It wasn't the most exciting life, but it was mine. I spent weekends exploring new places with my husband. We'd go on mini road trips just enjoying the journey. Sometimes we'd meet up with friends, get coffee or go out to dinner. I loved to spend my evenings reading books and crafting. Sewing was a favorite hobby, with my sewing machine in its place of honor in the spare room.
Then my sewing nook was turned into a nursery and all my crafting supplies were packed in a box. That was okay though because I wouldn't have much time or energy for sewing projects with a new baby in the house. Weekend adventures and brunch dates were put on hold for a while because taking the baby out was a challenge. At least I could still read my books while feeding or rocking my little one.
Then my second baby came along two years later. With a baby and a toddler in the house, reading time was at a premium. My oldest was an energetic child, always keeping me on my toes and the baby didn't sleep well. When I did have a few minutes to myself, sleeping was the priority. My sewing things were still packed away, and outings were more exhausting than fun.
Fast forward six years. My hobbies, adventurous outings and late-night visits with friends were still packed away, pushed aside. All my "hobbies" now centered around my kids, my husband and the housework. In the rare moment that nothing required my attention, I felt lost, unsure of what to do with myself. I'd finally get free time and not have any idea what to do with it.
I had every reason to be happy. I had two wonderful kids, a loving husband and a good home. It just didn't feel like enough. I felt empty. I was a person with no substance. I felt like I needed something more, something to fill that free time. Something just for me.
Then I joined a new playgroup. People were asking me about myself, what I liked to do, my opinions on random topics. I didn't have any answers. I hadn't seen the latest movies or read any recent books. I barely kept up with the news and hadn't done anything interesting lately.
That's when I realized the truth.
All the things that had made me an individual had faded away in the sleepless chaos of having young children. My home life was who I had become. My entire existence centered around taking care of my children, keeping the house and my husband.
I realized then that I was lost. Not in a physical don't-know-where-I-am way, but my individuality had gradually faded away as I created my family. I needed a hobby or interest that was just for me, something of my very own. As a mother, I felt like I needed to sacrifice for my children and put all my focus on them. But that wasn't working. In giving up all my individuality for my kids, I was doing them a disservice.
Taking care of myself helps me take care of my children better. Life is easier and more enjoyable when everyone is happy and healthy, myself included.
It was okay to give up my hobbies and interests while my children were young. Trying to balance small children while keeping up hobbies would have been a lot for me to handle. But now that my kids are older and a little more self-sufficient, it's time for me to rediscover who I am as an individual and do something for myself.
I've been reading books again and pulled out my dust-covered sewing machine from its hiding place. I watch makeup tutorials and experiment with cooking. Sometimes I get my kids involved and we go hiking or cook together. I feel more at peace—like I'm myself again.
It still isn't easy. Life with a family rarely is. There are times a sewing project takes three times longer than it should or I go a few weeks without picking up a new book. When my kids are sick, or soccer season starts, these things often take priority.
The difference is that now I know how important it is to make time for me in between all the craziness life has to offer. I once again have interests and hobbies. Next time somebody asks about me, I know I'll have something interesting to share.