Parents, Find a Passion
Both stay at home moms and stay at home dads have issues with feeling productive. On paper it’s easy to see that we are quite useful; the science of childcare, when done properly, is no easy task. But, inwardly we can feel isolated and unproductive. I know I’m doing a good job and that the work isn’t easy. Still, I have not mastered a skill that is popularly considered valuable (let’s not kid ourselves about what other people think of us). Of course, the laugh will be on everyone else when their kids turn into delinquents, but that’s not the point. The point is that because we can get lost in parenting we sometimes miss the opportunities right under our noses. I’m talking about taking up a hobby or a long lost dream. If you’re anything like me, and I think lots of people are, then you are a jack of all trades and a master of none. When it comes down to it we full-time parents don’t have much extra time, but we do have a little. Instead of sitting around pining over what could have been why not spend that extra time during the day with dedicated movement towards mastery at whatever we’ve always dreamed of doing?
Writing: I started this blog 6 months ago so that I could practice my writing, which I happen to have something of an aptitude for. I realize it will take a lot of time to truly master the art, but I have time.
Music: A good friend of mine took up the harp on her 50th birthday. She’s practiced several hours a day for the last 15 years and is now playing concerts. A harpist had been hired for her 50th birthday party and she decided right there on the spot that she was going to do it. And she did.
Crafts: I’m terrible at crafts. I can’t work with wood, metal, build anything useful or fix anything that needs fixing. Nevertheless, if I wanted to learn then I could. I would just need perhaps get some wood and a few tools and practice every day.
Academics: One of my Uncles has taken it upon himself, after a career as a police officer, to return to academia. He’s 60 years old and he’s on his 4th master’s degree with no signs of stopping anytime soon. Have you always wanted to get better at math? All you need is a text book and an hour a day. A few years down the road and you’ll be amazed at what you can do.
Sports: The oldest man to ever break a 4 minute mile was 40 years old, and he wasn’t exactly a novice when he started. But, there was an American archer in this last Olympics who was 52 and advanced to the second round of competition. There is also a 67 year old Japanese equestrian rider who competed in the same Olympics. Even if you can’t reach mastery, sports can be hugely rewarding — even if only for fitness.
I’ve chosen to take up writing to keep my mind stimulated. Everybody is different and people have unique interests. The point is not to choose just anything to fill the time; rather it is to elect something that you’ve always dreamed of and to make it a reality. I am confident that I’m a good parent; but, because of my desire to have my own accomplishments outside of parenting, I need to stimulate other areas of life. There is no shame in taking time for yourself to accomplish a dream; it’s necessary to remain sane in this job. I don’t expect folks without kids or parents who aren’t at home all day to understand, but it’s enough that it’s factually true.