Today, on this Mother's Day, I can't help but reflect on what it means to me to be a mother. The word that comes into my mind is sacrifice. To be a mother is to sacrifice We sacrifice our bodies, our time, our sleep, our education, our freedom to do as we please, and our sanity. One must ask the question, is it really worth it?
Any mother can tell you that 9 months of pregnancy is not easy on the body. For the first few months we get to feel like we've driven in a race car on Highway 1 for way too long. Puking morning, afternoon, and night, and feeling so tired and exhausted that it's hard to even get off the couch. Then our bellies begin to grow and our skin starts to itch because it's never been stretched like this before. As a kicking baby starts to take over our mid drift we feel like every vital organ is becoming this child's soccer ball. And finally, toward the end, we know this body can't stretch any more, these ankles can't get any more swollen, and this back is about to give in from all the pressure and pain. Not to mention headaches, hemroids, and all those other fun things that come with pregnancy. Once the baby is delivered, our bodies still suffer. We spend the first six weeks sitting on a doughnut and trying not to cough or laugh, and our breasts become so large and engorged they feel like they are coming out our throat. Once those things begin to recover and even years after the baby has been born, we still don't get that beautiful skinny body we once had back. We get to deal with stretch marks, those pesky hemorrhoids that didn't seem to go away, and that pooch in front that no matter what amount of diet and exercise we do, doesn't want to leave. I call it "the mom pooch". If this isn't sacrificing your body, I don't know what is.
Along with our bodies we get to sacrifice our time. Once that newborn arrives, we are on their schedule. And it doesn't get better as they get older. Our time becomes dedicated to getting them to eat, trying to teach them the essential things they need to learn, milestones if you will, washing their laundry, cleaning up their messes, picking up their toys, and trying to figure out how we can calm the 2 year old throwing the temper tantrum. We spend our time running them to baseball games, piano lessons, dance classes, and to friends houses. We spend it breaking up brotherly wrestling matches or holding a crying child who has fallen and scraped their knee. Even when we have a free minute, it's really not ours because at any second that child could call from school saying they are sick and need you to come get them or they forgot thier lunch or homework and need you to bring it to them. Or like I had to just the other day, take them new clothes because they accidently peed their pants. Our time is no longer "ours" it is dedicated to those little ones that we have chosen to bring into this world, who might need us at any given minute, and we must drop everything we are doing and run to their aid.
Everyone knows that mothers sacrifice their sleep. It's impossible to sleep while pregnant, because you can't get comfortable in between trips to the bathroom. Once those sweet little ones arrive, we spend our nights feeding, rocking, and watching just to make sure they are breathing. Even when they do sleep through the night, we don't because we feel like something is wrong because they are not waking up to eat. We lay awake at night listening to make sure we can hear our 3 year old snoring, or just listening to the noises outside making sure no one is breaking in to take them away. Although I haven't experienced it yet. I know we don't get to sleep when our children are teenagers and we lay awake waiting for them to get home at night. Even once they are home, I'm sure we lay awake wondering what they were doing and if they were making good choices. Then we spend our sleep time praying and worrying for their sake. Will we as mothers ever get a good night's rest???
Mothers also at times sacrifice their education. Some moms work because they choose to, and others work because they have to, and some moms get the opportunity to stay home with their children. That is the case for me. Although I LOVE staying home with my children, at times it makes me sad that I don't get to use what education I have out in the world. I also feel like I would love to go back to school but can't right now because I need to be at home with my children. It's hard to feel validated in this world when the only people relying on us are under the age of 18 (or 8 in my case). We feel like we have so much to offer, but don't get that opportunity because we are "just stay at home moms". Like that term means that we are uneducated baby making machines that can only communicate at a 3 year old level and only want to talk about the cute things our kids do. At times I do feel like my education has gone to waste.
We as moms also sacrifice any freedom to do as we please. As a mom, you can't take a quick road trip, you don't get to have a girls night out every time you feel like it, you don't get to run to the movie, shopping, not even to the grocery store without planning it out days, even weeks in advance. To be able to go do something fun, it requires finding babysitters, making it quick so you can get back home to your kids, or dealing with taking them along with you to everything you do. Life can no longer have any spontaneity And if you do try to do something spontaneous, it usually confuses the kids and turns out to be a complete and utter disaster. Freedom is something we give up at delivery.
Finally, the last thing we sacrifice is our sanity. Maybe not all moms sacrifice this, but I know I have. Being a mom is mentally exhausting. We are constantly having to plan not only our own life, but the lives of our children. We stress about whether we are doing a good job or not, whether we are teaching them the right things, and if we are spending enough quality time with them. We drive ourselves crazy wondering how they will turn out in life and if they will love us or hate us when they get older. Not only is all of that mentally exhausting but the day by day stuff is too. We go crazy when our kids don't listen to a thing we tell them, when they do something we have told them a million times not to do, or deliberately disobey just to prove a point. We lose our brains when they sass us, ignore us, and worst of all tell us they don't like us. I think it's common knowledge that mom's are crazy and our kids made us that way.
So, am I complaining just to complain, do I not enjoy motherhood? The fact is, I really am not complaining at all. Becoming a mother is the best decision I ever made. I would sacrifice all this and more to experience the joy that comes with being a mama. There is truly nothing greater!!!! The smiles, the hugs, funny things they say, they all make it worth it. When you see the values you have so diligently been trying to instill in them shine through, it makes it worth it. I just want to share a few experiences I have had lately that make it soooo worth it for me. Nothing makes me happier than when I see my 7 year old helping his little brother out. Like today, he made his bed for him. How sweet is that? Maybe he is learning kindness. When he knows that the best present he can give me is a coupon for a "foot musoosh", that makes my day.
I don't mind the sacrifice when I see him treating his friends kindly and being a good friend to everyone he meets. I find sooo much joy when my sassy little 3 year old who tells me daily that he doesn't like me, gave me a hug a few days ago and said,"your the greatest mom ever." And today, how he was so willing to help out and give me many kisses and hugs just because it was mom's day. Maybe, just maybe, he is learning that love and family are all we have and are so important. And last, nothing touches my heart more than a kiss and a snuggle from my little 7 month old at midnight when she should have been asleep but just wanted her mom to rock and hold her. I think every mom feels a sense of peace when she goes in each night to see her sleeping darlings and realizes, they will only be ours for a short time. As hard as each day is, each day is worth more than gold. Would we trade motherhood for anything? I know I wouldn't. The sacrifice is worth every second I get to spend with my babies.
"I'll love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."