My best friend and I generally have interesting conversations, but they have gotten even more interesting now that we have kids. In the beginning is was all about their milestones; now it is mainly about their behavior and if it is normal for a toddler to throw a tantrum that lasts half an hour and prompts several neighbors to knock on the front door in concern. (Okay, the latter hasn´t happened, but it definitely could on some days!)
In our conversation my friend said that the one thing she wished she had done from the beginning of becoming a mother was to retain part of pre-baby self. I asked what she meant by the comment and she said that although she still plays in her orchestra once per week because she loves music, she has dropped all of the other activities that she loved before she became a mother.
So I began to think about this that night. As I lay in bed, I recounted the extracurricular activities I used to participate in before I became a mother. I read. A lot. Tons and tons of books, sometimes even a book a day if it was a rainy weekend and I had nowhere to go.
I kayaked. Had a little green boat that I would take out on the rivers when I lived in Florida. I´d float around for hours, writing in my journal and taking pictures. Which was another of my activities. I took loads of photographs. Even took a photography class when I first moved to LA and learned to do black and white prints.
How about you? What did you do? Did you draw? Read? Paint? Did you meet up with your girlfriends once a month for dinner and drinks? Take in a good movie all by your lonesome on some rainy Sunday just because you didn´t feel like watching another football game? Did you have one day a month when you got waxed, plucked, polished, or otherwise primped by someone whose job it was to wax, pluck, polish and primp other people?
And do you still do these activities, even seldomly?
I still read before bed each night. But I haven´t kayaked in about three years, since finding out I was pregnant, and I haven´t taken my Canon camera out since my daughter became mobile.
It´s not that we can´t do these things. If we make time, we can. Our children can visit their friends once a month. Our spouses, significant others, or family members can spend time with our children while we go out and pursue those activities that once helped to identify who we were. We can hire a babysitter if we have to, even for a few hours a month.
Of course we all know why we don´t retain these pieces of ourselves once we have children: We feel guilty. I´ve posted about that guilt before. We feel like if we have a dime-size speck of free time then we should fill it up with family or cleaning or work.
I realized that evening how important it really is for us (mothers) to continue to pursue those activities we are passionate about even after we have children. Not only do these activities make us feel whole, but they also show our children the importance of pursuing their passions and learning hobbies that can fill up their time and make them happy. So if you´ve neglected to maintain these in your life since the birth of your child(ren), carve some time into your busy schedule to do just that.