I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a reality TV junkie. I have never really enjoyed sitcoms, with their laugh-tracks and predictable scenarios. I find them inherently obnoxious. Soap operas are as distasteful to me as eating soap itself, and dramas can be a bit depressing. I’ll watch the news, but if it’s an escape I’m craving – and what parent isn’t after a long day – reality television is where it’s at for me.

My favorite kind is the reality competition show. I could spend hours (when I should really be sleeping) watching competition cooking shows (yes Netflix, I AM still watching!) and it’s not because I love the culinary arts. It’s because I love watching people who love the culinary arts. I also enjoy designer competitions, and I’m no fashionista.

Now, I’m not naïve enough to believe these shows represent actual “reality.” I know the producers must weave some sort of story line; they’ve got to put on a show, after all. As a stay-at-home mom indulging in non-reality posing as reality on a nightly basis, I began to wonder why I’m so drawn to them. 

Here’s what I realized: it’s the act of watching people who know what they like to do – to see the passion in their eyes – that’s so captivating. Even the challenges and stresses they faced had merit.

I love being a Mom, and I’m grateful to be home with my kids. But I’ve missed this kind of passion in my life. Becoming a mother at a young age means that I skipped out on that pivotal time in which people typically figure out what they excel at. I know this is not the case for all, and that many mothers continue their hobbies after having children. I just wasn’t one of them.

Motherhood has given meaning to my life in a way nothing else ever could. It’s the most important and rewarding job I have. What I realized, though, is that I was doing a disservice to my kids by not pursuing additional passions. I wanted them to watch me enjoy my hobbies in the hopes that it may inspire them to develop their own.

So I started playing my guitar again. My boys were thrilled. They’d dance around as I played and were desperate to give the instrument a try themselves. I sang in front of them and have been humbled by their precious responses. I also started to write again. I wrote my children stories – illustrated by my father from pictures he took of them. My kids beam with pride at being in their own book.

I realized that I didn’t need to just watch people chase their passions. I could continue to chase my own. It’s been a challenge for me to find the time, and quite frankly, the energy, but it’s worth the effort. I needed more balance in my life, and everyone was happier when I found it. My husband and sons shared in my excitement when I got published for the first time, and my six-year-old has even expressed interest in becoming an author.

So for now, I will continue to dream, put in the effort, and encourage my boys to do the same. I will also continue to indulge in my guilty pleasure of reality TV, as long as my sons don’t try to watch “The Bachelor” with me. I’m not anxious for their dreams to take them THAT far.