I've been seeing the following bumper sticker gracing the backs of minivans around town:
"I used to be cool."
I'm sure it primarily pertains to the drivers' surrender (or upgrade, depending on your position) to a family truckster, but it got me thinking. Not that I used to be cool--pretty sure I could never really claim that--but rather that I used to do cool things.
I used to travel. A lot. Big trips all over the world during my summer breaks from teaching, but also weekend getaways to nearby locations. One year, my husband and I weren't home a single weekend during the month of February, partially living out of an overnight bag.
I used to dance. Once, and sometimes twice, a week, I took tap classes at a studio with other adults, practicing choreography for upcoming shows, recitals, and competitions. I still can't hear the song, "If the House is Rockin'" without running through the opening steps in my head. One time I even performed a hip hop routine before a professional basketball game.
I used to play roller derby. For one shining season before I was taken down by the "nine month injury" (pregnancy), I was a proud member of the Angels of Death, one of the Memphis Roller Derby League teams. It was a thrill to put on my skates/helmet/knee pads/wrist guards and adopt my alter ego, Hip Czech, as I jostled for position around the track.
But I don't do any of these things anymore. I know a lot of that has to do with this season of motherhood, but I also know plenty of moms--and dads--who make time to knit or make beer or run marathons. Perhaps that's the key: make time.
My husband is a shining example of this. Even though he basically works two full-time jobs due to his extra military service, he still manages to have hobbies. The man has planted a garden in our front yard, taken up archery, and re-taught himself cursive writing. That last one really gets me because last spring I took a hand-lettering class as part of a mom's night out, and do you know how many times I have practiced this new skill? Exactly zero times.
I really yearn for a creative outlet that allows me to produce something tangible (I think the buzzword is to be a "maker"), but I just can't bring myself to begin anything new when I know that there is still work to be done. The mantra "work before play" is deeply ingrained in my mindset. The thing is, I will NEVER be done with all my work.
I do take time for myself--writing for this blog is one example of that--but I really wish I had a more interesting answer when someone asks me what I do in my spare time.
One evening while lamenting (again) to my husband that I wish I was able to participate more in the aforementioned garden, the thought occurred to me that I am supporting his ability to do so. He is able to putter around in the yard or shoot his arrows precisely because I am supporting him by watching the kids or taking care of indoor chores. (Before you jump on my husband's case, please know that he would do the same for me...if I had any hobbies to support.)
Really, it's up to me. Do I settle for being a "hobby supporter" all the time, or do I need to try something new even though I don't have time for it? Is there a way to balance personal growth and creativity with all of the daily tasks of motherhood? Does it always have to be a balance? Should I stop thinking about it and in the immortal words of Nike "just do it"?
So, anyone want to teach me how to crochet?