My Love of Reading Came Back
I used to have a love of reading. I liked to read books for fun in high school. I dropped off reading so much during my college years when I worked three part-time jobs to make ends meet and needed time to spend with my boyfriend (who is now my husband, so that worked out). I read a few books between that time and having babies, but I never really got back in the swing of it.
The year after my first daughter was born, I had horrible postpartum anxiety and got diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder about six months after she was born. It was a tough year. I read one single book that year. The next year, I read one book about potty training—no regrets about that.
This past New Year’s Eve, I was at a gathering, and friend of ours had started reading more books that year. He loaned a book to my husband. I remember him saying, “if I’m going to ignore my kids, I might as well be reading a book and not be on my phone.” As weird as that sounds, it really stuck with me.
It wasn’t so much a new year’s resolution, but I decided in that first week of January 2020 that I’d make a goal to read ten books that year. I wanted to renew my love of reading. Little did I know there’d be a pandemic and much, much more time to spend at home. With the libraries closed for a while, I had to depend on reading books that had been on my shelves for years, but I was glad I had some unread material around.
I also decided to take my friend’s advice to heart and spend more time reading in front of my kids. Being able to tune out kids shows and sit with a good book made me feel like a better mom, not only because I wasn’t focusing on Daniel Tiger songs for the thousandth time, but because I was using my brain in a way that made me feel like something more than a mom.
For me this year, it’s been important to model reading for my kids. I didn’t really expect it to take off, but I often find my two kids sitting alone in a chair looking at books. They ask me to read them more books, even preferring book reading sessions over screen time sometimes. I’m shocked. I didn’t really think that my love of reading would translate so sneakily into their lives.
I’ve fallen more and more in love with reading this year, and I’ve gotten through 56 books. That might seem like a huge number to some of you, and some of you may have read 100 or more, but I’m really proud of my accomplishment. I’m also proud that my love of reading has sparked a love of reading in my kids at such a young age.
We’ve also started the program 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. Though we don’t always get every book written down, it’s been a fun way to see how many books we really do read in a day, week, or month. We’re big friends of the library. They know us now, but we love that. We love that our love of reading and occasional late fines keep the public libraries running.
I’m not saying that everyone needs to do what I did, but I think challenging yourself to spend less time checked out in front of your kids can be beneficial in ways you don’t expect. For me, showing them my love of reading also shows them that I have an identity and interests outside of being their mom. It demonstrates to them that I can prioritize myself and my own need for something “more” outside of filling their need for snacks on a regular basis.
I’ve inspired myself this year to read more. Maybe next year it will be to exercise in front of them more so they can see me building a healthy and strong body. I don’t know exactly what my challenge will be this year, but I want my babies to know that their mom is smart, interesting, strong, and capable. What are some of your goals this year?