You know those forms you fill out. The ones that somewhere invariably ask: “What are your hobbies?” ________________.
I usually stare blankly at that line.
Hobbies. Does keeping three kids alive count as a hobby? Ha! I chuckle to myself, but really it’s to hide the sadness creeping up into my throat.
So… I start to write basketball. The sport I love. Wait… loved. When was the last time I actually played basketball? College intramurals.
Yeah… I don’t think something I did consistently over a decade ago counts as a current hobby. Erase.
Then I write again… Being outside!
Yes! I love being outside. But I guess just being outside isn’t really a hobby. For instance, what do I like to do outside? Help kids set up the slip-n-slide? Mow the lawn?
Those are chores. And not a hobby. Erase.
Realizing I Don’t Have Hobbies
By this point I can feel that dark hole opening up in my chest and a knot in my throat.
“How sad am I? I don’t even have a freakin’ hobby!” I scream in my head. In other words, I come to the realization that I haven’t done anything for myself for nine years.
I blink away tears welling up as I see the receptionist look at me, waiting for my clipboard.
Finally, I quickly scribble reading. An acceptable enough answer. And I have read a book recently. Even though it was a parenting book.
One of My Biggest Regrets
That blank line after the hobby question represents one of my biggest regrets over the last nine years as a mom of littles.
I never took time to do something just for me. I leaned on hobbies from my past. And pretended 15-minute showers by myself was enough self-care. I put all my me-time eggs in the one-weekend-a-year basket of a vacation with my girlfriends.
Moms…. THESE ARE NOT HOBBIES!
Here is the actual definition of a hobby: A pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.
Chores Are Not Hobbies
So no, it can’t be reading a parenting book, or being outside to do chores. Those aren’t relaxing. Those are work.
A hobby by definition is doing something that is just for YOU for the sole reason being that you enjoy doing it.
And even more importantly in that definition, the word pursuit.
Sure, we can take a quick trip to Target by ourselves and enjoy it. Sure we can have that oh-so-special girls trip each Spring. But that isn’t a pursuit. That is a one-off.
A hobby is a pursuit. Something that you intentionally seek to do often because you love doing it. You actively make the time for it.
I didn’t do that those first nine years of having kids. Instead, I let myself feel guilty for being away from my babies. And I made excuses about not having enough time. Overall, I played the motherhood martyr, reveling in the overwhelm, and hoping others could see me suffering and feel sorry for me.
And that left me in a waiting room looking down at that blank line and wanting to cry.
Feeling that I had let myself completely slip away.
Who am I now?
What do I even like?
I don’t even know anymore.
I look back on those last nine years with a bit of sadness for myself. Wishing I would have realized what I finally do now.
You see, this year, I got a hobby. A few actually. Like… real hobbies.
I had always wanted to go back to throwing pottery like I did years ago. So I let go of the guilt of taking two hours in the evening each week just for me, and enjoyed every second of that time re-engaging in something that I love.
And you know what?
My kids survived. Gasp! My incredibly capable husband didn’t flinch with me gone. The world kept on going as normal AND I was able to recharge, refresh, and enjoy myself.
I also started to learn yoga. I stopped making excuses of being too busy, let down the martyr flag I was flying, and just started going. Every morning. And found a new love.
Hobbies = Happiness
Turns out, hobbies help create happiness.
And you guys… I am SO happy.
Yes, I was always “happy.” But now I am enjoying life and enjoying myself in a way I hadn’t for a long time. Because I am living my life not just for others, but for myself as well.
I am pursuing something outside my regular occupation for the purpose of joy and relaxation. I am truly embracing the definition of hobby.
And now I can confidently fill in that blank line on all those random forms with a light, happy heart.