When you’re a busy mom (or dad), it’s hard to find time for yourself. You’re grateful to be able to take a shower without interruption! But hobbies are more than ways to fill the precious rare seconds of free time – they define us. If your kid knows you love to weave or sky dive or use a metal detector on the beach, it offers him/her so much to learn about life.
First, they will learn that parents can exist in another universe besides the everyday tushy-wiping and food prep universe and realize that people are multi-faceted. Secondly, they will become aware that there are interests outside their own current passions, which will open their eyes to new ventures. Thirdly, they will always be able to think of something to buy you as a gift! It sets such a wonderful example in so many ways.
As a child, teenager and young woman, I was into art. I drew, painted, spent time at the pottery wheel, learned print-making and did a lot of doodling. With my first son, I wanted to teach him what I knew and we did a lot of art together. I remember teaching him how to draw shadows by figuring out where the light source was. He would get frustrated because he wasn’t as adept at drawing as I was, so that gave me the opportunity to teach him about the value of practice.
When my second son came along, life got really busy and hasn’t really abated since. That must be why the pictures mounted in the photo albums ended when he was about 6 months old (they are all stored in boxes). I was working, carpooling, visiting therapists and learning disability consultants, and a lot of other time-consuming but hardly artistic endeavors. I knitted and did some calligraphy, but that was about it.
However, I am a passionate gardener, and my children have participated in that hobby with me. We started seeds in the house and planted them in the garden when it was warm enough outside. It was very challenging to teach them about weeds, because to kids (and even to grownups), they look like flowers. After a few unfortunate experiences, I decided to stop delegating weeding! But they could help with staking tall plants, fertilizing (my older son called cow manure “cow food”), dead-heading and then rejoicing when more beautiful flowers bloomed! We even harvested seeds and saved them to plant the next year.
We have wild bamboo growing in the front of the yard, which was perfect for staking the tall flowers, so the kids and I would gather the bamboo and cut it into the right lengths. They insisted it was not real bamboo, though, so they called it “shamboo.” Hey, it looks like bamboo, it acts like bamboo, and just because there are no pandas munching on it doesn’t mean it isn’t real bamboo!
When the summer gets muggy, out come the slugs. Some of you may remember how much I hate slugs. They serve no purpose as far as I can see. However, they can and will decimate my garden overnight. I tried the beer traps, but they didn’t go for that, so the only answer was (((shudder))) picking them off the plants. They do their dirty work mostly at night so the boys and I would go out with flashlights and plastic bags over our hands, and pluck away.
The kindness to all living creatures I spent years teaching them went out the window when it came to slugs, and I told them they were free to do with them whatever they wanted. They invented the Salt Ring of Death. Slugs dissolve if you sprinkle salt on them, so it’s easy to kill them. But that was not satisfying enough for my young demons. They wanted to watch the slugs do themselves in. They put the picked-off slugs in a big pile on the sidewalk, and put a thick ring of salt around them. As the slugs tried to get back to the garden, they had to travel through the salt, and, well, you can guess what happened. I read that Jeffrey Dahmer started out with small animals and worked up to humans, but honestly, I hated the slugs so much, I didn’t care how warped my children might become.
I was sad to learn not too long ago that my second son has no memory of me painting or drawing, but at least he knows I do have some sort of passion outside of the regular drudgery of work, parenting and life. He bought me this cute little garden scooter thing for Mother’s Day a few years back!
I urge you all not to lose yourself in the all-consuming demands you face as working parents of young children, so you can teach them the joy of hobbies and allow them to see another side of you.