Motherhood & Remaining Passionate: Why It Is Not Selfish to Keep Your Hobbies as A Mom

Why It Is Not Selfish to Keep Your Hobbies as A Mom | Writing Between Pauses

It is often said that women lose themselves in motherhood. 

After we give birth, we start "getting our bodies back" (whatever that means). We become "dairy cows" (if you're lucky enough to breastfeed). We have a small life depending on us, so it's easy to feel like our identity becomes flattened into one idea. Many of us spend weeks, or if you're lucky, months, away from work; and some will end up quitting their jobs because it becomes more cost effective. It's more difficult to make plans with friends, especially in those early months, and we find ourselves watching more TV or listening to more podcasts to keep our minds occupied. 

Here's a quote from Mia Redrick in her piece, How Women Lose Themselves in Motherhood

I call this the “Silent War,” the process of slowly fading away from yourself, your interests and your passions without even realizing that it is happening.

At some point, all mothers face this crossroad in parenting. We come up for air and realize that we can’t answer even the most basic questions like: When is the last time you read a book and finished it? What is your favorite place to shop for clothing? What are your hobbies? When is the last time you had fun doing something that you love?

It's good to know I'm not the only one who had one of these moments. 

Before I had Forrest, I ran, I worked out, I wrote constantly, I kept meticulous journals, and I read voraciously. In the long, hard months after I had Forrest, I didn't do any of those things. I read a few books in the first year of his life--maybe 6 or 7 total--and I wrote some blog posts that I only recently went back and deleted. Mostly, I pumped. I fed him. I read about formula online. I chatted with fellow moms. And I watched a lot of TV. It took me a good two years before I started feeling like it was ok to let myself indulge in the hobbies that seemed, well, kind of frivolous. 

I've often seen the argument, not necessarily from outsiders, but from mothers themselves, that they feel selfish when they take time for themselves. I don't necessarily have this feeling, but I do struggle to plan in time alone during the week. I do a lot of work throughout the week--my day job, plus running this blog and doing freelance work--and that tends to take up the time that I would otherwise spend indulging in my hobbies. 

Yet, it can still feel very selfish. When Forrest is playing or watching TV, I start to feel a little bad that I'm sitting at the kitchen table with my headphones in, listening to a podcast. Or, when he's napping, I start to work on the short story idea I've been outlining and re-outlining in a notebook for weeks--then I realize I have laundry to do, or lunches to prep, or the living room to vacuum. I feel caught in the web of having to do things that are "productive"--or that are beneficial to the entire family, not just myself. 

You know how on airplanes, in the safety guidelines, they always say to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others? That's motherhood, at the end of the day. You have to give yourself time to be a whole person before you can effectively help anyone else become a whole person. 

It's difficult to find the balance, however. It's easy to go all or nothing in our lives. But finding a balance that works for you and your family will help you be a better mother in the long run. I know it has made me a better mother to have an hour to myself in the evening, to write, read, exercise, or sit on the couch watching the ID channel. Learning how to schedule in time for yourself is a hugely personal task; there is no right way to do it, and no single method that works for every family and situation, especially if you have a child with a disability or illness. 

I always tell people that there is more to my identity than being a mother. Yes, being Forrest's mom is the biggest part of who I am--it's definitely the most important, in a lot of ways--but it's not the only thing about me. I also love learning about makeup. I love watching trashy reality TV. I love true crime. I love German music. I love writing, about anything and everything.

If you let motherhood consume your entire identity, you're doing not just yourself a disservice, but your child a disservice. This isn't to say that your hobbies should come first (that's absolutely not the case); but it is to say that as a mother, you matter too and it's ok to take time for yourself. 

The Truth About Losing a Passion

"I used to be really into photography," I say. I'm talking to a relatively new coworker and, even though the conversation continues without a hitch, I find myself drifting back to this. I say it a lot; I used to be really into fashion; I used to run a fashion blog; I used to be very into makeup; i used to be, I used to be, I used to be. 

It's been 7 months since I really had time for hobbies. I haven't been to the gym, gone running, scrapbooked, or written in my journal in 7 months. I just have more important things to do. Make up is a necessity now (and I praise whoever invented concealer, the beauty blender, and contour palettes) and so is clothing (one that I hate with a passion). I take pictures of Forrest and that's about it.

It's not that I don't enjoy these things anymore; I just don't feel passionate about them like I used to. I can still peruse the make up aisles forever, but I know I won't be posting reviews or anything else. I still use my camera, but it's less about getting better at photography and more about just taking some quick photos.  

There are no more pictures of stealing cups of coffee for me, or journals beautifully laid out on my desk. I drink my coffee cold more mornings and my journal sits on my desk expectantly. Right now, I'm wearing Forrest in the Ergo while I write this and I have about 20 minutes to write before it's time to play and roll and read books (all of which are super fun, admittedly). 

I miss being passionate about things, though.  

There is part of me that realizes I'm never going to be super into photography or make up or anything ever again. I'll probably find new hobbies, I'm sure, but I've moved on from the old me. I'll probably never run a fashion blog again. And that's ok, I don't need to. 

Sometimes, I feel embarrassed about how different I am from the person I used to be: I used to be thin and put together; I had hobbies and passions; my house was relatively clean and nice. But I have to remind myself that people change--I've changed. I'm just not the person I used to be anymore, and that's ok. I have other things to do now, things that are just as fulfilling and fun as photography, fashion, and make up ever were. 

Creative Writing & Finding a Path

I used to think I needed to be very good at everything -- and yet, only dedicate myself to one thing. 

I really thought I was most valuable if I dedicated myself whole-heartedly to one passion. If I could make that work, I would be happy, I was sure. 

By the time I was halfway through college, however, I realized there was no way I could dedicate myself to one thing for the rest of my life. It just wasn't possible. 

I want to say something braggy here, such as, I was just good at too many things, but that isn't true. The fact is: I'm flighty. I get obsessed very easily -- and fall out of obsessions very easily too. I'm a trivia based person. I can remember random facts better than I can remember anything else. 

I would get frustrated with myself when I couldn't focus on something wholeheartedly. I would get frustrated when I just started to get good at something and lose interest. 

It took me a long time to realize that the reason I enjoyed writing so much was because it allowed me to be interested in everything.


I could learn about history, nail art, music history, and the life cycle of stars all in one day -- and informed my writing more than anything else. You can't write without research. And research is, honestly, what I love the most because I love immersing myself in a variety of topics for a short amount of time. 

Finding my path took a long time. I felt like I could never fully indulge in my hobbies -- like fashion or nails or fandom -- because I was too busy trying to be serious about one thing.

I love being a writer because in one day, I can research anything that sparks my interest. I don't have to feel like I'm only able to learn about certain things or be passionate certain things.