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Hobbies? Ha! What hobbies?

From age 9-16 I was a competitive swimmer for a small summer swim team in Jasper National Park ; the Jasper Red Fins. We were small but mighty and we called ourselves “RED HOT!” WE were very proud. I didn’t actually learn to swim until age 9 but my parents focused on it so much that within months, I had completed all the levels and joined the swim team. Swimming became my life. I wasn’t the fastest swimmer but my technique was good and I loved it! I enjoyed early morning practices and I would even go to the pool to “swim laps” on my own regularly. Our pool had a Kilometer Club and where the goal was to swim 100km in the specified time frame and we got prizes at different milestones.  When I say swimming was my life, I’m not exaggerating! 

After age 16, I started coaching the swim team. First I was an assistant coach then a year or so later, I was the head coach. The team was mine! I was a “take no crap” kind of coach. I was a 6am practice kind of coach. I was a “no junk food or unhealthy food the week before a competition” kind of coach. Like I said, swimming was my life.  I did this until about age 21 when I stopped spending the summers in Jasper.

I stopped going back to Jasper, because I wanted to make my own way in “the city” (Edmonton) I had been spending the academic year there since age 18 attending the University of Alberta but I needed more than what my small hometown had to offer me.  In University I joined a recreational swim team to feed the swimmer in me. It was great but life started getting in the way. Assignments and exams meant missing a practice here or there. Then summer vacation came and I worked. After that I just never went back. I honestly can’t remember how or why I ended up stopping swimming.  Over the next 4 years or so, I would get that urge to just swim laps back and forth and I would head to rec centre but swimming never was a part regular of my life again. 

Then I became a mother; and my life was no longer mine. It’s the strangest thing when you realize that every aspect of your life is dictated by a tiny little person. Sleep, food, bathing, sex, watching a movie, grocery shopping, seeing freinds, even going to the bathroom! It’s like everything I was slowly started to disappear and being a mom was the only thing I was.   Luckily for me, that selflessness didn’t last too long. I figured out how to maintain my own life while keeping my role as a mother a priority. 

Even as I built my own life that allowed me to be a MomME (the perfect balance of Mom and Me), I still had a part of me that I never got back. It wasn’t just swimming that I was no longer doing, but my biggest “loss” was my career.  I’m sure if I took the time to think it through I could find a number of other hobbies that I ended up pushing aside because of motherhood and life in general. 

Here I am at a turning point in my life. Both children are fairly independant and in school full time. The time I didn’t have before has suddenly made an appearance again and I’m not even sure what to do with it. As I’m going through this rut, my husband asked me “what would make you feel whole again?”. That question hit me right in the gut. I don’t know! How do I go about figuring that out? I didn’t even realize I was not whole to start with! I knew I had suppressed parts of me but did that mean I was no longer whole? I had changed so much over the past 10 years that maybe there was a disconnect between who I had become and who I thought I was. 

So this summer is the summer of me. It’s about me figuring out who I am outside of my little family. Outside of my kids, outside of working with my husband in his business, aside from this life I have been fully engulfed in for so long. What do I want to do? What do I enjoy? Who do I want to spend time with? What did I “give up”? 

For the first time in about 10 years, I jumped into a swimming pool, alone, with no children, floaties, no intention of hitting up water slides or playing catch in the baby pool.  The feeling was unreal. I wasn’t even sure my body knew the strokes anymore. Although the first swim was a struggle, the next morning I was back at it again. And every morning for the past week. I think this will be the start of reclaiming my own life. I just needed to test out the waters again. 

Are there any hobbies or passions you gave up? Have you longed to do anything but felt you just didn’t have the time for it? Are you at a point in your life where you want to reclaim aspects of your life, you lost? Are you longing to have a hobby but not sure what you might want to do?


Great Hobbies for Mothers:

  • Reading- Book Club
  • Writing – Blogging, Freelance, Poetry
  • Art – Drawing, Painting, Pottery, Graphic Design
  • Sport and Activity – Fitness classes, Yoga, Recreational sports, Walking/Running Clubs
  • Further Learning – Online courses
  • Creating – Knitting, Sewing, DIY, Home decor, Photography
  • Businesses – Sales, Services
  • Volunteer – Seniors, Children, Animal Shelter, Non-Profit Organizations
  • Meet Ups
  • Beauty – Esthetics, Makeup, Hair

Mona Ismaeil is a modest fashion blogger, writer and community organizer.  Mona advocates for Muslim women and promotes their civic engagement, builds interfaith bridges, and is passionate about bringing awareness about Islamophobia to light in public forums. A trained teacher and seasoned educator, Mona lectures on a variety of subjects across the province, including Islamophobia, bullying, building acceptance, and multiculturalism. Her favourite things to do are to travel and spend time with her 2 children enjoying all Edmonton has to offer!