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Resurrecting Old Hobbies Part 2

April 16, 2023

Back in 2019, I wrote about a resurgence of old hobbies and how I was getting back into them after a long hiatus. Then the pandemic hit, throwing a curveball at what initially seemed like a strong and steady comeback. I resolved to keep at the passions I had worked so hard to revitalize, but it was hard. For several months, I stopped playing tennis due to fear of getting COVID on the court. (Yes, it may sound slightly absurd now, but remember that this was during the paranoia of early pandemic times when no one was sure how the virus was spread and I was diligently wiping every grocery item and take out container I brought home with Clorox wipes.) With my monotonous daily work from home routine, there wasn’t much to blog about. The one thing I did continue and which I’m proud of myself for doing so, was piano. In late 2019, I had joined a piano Meetup and had just begun to participate in a few of their events. Once the pandemic started, the Meetup organized a series of virtual events where members could perform over Zoom. There were weekly volunteer events at nursing homes where we were each paired with a resident and performed and chatted with them for half an hour. We even had a few international Zoom recitals with piano Meetup groups from England and Canada! In those times of uncertainty, this was one thing that continued to inspire me and gave me a reason to get off the couch.

Then one day, I started feeling sick, like really queasy. For the next week or so, I could barely eat anything. It wasn’t long before I found out that I was pregnant. Suddenly, my priorities and focus shifted and my hobbies had to take the back burner once again. Even more, I was so sick that the next three months were spent mostly lying on the couch (as if I hadn’t already spent enough time on the couch during the pandemic) drinking Pelligrino and sucking on orange wedges. Tennis was completely out of question, I had no inspiration for writing, and very little energy to sit at the piano. I played piano maybe about three times during the course of that first trimester.

Around Christmas time, I suddenly had an idea to make holiday cards for our friends and family. In a burst of inspiration, I ordered a cheap watercolor set and some blank cards from Amazon and started doing these simple watercolor and ink designs. Despite still feeling terrible, I had fun making the cards, procuring people’s addresses and sending them out to everyone. I received so many oohs and ahhs, it made me feel better momentarily.

As the New Year came and went, I finally started to feel better. At first, I was relieved and grateful that I could eat and sleep and do normal things again. However, once that feeling had passed and I once again settled back into my daily routine of work, eat, sleep, Netflix, repeat, that familiar boredom surfaced again. One night, I sat blankly at my desk wondering what to do. Suddenly I remembered my watercolor set. A burst of inspiration came again, and I found myself scrolling through Pinterest, looking for something to paint. I decided on a pretty blue bird perched on a colorful tree branch, and from that point on, painting became my new hobby during the remainder of my pregnancy. It was fun, rewarding, and relaxing and helped me forget, even if temporarily, about the stress of becoming a parent and the daunting labor that was soon to come. I loved how whimsical watercolor was and how you could never fully predict how the colors would bleed into each other. I painted right up until the week before my labor.

After my baby girl was born, she became the center of our lives. I became a Mom first and foremost, and the me as I had known quietly slipped into the background. During those first few months as I struggled to keep her fed, healthy and happy, while battling sleepless nights, hobbies were the last thing on my mind. Even as things gradually began to calm down and I started to get the hang of being a parent, I still didn’t dedicate much time to my hobbies. In fact, even if I did have the occasional spare moment, it almost seemed selfish to be devoting my time and energy to something other than the baby.

Now my daughter is a toddler, starting to talk and have her own opinions, and becoming much more perceptive of the world around her. Although every week is different and we seem to flip back and forth between utter chaos and the golden age, I would say my life has stabilized and I’m comfortable playing the role of Mom. Lately, I’ve started to miss the other side of myself, the pre-baby, pre-pregnancy self that was patiently waiting in the shadows, overlooked for quite sometime but not forgotten. I’ve realized that for me, my hobbies play a big role in defining who I am, and ignoring them for so long has left a void. Perhaps it was time to revitalize this part of me again and work my hobbies back into my life. My husband had gotten me this gigantic art supply set for my birthday, and one day I set up the easel and began to paint again. Soon I was painting regularly and even branched out from watercolor to try my hand at acrylic painting. It brought me the same joy and relaxation as it had during my pregnancy. But I wanted to do even more. My mind kept going back to the one hobby that had helped me through a large part of the pandemic.

This afternoon, while my daughter was napping, I decided to practice piano for the first time in over a year, on my digital Yamaha with the headphones plugged in. A few minutes in, she woke up crying and I thought the clacking of the keys might have woken her up. For a brief moment, I thought, this is it, I can never practice piano again because I can’t do it while she’s sleeping and certainly not when she’s awake. But after I ran over to calm her down and she went back to sleep, I started up again. This time, she did not wake up and I played for a good full hour. I felt accomplished and pumped, like I had just forged a new path in the woods.

I know it won’t be easy to balance hobbies with work and taking care of an active 2-year-old, but today was a great start. I will take baby steps to slowly ease my way back and strike the optimal balance between my new role as Mom and the old parts of me.