There have been a lot of things that have surprised me since bringing Raven home just over five weeks ago–my maternal instincts kicking in, the sheer amount of excess skin around my middle, how many hours a day I can spend just looking at my baby, the delirium that seems to come with the 3 a.m. feedings…
But one thing that kind of shocked me a couple days into the process (after all the hullabaloo of visitors and hospital appointments was over) was that I felt kind of…bored. Please don’t get me wrong–I love being at home with Raven. I really do! I like knowing that I’m there for her when she needs me and that I get to see all her little milestones and that I don’t hardly miss a minute of her rapidly-happening development.
But I’m not one who’s used to sitting around a lot with no outside demands pressing for my time. I’m used to having hundreds of ungraded essays hanging over my head and a demanding church calling eating up my spare time. After finishing up the last of the grading that I was going to do (since my long-term sub graciously agreed to pick up from the point when he started teaching) and being released from my calling, I have found myself floundering in the thick of thin things when I do get a spare moment to myself–I’m so not used to having so much time at home that I tend to waste almost all of the leisure time I do have on meaningless activities like social media feeds, Candy Crush, and Netflix.
This has all surprised me because it’s not something I’ve heard anyone talk about before–pretty much everyone I know usually just talks about how much they love being a stay-at-home mom, and they all seem to be involved in all kinds of things: play dates, volunteering and service, crafts, intricate Pinterest projects that usually involve much more fabric and/or frills than I’m comfortable with.
One thing I was worried about before becoming a mom was that I would lose myself–that in the process of caring for my children, I would basically have to sacrifice my own interests and development. I can see even more clearly now how valid that fear is–because I get satisfaction out of seeing Raven happy and because I don’t seem to have much energy left over after helping her to get that way, I can see why it would be easier just to give up on myself and spend the rest of my days focused on her and the siblings who will eventually follow.
And a part of me wonders now–would that really be so bad? Isn’t that noble, to make sacrifices in the service of others?
But my indomitable spirit won’t seem to let me totally give in to that route–perhaps it’s my spirit that makes it so I force myself to at least put on a little makeup and attempt a hairstyle every day because I don’t want to completely let myself go. Perhaps it’s my spirit that keeps me up during naptime to read a few chapters or to blog, even though I know the wiser path of action might be to sleep. Perhaps it’s my spirit that kept that fear alive in the first place so that I wouldn’t put myself in the box of “Mom” and forget about all the other aspects of who I am.
I don’t know what it is that drives these things. I don’t know if these are things that all new mothers go through. (Like I said, it seems like no one talks about it.)
Whatever it is, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what brings me joy and how I can incorporate those things into my stay-at-home-mom life: things like running, photography, reading, socializing, traveling, blogging, playing games, dancing, and working.
Some of the things had to wait awhile by necessity (like running and dancing and traveling). But one thing I’ve started doing more of to beat back the boredom is to go back to baking. Of course, when I say “back to,” I don’t mean to suggest that I ever stopped–rather, that I stopped working on it, experimenting with it, trying to develop my talent for it. Basically, I had just gotten into a rut where I stuck to the same 3 or 4 recipes and called it good because “cooking” (and yes, there is a difference) took up any amount of energy I had after a long day of teaching.
But now–now!–I have the time to do what I didn’t before: to try out a new recipe (or three) every week, to learn how to make the perfect pie crust, to finally try my hand at making a souffle or a creme brulee or mini cheesecakes.
I’ve been starting pretty easy–basic white bread, muffins. This week’s experiment was with this recipe for double chocolate muffins, and it made me realize that I’ve gone pretty much my entire life without giving muffins much of a chance: sure, I’d always liked them well enough, but I’d never understood the scrumptious perfection of a homemade muffin on a drizzly weekday morning.
I’ve been trying to slowly get into some other projects too–I want to try out a hip-hop aerobics class at the local rec center this week, I’ve started on some possible future gifts for people, and I’ve been working my way back into my photography business.
But I still feel like I need a new hobby–something that will give me that spark and make this new “Mom Me” feel like the “Me” I knew before.
Maybe I’ll look into taking an adult ballet class in the summer. Or maybe I’ll actually learn to sew “for real” this time. Or maybe I’ll resurrect my childhood love of scrapbooking. Or maybe I’ll just stick to my tried-and-true passions and just work on those. Whatever it will be, I feel like the sooner I start the better (otherwise, I worry I’ll get into bad habits that will just never go away because it’s the way I’ve “always done this stay-at-home thing”).
Stay-at-home moms—how do you keep your passions alive? DO you actually work on keeping them alive? Are there any new skills or hobbies you’ve taken up since becoming a mom?
I would love everyone’s thoughts on this.