Amelia Bentrup discusses how she came to accept, embrace, and pursue her interests and passions and offers tips for other moms to do the same.
There is a lot of talk and encouragement and buzz about self-care for moms, often focused on making sure you exercise and take long baths and spend money on yourself and get plenty of sleep. And all of that is well and good. Personally, I am a big fan of exercise, and even more of a fan of personal hygiene, which is especially important when you exercise. Yes, you really should be eating healthy foods and striving to get plenty of rest and buying new clothes when you need them.
But that isn’t really the most important part of self-care as a mom. I believe the most important part of self-care is finding the time and the space and the energy to selflessly pursue your God-given passions and interests while also selflessly being a wife and mom and caring for your children and loving your husband.
Yes, it can be done. I recently started pursuing a long-standing passion and dream of mine when I started a pet-sitting and dog-boarding business in my home. This is something I have long dreamed about and thought about but never pursued. It was always later, when my kids are older, when I have more time, when I have more money, when I am no longer homeschooling. Later, later, later.
And while I had a lot of excuses about why I couldn’t pursue my passion of caring for pets, the real reason I delayed is because I thought my passion and interests weren’t good or holy enough. After all, really good, Catholic moms would spend all their time caring for their kids and when they pursued their passions it would be more along of the lines of writing spiritual books and articles, crafting saint dolls, giving talks, sewing diapers, working for pro-life causes, working in religious ministries, or singing in the church choir. I thought my passions and interests just weren’t holy enough, weren’t good enough. Really holy people would spend their time caring for people, not animals.
But then I started to realize that God made me to be me. He didn’t make me the kind of mom who has an intense interest in the liturgical year and celebrating every saint. He didn’t make me the kind of mom who goes around giving inspiring talks and writing books. He didn’t make me to be the kind of mom who counsels pregnant women or organizes fundraisers to support religious organizations and charitable causes.
He made me to be me. And He gave me an intense love for animals and caring for them. Ever since I was a child, I have had this passion and interest. Perhaps, you too have a passion or interest you would love to pursue, but aren’t sure how to selflessly make the time to do so while still caring for your family.
Talk to your husband:
Share your passions and interests with him. Brainstorm ideas about how you can pursue them. Can you take classes? Can you teach classes? Can you start a side business doing what you love? He might just turn out to be your biggest supporter and have some interesting ideas about how you can mesh your passion with your life.
Minimize your belongings:
One of the biggest obstacles to moms pursuing their passion is the feeling that they are drowning in housework. The easiest way to have a clean house is to have less stuff in it. Cleaning is much faster and easier when you don’t have to spend a lot of time tidying up. Kids really don’t need that many toys or clothes. You really don’t need 15 different cooking pots and three sets of bedding for each bed. Getting rid of a majority of your stuff will free up space and time for you to pursue what you really love.
Minimize kids’ activities:
You deserve a chance to pursue your interests and passions too. If that means you need to limit the activities your children are involved in, that is okay. Talk to your children and together decide which activities they really enjoy and bring value to their life and which they are willing to part with. You may be surprised to find that your children really love some activities, while they feel indifferent towards other activities and may be fine giving them up.
Many of us get paralyzed with indecision when it comes to wanting to try something new. Oftentimes the first step is to just start. Do one thing that makes you feel alive and sparks your interests and passions. Maybe this is reading a book or taking a class. It may be teaching a class or starting a blog. Whatever it is, just start. I highly recommend Jennifer Fulwiler’s book, Your Blue Flame: Drop the Guilt and Do What Makes You Come Alive, as a starting place for finding and pursuing your passions.
Do it with Love:
Don’t waste time wishing you had other people’s talents or passions or interests. God made you a unique individual. We all have unique gifts and talents we can share with this world. As Saint Teresa of Calcutta said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.” Whatever your passions and interests happen to be, pursue them with love and to the end of glorifying God. If you are really trying to do that, God will lead you where He wants you to go and reveal to you how you can use your unique talents and gifts to further the Kingdom of God.
Copyright 2023 Amelia Bentrup
About the Author
Amelia Bentrup is a wife and mother of five children ranging in age from early elementary school to college-aged. She spends her days homeschooling, being a semi-adequate housekeeper, writing, transcription editing, chauffeuring kids, walking through the woods, praying, and caring for a large assortment of pets that include three cats, two dogs and a rabbit. Occasionally, she tackles house projects that she immediately regrets starting,