I used to be an activist for environmental protection and the rights of animals. I used to be quite interested in world news especially the war in Iraq. That was during my time at university.
I continued these interests after graduation but with less involvement. Eventually the everyday, stress is the wrong word, activities? took up most of my time. Plus, I was tired. Tired of people, namely the men in my life, demanding conformity. I was encouraged to stop trying to ‘stir the pot’ in conversation, stop trying to be ‘different’ and most of all to take on their interests. Stupidly, I mostly complied. Then I got married, which diminished that fire inside of me a little more. Then I had a child, and that fire was extinguished.
I became conventional. I was obsessed with raising the perfect offspring. I gave up all of my own interests in favour of supporting my husband and being consumed by childrearing. I took on the lion’s share of the childrearing, in my opinion, leaving no time for my own continued development. Curling? I was a curling nut before I had a child. I learned the sport when I was 11 years old and played all through high school and university and beyond. I went to tournaments and played regular games twice a week or more. I would take my equipment to the ice some evenings just to get some practise time in. A couple of years ago, after carting my shoes and broom from move to move, I finally donated them to a high school. I had to face the fact that I wouldn’t be able to commit 2 weeknights every week to a sport I had once loved.
Last night I worked late and so Husband took over kid duties. He picked up girl midget from gymnastics, made dinner, and then took boy midget to Scouts. I usually do all of this because Husband gets home from work after 7:30 pm each night. I can rely on him to do all of this just as well as I would.
In the last 2 years or so, I have picked up some new interests. I started a serious crochet hobby and opened an Etsy store (AlliNeedisYarn). I have 2 dogs that need to be walked each day. I move our living room and bedroom furniture around a LOT. I’m a budget decorator, always looking for cheap ways to improve our home. I often come up with projects to do and currently I’m planning an extensive vegetable garden for summer. Our living room shelving/furniture needs improvement so I’m going to focus on that this year too.
In the last 9 months or so I have experienced a real rebirth. I no longer self-medicate with wine, carbs, and fat. I no longer worry about keeping out of the fray of public opinion. I have become more myself in the past year than I have been since university when I was in my early twenties. I suppose this comes with the territory when you have children who no longer need you 24×7, or even 10×7. I think we’re down to 3×7 now, leaving me with time to fill. And fill it I shall.
I never thought I could be married and a mother without compromising myself. To me, being married meant stifling my interests, strong opinions, and even talent. It’s interesting to note that my serious boyfriends and first husband didn’t think this way, and they likely didn’t fully understand how much I was bending for them. Children don’t give a crap how much you are bending; they want what they want. Immediately. That doesn’t matter though, you don’t have to give over your entire self. Building them up doesn’t mean you can’t frolick in the sun. Ugh, the guilt we mothers (and probably fathers too but I really don’t know) endure for pursuing our own interests. Seriously? Why do we women do this shit to ourselves? That’s rhetorical because I know the answer is long, complicated, and steeped in gender roles imposed from day one onward.
One thing I have done with my own children is to teach them, from a young age, that I have feelings, likes and dislikes, dreams, desires, and I need just as much love as they do. So there’s that. Now I just need to remind myself.