After five long years of holding on – my grip growing more tenuous with each day of working motherhood – I’ve finally decided to let go of my hobbies, at least for now. They were old, old friends, my hobbies. I met the New York Times crossword puzzle in college, old editions of which ran in the school newspaper each day. The puzzle accompanied me to boring geology lectures and nursed me through hangovers on Sunday mornings, as I sat with it over bagels and cream cheese, smiling at its cleverness. We had a complicated relationship, and it got progressively more difficult to deal with over the course of each week; on Mondays, it was easy, and we got along so well, but by Saturday, I usually walked out on it in frustration. But still, we stayed together. The puzzle followed me to law school, moved with me to Los Angeles, and even showed up on my honeymoon in Tahiti.
When Harper was born, however, like so many of my other friends without kids, the puzzle and I decided that we could only hang out on Sundays, because I just didn’t have time during the week. I was faithful for a few years, but then Davis was born, and I couldn’t seem to find a place for my old friend in my new life. It still came by every Sunday morning, but sometimes I didn’t get a chance to even say hello until Sunday night, sometimes even Monday or Tuesday. Lately, I haven’t been seeing it at all.
Hiking, my other friend, didn’t get along with the puzzle. They both wanted Sunday mornings to themselves, although before I had kids, we were able to work out a compromise. I hiked early on Sunday mornings, then came home and had breakfast with the puzzle. After Harper was born, hiking and I kept in touch, albeit sporadically. We saw each other once a month or so, and I always left feeling happy, reminded of why I used to enjoy our time together so much. But then Sunday mornings were quickly claimed by birthday parties, soccer practices, and family breakfasts, and hiking and I parted ways for good.
For a while, I refused to admit that it was over. I still told people that I was a hiker, and I had a stack of Sunday puzzles sitting on my kitchen counter, patiently waiting for me like a loyal old dog. They’re even still included on my resumé, in the “hobbies and other interests” section at the bottom. But I’ve finally come to terms with reality. I simply don’t have the time, the energy, or even the desire for them any longer, and so I’m burying them in the casket that contains all of the other remnants from my old life, Risa BC (Before Children). I’m sad about it, I really am. I feel like there’s been a death in the family, like I’m saying goodbye to a part of myself, the way I did when I realized that it is no longer appropriate for me to wear string bikinis. But unlike my bikinis, I still have hope for my hobbies. Someday, when my kids are grown, I hope that I’ll meet up with them again, and that it will seem as if no time has passed at all. But for now, I’m saying goodbye, old friends. You’ll be dearly missed.