LBK. If you don't know what it means, it is "life before kids".
A year or more ago I was watching a Dr. Phil show. It was the common story of a woman who changed her lifestyle after her kids were born to revolve her entire life around her kids. Then as an empty-nester she felt empty, miserable, and even in a dead marriage. The woman admitted to ignoring her husband all those years 'after kids' in order to be 'a good mom'.
I recall thinking I was glad I was not like that mother. Despite the fact that indeed I did stop working for pay at my former career and despite the fact that I do homeschool my kids and despite the fact that I do volunteer work that is about activities my kids do, I am not feeling all consumed by my kid's lives. I am nurturing parts of me that is separate from my kids. My point in sharing that is that some outsiders may look at me and my life and think indeed I have changed my life in a way to be 'all about my kids'. Some acquaintences think I've given up too much to homeschool my kids (all I've given up is a certain amount of money to be honest).
Anyhow, Dr. Phil referenced his older book "Self Matters" in which he said he tells people to get back to the core of who they were in LBK. He asked the mother what her passions were (disconnected from anything having to do with her kids) and she could not answer. He asked her to think back, back, to the time when something was her passion. She finally gave an answer. (I forget what she said, it was a couple of hobbies.) He told her to take up those hobbies again and to get back to her former passions.
At that point I stopped to think about me and my LBK. Since I was aged nine I wanted to be a book author, a writer. I also started taking photographs at age nine. Photography was something I loved doing but had abandoned for a number of years while I focused on having fun, being in love with ex-boyfriends, exercising obsessively, reading books, and working full time.
Anyhow today I spent ten hours (ten hours!) doing gardening tasks. There were several reasons why I spent so much time today doing this. By the way, gardening was one of my passions in my LBK.
Today my schedule was free from appointments so I had the time.
Today it was warm out and not raining.
Today it was early enough that the bees and wasps had not yet set up homes inside the shrubs I was to prune and I wanted to get it done before they were present.
Today I'm late in getting seedlings started indoors and I needed to get the soil mix prepared in order to get those seeds planted and to grow them indoors.
Today the poison ivy is not yet alive and growing over the areas that needed shrub pruning. (I spent two separate months last year suffering from poison ivy allergic reactions.)
Today the wild black raspberries are still dormant, allowing us to take over the area for other purposes.
Last night the landscaper finished weeding and removing the wild blackraspberries so the land was ready.
Today my father was available to help us with our endeavors.
Today my husband was not booked up with appointments.
Put it all together and today and today was just perfect for doing gardening tasks.
It felt great to do something that I loved so much, a passion of mine since LBK. Gardening (vegetable, herb, flower and shrub) including designing my own gardens, is something I loved and something I abandoned in the past due to having to spend more time mothering my young children. Today my boys are aged 8 and 11 and they are old enough now to allow me more time to do my work and hobbies from LBK. They are old enough now to help me in my endeavors too.
I don't need to put off my own personal pursuits until my kids go off to college. I've been both reduding my time doing those things and re-integrating it since they were born.
Yes it is true, due to attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, homeschooling, an not using babysitters or nannies, in the earlier years, I did put off SOME of my hobbies for a number of years. Other times, life cirumstances like moving to a place where there is deer overpopulation impeding gardening, or restrictions on hobbies due to tight finances due to serious issues such as unemployment and underemployment.
As my children get older, I can add them into the mix and meld my children with my hobbies. I don't mean putting them to work to do my tasks but to do the same things alongside my children, or to inspire them to create on their own using my knowledge as an inspiration. Today my eleven year old began designing his first garden train layout complete with a water feature, a little pond. This is something I told him, when he was three years old, that we'd do when he was old enough to do all the garden work himself. I said we'd supply the train and he'd do all the labor. He didn't forget it. (He never forgets anything, he has a photographic memory except for things I want him to know like math facts, if you can explain why that is possible please do). My eight year old helped with both his older brother's water garden/train garden and my pruning job.
There are certain women who will tell you that a woman's only fulfillment in life can come from paid employment. Those women will tell you that marriage or birthing babies will stand in a woman's way of total fulfillment. Others may say it is okay to birth a baby but to do something like breastfeeding the baby (like Hanna Rosin) will put them over the edge to suddenly being shackled to a parenting related activity that will deprive them of their full ability to participate in The Fulfilling Actiivity (working for money).
What I want to share tonight is two things. First, my CHOICE to do attachment parenting did not rob me of anything. I have many wonderful memories and experiences due to attachment parenting. I also feel it is the best thing for my children as people, that it helped them developmentally, to be happier people and to reap the rewards of a child whose meets have truly been met. Despite my choice to pause my career to be a mother-at-home, I was able to get 'adult interaction' even thought I was not employed outside the home for pay, through volunteer work that was fulfilling and enriching to me for a long time.
It is true that my CHOICE to homeschool does impede my abiltity to work at my former career (a 9-5 Monday-Friday job), however homeschooling my kids has enriched my life, in numerous ways from receiving happy emotions from being with my kids and helping them learn and grow to me learning new things that my public school education deprived me of, as well as permitting me to experience total freedom over my time (something that seldom gets discussed in America that I wish more peopel woudl think about--the fact that their jobs shackle their freedoms much like a ball and chain). Lastly I have had many different 'adult interactions' and fulfilling experiences due to various endeavors ranging from volunteer work to blogging to making art to taking photograhs and other things.
My point is that today at some point in the ten hours I spent gardening which was a LBK hobby of mine I realized that I did miss gardening for a number of years but rather than feel at all bitter or mad about 'being robbed of the abiility to do it all those other years' today I was totally happy and fulfilled and "present in the moment" doing my gardening. I really felt happy and joyful over the fact that today I was blending back into who I was in LBK but was doing with alongside my kids or while they happily and safetly tended to themselves while I did "my thing".