A new friend I just started spending some time with was asking me what my hobbies are/were and wanted to know who I was before kids. Now, although a huge part of my identity, and certainly time, is consumed and shaped by having kids and being a Mom, I think I was someone before all that too. Right now, it is a little hard to remember. My hours seem to be quickly filled with cooking, cleaning, washing and folding laundry, picking up toys and picking them up again. Basically, repeat. I try to find "beauty" in the ordinary and the everyday and look for ways to enjoy even the "chores" and responsibilities that I have. I try to spend time sitting with my kids being silly, playing with them, teaching them and loving them but there are always the other things of life to do too.
So, back to the original question. You know how once you do something or have something, it is hard to imagine life without it? That is certainly true for me when it comes to using buttermilk or fresh lemons to bake, and that is most definitely how it is when it comes to having kids. I know I was someone before, that I felt busy and had many things to occupy my time but now it is easy to forget and I wonder why I wasn't more productive, purposeful or useful with all my "free" time before kids. Then I think of other moms who have 4 and 6 kids and I honestly don't know how they do it! Sure, you can get a lot done when kids are at school or sleeping but a lot of times we have to go to work too and sometimes we need to sleep also.
I guess I always liked to bake but now that I find myself in for the evening most nights by 8:30 I like to do some late night baking. I have always loved to take pictures but my subject matter and my mediums have changed. I started with film and then digital, blogging, camera phone and now Instagram. I started with still life and friends, scenery and travel and architecture and I moved to my dogs and nature and now mostly my kids. I have always liked to try cooking and doing new things in the kitchen but I am less intimidated now, my spices cabinet is more diversified and I try to find beauty in the task of cooking each and every day while still trying to nourish my family with good food. I have always loved nature and the outdoors which was fostered in me at a young age. I grew up on 18 acres with plenty of room to roam, explore, climb trees, hang out and garden with my Dad, play in a sandbox or roam through the meadow or play in our creek or playhouse nestled in the trees. We spent summer vacations backpacking and camping and spending long days outside. Now I spend time raking rainbow colored leaves from my front yard, taking my dogs on walks in the woods and sitting in the sunshine with my kids while they play in the yard giggling and playing on blankets and swings. I always liked crafty things although I've never been too artistic in terms of drawing, molding, painting, etc. It began years ago with my wedding album and Valentine making parties with dear friends over wine and now I decorate baby books and travel albums. I have always loved to travel and see new things. This was taught to me at a young age. I even got to travel to Africa as a young girl and lived in Spain for a few months with my husband. Now I travel the 1-5 corridor to visit my family from Portland down to So. Oregon. Now I travel the downtown city blocks several times a week walking my kids to school while I go to work. We try to take our kids to new places and help them experience and navigate the world around them as much as we can and we long to take them on bigger adventures as they grow bigger and older and their curiosity grows. I've loved music my whole life and played different instruments growing up. Now my piano sadly gathers too much dust as I compete to play it with my spirited toddler and my radio often blares kids music and silly songs about pickles and pretzels. But I also get to share music with my kids and have after dinner dance parties with babies on my hip and hands enclosed in mine while we twirl and boogie and shake.
So, who was I before. I was a lot of things, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an employee and adventurer, a nature lover, a dog lover, a photographer, a baker, etc. Now I am all these but I balance them (or try to) with the other daily responsibilities and joys that are my life as a wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee, adventurer, creator, nature lover, baker, dog lover, and MOM. As far as I am concerned, it makes me a richer person and makes me feel all the things that I am just a little bit deeper. Being a Mom has allowed me to feel and experience the things in my life on a whole new level. I am challenged daily to my core. The core of who I am, how much patience I have, what I believe, what I think I know and what I question. I am pushed to my line often and sometimes fall over. I fail and I pick myself up. I dream and cry and love and want and desire and hope and yearn and hate and embrace all that I'm living.
So, who was I before. Honestly, I can't remember. I am who I am now. That's enough for me. I'm being redeemed by my Maker daily and I am held in his love and mercy. I don't cling to the past to return to it or reclaim it. I rejoice in who I have been allowed to be and I hope for who I'll become. And with grace and mercy and a little luck, I think it will be just a little bit better then I am today.