Last week my girlfriends and I went out to the movies to see Sex and the City. Afterwards we stopped in a nearby restaurant for some decaf and cheesecake and some ‘woman chat.’
Now, it’s been a while since the three of us have been out. We each have a four year old and a one and a half to two year old. We are busy, and we rarely get down time.
The conversation began something like this.
Friend 1: “Now that I’m married I find that I’ve lost the things about myself that I used to have.”
Friend 2 and I: “Are you sure it is marriage? Or is it the kids?”
Lull in conversation as we think about this and then decide that yes, it really is the kids. Pre-kids but post marriage we all had our own passions. Mine included kayaking and camping out. My friend’s included scuba diving. The other friend enjoyed a variety of activities as well.
Then we had kids, and suddenly those things ended. Abruptly. Like the rug pulled out from under you when you least expected it to be.
Funny, because we all know that children are going to change our lives, but before you have them I don’t think you realize just how much this will happen. And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Honestly, my life has changed for the better most of the time. But, I do miss kayaking, or those stolen moments with my camera and wandering around a hiking trail, when I could just do the things that I loved to do all by myself.
So that conversation got us all to thinking. I talked about it with my husband. Our issue is this: Everyone we know, family wise, lives in Florida. We are in Southern California. See the problem? While our neighbor’s all have local family, people who come over and watch the kids throughout the week or on the weekend so that they can do something together without their kids, we have noone to help.
Sure, you can say to hire a babysitter: But how does $12 per hour for 5 hours sound? Like $60 bucks, which would almost fill up our car. Hiring a sitter really is not an option.
We could, of course, take turns going and doing these things on our own. But I believe, like I told my friends, that it is hard for my husband or myself to say, “I’m going out for five hours to (fill in the blank here: golf, hike, do some photography, meet up with friends, kayak) ” because we understand how tired the other person is because that other person never gets a break and we feel guilty for expecting that other tired parent to do all of the parenting on a weekend when they are tired and just want some rest.
Sure, if we swapped regularly with each other it might work itself out in the long run. We just haven’t gotten that far.
Fast forward to this week. I had put my kayak for sale on craigslist because I really felt that it had been resting in my back lawn for entirely too long (six years) without being used. $250 could be a nice chunk of change for the family to do an outing.
My husband put his motorcycle in the paper that same day. He felt that he wasn’t able to ride it as much as he would like (a half hour here and there every other weekend) so why keep it?
Yet once we started getting responses we looked at each other and realized that what we really needed to do was to start exploring our outside passions once again.
Things have changed since the birth of my daughters, though. I got that kayak out and cleaned it up. Swept out the cobwebs and the spiders, took out the grass that had been blown into it by the landscaping company, hosed it off. I set it up on two chairs and as I was looking at it I realized how much my oldest daughter would love to go out with me, and how fun it would be to spend that special time with her.
You see, now that I have kids I don’t really need that much alone time. An hour here to do my nails, a few hours there to see a great movie and catch up with friends.
What I really want is to do things that I love with my family. I want to share my passions with them in hopes that they can understand me a little better.
Of course, I also want to keep some of those times for myself, and my husband and i have made a promise to do just that. From now on it is a point of ours that we each escape for a few hours every month to follow the things that we love, no matter where they may take us.
The rest of the time, we hope to explore these things with our children, as best as we can.
Tomorrow my daughter and I are going out to purchase a life jacket for her. I’ll let you know how it goes!