“So, what do you do in your free time?”

It’s a question I dread in small talk, conversations, interviews. Mainly, I guess, because I don’t have a respectable answer. My free time — I do have it, even as a mom of two. In fact, on the weeks my kids are with their dad, I have a lot of it. On the weeks they’re home, I have none of it. Maybe it’s this back and forth that makes it so difficult.

If I were to answer honestly, I’d say, “I either spend 100% of my time momming or 100% of my time waiting for my kids to come home.” And man, is that a boring answer.

What happened?

I used to be a runner, an amateur actress, a singer and a writer. These passions defined me, made me who I was.

But honestly, now there’s cleaning, and laundry. There’s spending some time one-on-one with my husband. There’s too little catching up with friends and family on the phone or zoom. Then there’s the obligatory late-night, melt-into-the-couch Netflix watching, when sure, my time is free, but my energy is depleted and finding a new passion is about the last thing I want to do.

Now, it’s not like I haven’t tried. Trust me, I have tried to get a hobby. In fact, I’ve tried many of them.

Some of my flame-out passions have included learning guitar, speaking a new language and creative lettering. I bought the supplies, signed up for the apps, took a lesson or two. But ultimately, learning something new when you’re over 40 is really hard. Like, really hard. You have to practice it daily, and the unavoidable interruptions of life seem to so easily derail that habit. I am now the owner of a dusty, out of tune guitar, a couple unfinished language courses and a lot of sloppy calligraphy.

I was really into Crossfit for a while, but my body and my arthritis were less enthusiastic. I tried puzzling, even convincing my husband to build me a special table. I have a beautiful mountain bike, but it’s hibernating as the snow and weather has that hobby on hiatus.

I haven’t given up.

I keep hoping something will ignite a fire in my soul that convinces me to make it a priority.

My latest commitment is construction. I even took a six week class. Today I feel super empowered and excited. In the garage as I type, there are several large, wrapped boxes with my name on the tags. Bless my gifting husband, it’s nearly impossible to disguise a mitre saw.

I have all sorts of ideas of what I can make: a bike ramp for my son, a garden shed for our tools, perhaps some shelves for the garage.

Will this be the hobby that sticks? Will this be the passion that defines me as something other than Mom?

Time will tell. If you see a bunch of nearly-new power tools on Craigslist by February … well, let’s hope not.