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The Judgmental Question You Don't Know You're Asking

If you are a mom and…

…you’re part of a running club

…or you sell handmade jewelry at craft fairs

…or you read books

…or you volunteer at a community theater

…or you have any sort of hobby that doesn’t involve your children…

Then you’ve certainly heard this question at least a time or two : “How do you have time for that?”

Six seemingly innocent but oh-so-loaded words.

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I’ve been asked that question many times, most often in regards to my baking, reading and writing. And every single time, I feel pressure to justify and defend. I used to respond with statements like:

“I wear my babies while I bake and my daughter loves to help.”

“I only read while I’m pumping.”

And, “I regularly choose writing over sleep.”

All of these answers were and still are 100% true but they were born out of defensiveness. I don’t know what it is about that question that makes me feel like I need to explain myself, like I need to assure the asker that I’m not being selfish with my time or putting my own hobbies above my kids.

I’ve asked “How do you have time for that?” to knowingly put someone in an awkward position where they have to admit that they choose their hobbies over their kids.

I’ve also asked that question more times than I’d like to admit. Sometimes I ask it out of pure admiration and curiosity. Like, seriously…how does that woman manage to foster homeless dogs or practice yoga several times per week or write a freaking novel while still parenting her children? And unfortunately, I know that I’ve also asked it in judgment. I’m hanging my head right now, but it’s true.

I’ve asked “How do you have time for that?” to knowingly put someone in an awkward position where they have to admit that they choose their hobbies over their kids. It’s a sad fact…even people like me who loathe the mom olympics play them from time to time.

So I’ve stopped asking the question. And I’ve started answering it in a much better way. Now, when somebody asks me how I have time for my baking, reading or writing, I say…

“I don’t.”

And I leave it at that. Because it’s true! There is always laundry to fold. There are always dishes to wash. There are always kids to feed, bathe, dress, diaper, sing to, play with and snuggle. There are always thank-you notes to write and mystery smears to scrub out of the carpet. We don’t have time for self care. We just don’t. But something’s got to give because we need it. We are desperate for our knitting parties, afternoons in the garden and church choir nights. And nobody wants a desperate mama. When I’m writing and reading and baking, I’m a better mom. But even if those things didn’t make me a better mom, I’d still need them. And that would be okay.

RELATED: Parents on the Playground: You're Judging Me, Aren't You?

So the next time someone asks you how you can possibly have time to take photography classes, dabble in oil painting or master hundreds of levels of Candy Crush Saga, just tell them, “I don’t.” And leave it at that.

Okay, I take back what I said about Candy Crush.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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