Written by 50 Things Alumna, Sonia Even
When I became a mom, I threw myself into the business of mothering with 100% of my being. Working from home seemed like the perfect scenario. I really could have it all! My career could continue, and I could be a mom 100% of the time.
Fast-forward to 18 months later. My perfect work-from-home mom dreams were buried under piles of laundry and unwashed dishes. I put off “non-essential” things like conversations with my husband, showers, and connection with the outside world so I could get work done and be the most hands-on mom I could be.
And (I can admit it now), I was miserable. With no time for self-care, my anxiety was out-of-control. But most of all, I was just lonely. As much as I loved being there for all of my daughter’s big milestones, a baby (even one as cute as mine) is not great company.
I knew something had to change. I knew I had to start putting myself first if I wanted to avoid burning out completely. But, as a mother, society had conditioned me to believe that anything short of martyrdom was selfish. I had no idea how to change things without becoming mired in guilt.
50 Fun Things came into my life right when I needed it most. It started as a fun exercise, with me cautiously envisioning the things I really wanted to do and putting them down on paper. But then, themes started to emerge…
I knew I needed to get back into music. While I had continued to be involved with my band, Lovely Dark, it felt like yet another obligation, and I was constantly on the verge of quitting. However, as my list started to take shape, I saw how many of my experiences (for instance, “play a great show” and “write a song I’m proud of”) revolved around making music. The joy of singing and writing songs rushed back to me as I wrote, and I knew I had to make more space for music in my life.
I realized how much I missed my friends. As I started adding things like, “spend a whole day with my best friend,” “go camping with friends,” and “reconnect with an old friend,” I realized that these experiences were totally within reach. So what if I had to ask my husband to cover bedtime duty? Or (heaven forbid!) pay a babysitter?
I started to dream about simple things I missed (yoga, sushi dates with my husband, walks by myself, meditating) and the career in acupuncture I’d put on hold. Suddenly, I started to realize that even the big things were really just a series of small steps; if I started now, I could make things happen in the long run.
50 Fun Things helped me not only rediscover my passion for music, it helped me see life as being full of opportunities rather than roadblocks. Rather than staring at the insurmountable mountain, it helped me notice the path. Most importantly, it helped me realize that happiness is not something that just happens to you. It’s something you actively have to make for yourself, by choosing to fill your life with fun and meaningful experiences. And that is a lesson I hope to pass down to my daughter.
Sonia Even heads Minneapolis folk-rock band Lovely Dark with her husband, Travis Even. She is also an acupuncturist, herbalist, and music blogger, in addition to being the Content Manager for Win/Win Connects and Women in Networking.