All of my adult life I have said this saying, “I can paint a picture with my words, but I can’t paint a picture.” Well, today I proved myself wrong.
After 6 months of being a stay at home mom, I have found myself getting into really bad ruts. I would lose my sense of purpose and motivation to keep going. When I was a teacher, I felt like I was making a difference. Sure, it wasn’t always enough motivation to want me to get out of bed at 5am but it was on some days. My husband kept encouraging me to go back to work. See, the problem with that is that I gave up my career for the greater good of my children. If I were to give up and go back to work, they would most likely have to go back to aftercare and long hours in daycare. So, even though I was becoming miserable, I stuck with it.
I realized that I had to reinvent myself so to speak. I was no longer a teacher. I was lacking part of my identity in a way. For 10 years, I identified myself as a mother and a teacher. Now I am just a mother. I say just a mother like it is a meaningless, trivial title, but truth be told, it is the hardest and yet most rewarding job any woman can have. Even with all of that, I was still losing myself and my purpose. Who am I if I am not a teacher anymore? Am I nothing more than someone else’s mother? I had to find more for my life.
After rekindling a friendship from a college friend, I started to look at my life a little differently. I would share my writing with him and he would share his drawings with me. Yet again, I would use my saying about how I could not paint. Like an anvil, it hit me one day. How do I know that I can’t paint? I haven’t tried in over a decade. Many people pick up new hobbies later in life.
So, I decided that my life needed more than chauffering my kids and doing laundry. I bought a few minimal art supplies at Walmart. In Huron, South Dakota, you are very limited in where you can shop. I watched a youtube video on how to paint a rainbow tree and set out to see if I could indeed paint. Of course, being a stay at home mom, I had two little girls at home with me each day. I bought them their own washable paint to ensure that I would be able to paint relatively without distractions.
Did the painting turn out perfectly? No. But that wasn’t the point. I didn’t expect it to be perfect. In fact, I expected it to be a total disaster. To my surprise, it did indeed look like a rainbow tree blowing in the wind. It was recognizable. I felt so proud of myself. Proud enough to post it on social media, and not even as a sarcastic “Look what I can do.”
Did finding a new hobby solve all of my problems? No. But it did give me a sense of purpose and motivation for a little while. It put me in a better mood and helped me to respond instead of reacting to my children. I was smiling more and some of that heavy pressure was lifted from my body.
My job is a difficult one. It has no breaks, no time off, and I don’t even get paid. Add on top of that, that my husband works really long hours and sometimes even on the weekends. I was beginning to lose my mind with all of the responsibilities of motherhood and domesticity pressing down on me. It is amazing how adding one little hobby has helped lift so many of those feelings off of me. I know that there will be days when I don’t feel like painting or it will just lose its magic. That is when I will have to look for something else to give me a sense of purpose and motivation.
Being a mother should not feel like it is a life sentence. We mothers should have the ability to do things that make us feel good too. It shouldn’t just be all about the tiny humans we brought into this world. If something as simple as painting or writing makes you feel good, I say do it. So, to all the struggling stay at home moms out there, find what makes you feel good and do it. You will be a better mom in the end and your kids may not say it, but they’ll be happy you chose to do something just for you.