Ever since I became a mum 9 years ago, everything that I used to indulge in, hobbies, TV, even books took a back seat. My priorities change. My own life is less important than my children’s lives. I seem to have many things that I want to do that are not fulfilled at the moment. I wonder how life will be if I am able to pursue these unfulfilled wishes under a wholly different situation. A situation of delayed parenthood. A situation of pursuing my wish lists at the expense of lesser time with the kids. Will I then be happier than I am right now?
Everything for myself seems to be able to wait. Ever since I failed my piano ABRSM Grade 8 during my Uni days, I have been wanting to retake it to make it a complete learning or more towards fulfilling a childhood dream. I never got to retake my lessons and the exams as the years after I graduated were the busy years of starting work, courtship, marriage and babies till present. I thought to myself: My piano Grade 8 retake exams can wait.
I had always wanted to do volunteering as helping the less fortunate ones seem to be a society’s calling to me. I know I will derive lots of satisfaction from helping others and there are so many people who need help. But my time now is barely sufficient to be equally distributed to my 3 young ones + my hubby + myself, where can I find time to give to others? Volunteering can wait.
On normal “indulgence” like watching movies and TV shows, I can hardly bear to spend 1-2 hours on them which I otherwise could have spent on playing with the kids. Or if the kids are watching TV, I will work on my kids’ study plan, mark their assessment books, steal a 15 minutes to read newspaper, clear my letterbox mails, make some snacks, pack the kids’ organizer drawers or take a short nap, anything but the time waster TV. Anyway, with many internet sources for old TV dramas and movies, I can watch them anytime in the far future. TV dramas and movies can wait.
When I see yummy mummies with well done up nails and nice hairdo, I envy the time they have on their hands to maintain their looks and look pretty. When the day my kids are grown up, I will have plenty of time to do the same. That is, if wrinkles and all do not catch up as quickly. Pretty me can wait.
So, the list goes on,…. Travelling the world with hubby can wait. Reading on that dusty old shelved away book can wait. Even toilet breaks can wait.
And the wait goes on too… come 2nd child and 3rd child, and it seems that the wait is going to be prolonged for a few more years. I thought about the priorities of life and decided that it is children for now. The kids need me and I should be spending every second of my waking moments with them or maybe… not every second? But I enjoy being with them so much that I do not know what to do if they are not by my side. Call it over-obsession. And I do know that very soon, my kids will grow up and soon they will leave the nest and I will have more than enough time on my hands to know what to do with it. Then, will that be 12 years from now or 20 years? Will I still be needing pretty nails? Will my fingers be too stiff and old to play allegro pieces? Will I still be fit enough to travel? One thing I know I will surely be able to do: watch the K-pop stars on the old dramas played 20 years back. Now, think of black and white TV dramas.
If a new mum-to-be reads this, she will probably stop at one. Many of my friends around me are like this (not the stop at one part). But, they stop going out with friends the moment the baby is out. Before you think that I am such an anti-social mum, I am NOT. Most of the girls shopping dates and girls night out dates are initiated by me. I used to date my best friend quarterly, then it became half-yearly and recently down to annually. My best friend is busy with work and children. I am the one with lots of time on my hands.
I am usually the one to date my hubby too. Not that he can’t be bothered to date me, but his schedule is more flexible and he always have time for me. I will take leave from work occasionally and pamper myself for a day with massage, facial, shopping, indulge myself over an expensive Malibu Dream from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and have a good lunch or dinner with my hubby.
I take leave to catch up with my mum and have a really sweet mum and daughter date. We chat about everything under the sun and ever since I left my parents’ nest, my mum has been my trusted and best person for advice in marriage and motherhood. She seems to have endless advice for me.
I take leave to go out with my best friend too for shopping and woes-pouring sessions. I make arrangement with kel to look after the kids while I catch up over dinner with other girl friends. These dates, to me, recharge me and make me feel that life is not all work and children. I need to connect with my hubby away from the kids, enjoy my mum’s company over high tea, exchange tips and ideas on parenting while catching up each other’s life with my girlfriends. I seriously think I do have a healthy social life.
However, for those that need my commitment and precious time after I get home from work, like watching TV or reading, I feel guilty. I do not even know how to read a book in front of my kids! And how does one read in peace when the kids are coming to you to ask for permission to open the cookie jar, coming to you to complain about big sis refusing to share, and coming to you again that the baby is pooing? I simply cannot read without being interrupted a dozen times in 5 minutes. Please teach me how if you know.
Volunteering and retaking my piano exams are big commitment that take away precious time from the kiddos. Perhaps when they are older, they can be involved in volunteering work together with me. The piano, for now, shall solely serve the kids’ practice sessions. I wonder if the interest of music will be hyped up in my kids if they were to see me practise hard for the Grade 8 exams 2 hours every night? I certainly have no free slot in the evening to practise uninterrupted for 2 hours. There are so many things to do for that precious 2 hours after dinner!
If you are a mum, I urge you to go out with friends, pamper yourself and make arrangement to do what you want to do. For the long term commitment, I know I will have to let them wait. But for the short term ones like reading a book and those that cannot wait like exercising to maintain good health, I incorporate them into my daily routine. I read a book during my commuting to and from my workplace. I jog thrice weekly after waving my girl off on the school bus every morning at 630am. I now watch TV together with the kids when I force myself to stop the house chores and the 101 unimportant things competing for my attention. I manage to squeeze time for my only hobby right now: BLOGGING after the kids go to bed. I sacrifice some sleep on half the week nights penning down my thoughts and sharing on my blog. These are the moments that I find my balance and unwind on a work day.
Come the day when the kids no longer need so much of my attention, I want to look back at my young motherhood days with no regrets of not doing this or that. I have read somewhere that sacrificing too much for the kids may end up resenting the kids in denying you of things you should have done. I do not think I will ever blame my kids if I never retake my exams in the end. After all, it’s the everyday balance of motherhood and being me that give me the sanity, balance and a happy life.
What are the things that you sacrifice after parenthood takes over? Are you striking a balance between parenthood and your own life?