When I was young, I had an obsession. I was completely and utterly obsessed with karate. My afternoons were filled with practices, and when I wasn’t at my dojo practicing, I was at home practicing. Even at school when I should have been paying attention to my teachers, I was in my head visualizing and practicing small kicks under my desk.
Karate was my passion and I put it into every part of my life.
I continued practicing through college and even up until I was nine months pregnant with my first child. As soon as that beautiful little girl was born, my passion for the sport I loved was replaced by a tiny, 6-pound 11-ounce miracle who was completely dependent on me for her survival. My daughter was my new passion and I put even more of my heart and soul into her than I could have ever imagined.
When my mini-me turned 4, I decided to enroll her into the same karate school I had spent my childhood and young adult life at. She instantly took to the art and I watched her practice with determination and grow her focus and discipline. Eagerly I watched from the chairs and nodded my head at her when she uncertainly did a move correctly or showed her the move from my seat when she was stuck. Soon I made my way out onto the floor to help hold pads for her class and lead them through their forms when the lead instructor was busy with a large group. I felt elated to be back on the floor, even if it was just helping out. Before long, I couldn’t take it any longer and dug my uniform out of the basement where it had sat for four years.
Getting back into karate was difficult at first; there were many times I had to shake the dust off and my body didn’t quite move like it had before I’d carried two children. After a few weeks of being back to practice, I began to feel confident again and soon led a few classes. My passion had been reignited and I felt a piece of my identity return to me that wasn’t solely being a mother. I loved being a mother, and I willingly sacrificed my body, time, sleep and own passions for my children like every mother does for her babies. I didn’t realize how much of myself I had lost or that had been replaced by motherhood. My passions and interests took the backseat and a part of me was lost, buried underneath wiping sticky faces, changing diapers, reading storybooks and playing peek-a-boo.
I used to think that sacrificing everything for your children is just what every mother is supposed to do.
Taking time for myself was selfish when those beautiful creatures looked so lovingly at me and cried when I left them. The guilt of me-time was overwhelming and my passions should always come second to theirs. Then I realized, what kind of example am I setting for my children if I had no interests or hobbies of my own? Giving up my passions wasn’t helping my children and it certainly wasn’t helping me. After a few weeks back at karate, I felt rejuvenated and less burnt out. I snapped less at my children and felt a little more of the person I used to be. The realization that it is important for me to model a hobby, sport or art for my children so that they would learn that being a parent doesn’t mean you stop taking care of yourself, or that learning and self-improvement stop after school.
Did you have a passion before your children were born? Was it painting, reading, rock climbing, sketching, baking or running? If you no longer have those interests or have found yourself stretched thin by motherhood, I encourage you to find a passion again. We’re not meant to give up our own passions when our children are born; we are still meant to pursue our dreams and let our creativity and passions flourish. It sets a wonderful example to our children and gives them something to be proud of their mothers and fathers. Don’t stop learning, practicing, tinkering, creating and exploring. Push yourself and don’t lose your identity in motherhood.
We are mothers and that absolutely defines us in part, but it is not our sole identity.