The first time I walked into a MOPS group, I was eight months pregnant with my first child.
As an icebreaker, we drew a handful of m&ms and then shared information about ourselves based on the colors in our pile. If you drew a yellow m&m, you said where you grew up. A green m&m was for your favorite place to go on a date. A blue m&m was for hobbies.
Literally every other mom at my table declared her children were her hobby. I could not fathom this.
I was excited to become a mother, but surely hobbies were things like…crocheting. And reading. And pilates. Humans are their own thing. People aren’t hobbies.
When it was my turn, I said my hobbies were cooking and reading, and I got a lot of knowing glances from the more experienced moms. Just you wait, they seemed to say. And it was true: I had no concept yet of how my life was about to change.
My own mom tried to warn me. She told me that when my little brother came along, she accepted that she would not have personal time anymore. Her life had become about taking care of two kids, and little room was left for self-care or hobbies.
I knew right away this was a cautionary tale, that I could never survive without time to myself. More than I ever wanted to fit in or to be invited, I’ve longed for wide-open spaces when I don’t have to be anywhere or do what someone else wants. I crave quality alone time most of all—miles and miles of it.
I heard what my mom said, and distantly I comprehended I would have to make sacrifices when I became a mother. But I figured it would be different for me. After all, my mom worked a demanding full-time job. Of course, it was hard for her to dig into her own projects or sit down and relax—her whole day was already spoken for. My story would not be hers. I was staying home with my kids.
(A decision which, I’m amused to admit now, I thought of as “the easy way out.”)