actually eating it while warm. Try this only after the kids are in bed and don't be a hero, get Sunbasket.
Drinking beer on the porch. Look, you're being outdoorsy!
Reading Colorado State Reports on citations against my children's daycare and overreacting. Or what I like to call...last Tuesday.