Most of us know that sacrifice is an inevitable part of motherhood. You could say it’s one of the most important parts of parenting in general. We sacrifice our bodies, our sleep, our time and our finances all in the name of doing what is best for our children. And sometimes, sacrifice is absolutely necessary and it is what’s best for our children.
But other times?
We are just kidding ourselves, guys.
If your “sacrifice” comes in the form of something you are denying yourself that could improve your life, it may not be the type of sacrifice your kids need. If you’re “sacrificing” your workout to spend more time with your child or “sacrificing” your career for your kids to work a job that is killing your soul or slaving away cooking healthy food that your kid is just going to complain about, what are you really sacrificing here? And more importantly, who exactly is it serving?
Although it’s not always the case, more often than not, sacrifice goes hand in hand to:
- Things that make us miserable as parents.
- We do them because we think we are supposed to.
- We think they will benefit our children.
- We might even do them because we worry about being judged from other (sacrificial) parents.
But here’s the thing: You don’t get a medal for being the most miserable parent.
There’s no one keeping score of how many sacrifices you have made in the name of your children. Your kids aren’t automatically going to do better in school or get better paying jobs. They’re not going to be shielded from hardships or even be happier people just because you stayed up late hand-sewing a costume, baking cookies, or by passing up on your dream job for them.
I think so many of us try to prove ourselves by holding up our sacrifices to the world like shiny marbles in our hands; we look at sacrifice as a good thing instead of acknowledging how miserable it often makes us.
For me, it’s almost become second nature to grumble and complain about motherhood and frankly, even I am tired of myself. It’s hard to shake off years of conditioning and “shoulds” and focus on what my family and I really need to thrive. It’s hard to cut through the clutter and reach a compromise where I can admit that embarrassingly enough, sometimes I make motherhood harder than it has to be. Do I really need to fight the toddler because she prefers to have messy hair? Do I really need to make elaborate dinners every night that leave me with hours of dishes? Do I really need to feel guilty for spending money on clothes just because I haven’t lost the “baby” weight?
The key, I am learning, is to find that happy medium of learning to live with sacrifice that serves a purpose while abandoning those that don’t. When we stop solely living for ourselves and realize that serving others is its own brand of happiness, it is a gift. But still, there comes a point when too much sacrifice stops being a gift to anyone.
For my part, I’ve decided to embracing having a husband who helps (and letting him help with more), continue to do work that I love and makes me feel fulfilled, and making exercise a regular party of my life even though it’s a lot of time and effort for our whole family to make it happen.
And it really has made such a difference.