10.25.2018

Having My Own Thing

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Have you seen the hashtag #postcardsformacron around Instagram and Twitter? Apparently the French President, Emmanuel Macron, said "Present me the woman who decided, having been perfectly educated, to have seven, eight, nine children." Lots of highly educated mothers of large families have, in fact, presented themselves! 

Seeing mothers of many from around the world who are successful professors, judges, lawyers, doctors, politicians, artists, and writers has been undoubtedly very inspiring. I have no regrets with my decision to have children immediately after earning my bachelor's degree and stay home with them instead of pursuing a career or advanced degree. I feel very grateful to be able to make that choice - I love having so much time to connect with my children and I think having one parent at home makes our family life much less stressful. 

But, this whole thing has reminded me that for my first several years of motherhood, I had a lot more time to invest in my own interests. Up until my oldest daughter turned four and my third daughter was born, all of my children napped for a couple hours every afternoon and went to bed very early. I could easily take the stroller out for a walk after naptime, to get some exercise and listen to an audiobook. I had plenty of time when my children were sleeping for reading, writing here (my favorite creative outlet) and working on sewing or house projects. 

Yesterday, I took my kids to the library and the park, homeschooled them, and took them to ballet. Three years ago, one of those activities would have been perfectly sufficient. I'm literally doing three times the activities with twice as many children. My almost seven and almost five year-old daughters can be pretty helpful (bathing themselves, making their beds, putting their laundry away) so I'm starting to see a glimmer of hope there, but life is still much busier now. 

Ten years ago, I was nineteen years old. I had so many interests! I loved studying history, literature, and French, my internship in fundraising at a history museum, playing the clarinet, and learning more about my Catholic faith through bible studies, talks, and retreats at the Newman Center. Of course, what I wanted most was to marry the boy I had already loved for quite a while and have a family with him. 

I know I've kept learning since graduating from college. I've read hundreds of books. I taught myself how to sew and knit. I can even make buttonholes! I've conquered so many recipes that I used to find very intimidating. I know how to roast a chicken and make chicken noodle soup from the leftovers. I know how to make a great pot roast and turn the leftover meat and potatoes into cottage pie. I know to how to make cinnamon rolls, eclairs, puff pastry, and homemade ice cream. I've learned about gardening and home improvement and personal finance and, obviously, a lot about caring for and educating young children. 

The other major difference in my life since college graduation is that I now own a smartphone. My four children do keep me very busy, but I spend a significant portion of my free time on my phone in not the most productive manner. Every day I read to the kids while they eat lunch and then they usually play happily for a bit while I have my own meal. I should spend that time reading a real, physical book, both because I love to read and because I want my kids to see my reading! (I almost exclusively read via the Kindle app on my phone while nursing the baby.) Instead, I usually spend that time looking at Instagram...

So, that's the first small thing I'm resolving to change in order to foster some of my own interests again. I feel like I've transitioned to a new stage of motherhood, from having only little ones to having both school-age children and little ones. I hope to be in this stage for quite a while, so I'd like to get a better handle on how to still be "me" in the midst of it all. I want my kids to know that I love them and being their mom, but I also love my book club or playing tennis or teaching a class at the coop or singing in the church choir. Just hypotheticals! I'm not sure what this will look like just yet but I'm hoping to take this next six months before I turn thirty to figure it out.

P.S. I'm not quite sure when I'll be back (I've got a first birthday quilt to finish!) so I'm using this an excuse to share our new family pictures with you. They're from Jen Sanders Photography.

2 comments:

You are awesome.