The First Time I Understood Sacrifice

This is part of the "Writing Motherhood" writing challenge and giveaway. The topic is "a first." It can be anything: the first time you dropped your child off at school, the first time you realized you were a mother, the first time you freaked out. Just start writing. It doesnt matter what you write. It's just about writing. See what happens. Post a link to your own writing in the comments section and you can win a copy of "Writing Motherhood."

As a mom, "sacrifice" is a word we hear often. We sacrifice our bodies for nine months. We sacrifice our sleep for God-only-knows how long. We sacrifice our careers. We sacrifice our own time to clean up the dishes, make lunches, read bedtime stories and bathe our kids. We sacrifice our comfort as a squirming toddler sits on our lap crying for a 8-hour airplane ride. By the time our children are two minutes old, we've all experienced some kind of motherly sacrifice.

My kids are now four and three. The sacrificing is so much different for me now. I sacrifice my last piece of chocolate to split with them. I will sacrifice my computer time in the evening to read them a book. But generally they are more self sufficient so the sacrificing on my part has diminished a bit in some way. It's a little sad sometimes.

Now, our life has become a bit simpler--at least for now until something else stirs it up. I have three things facing me right now. New sacrifices. Should we A) add another baby to our household B) Send me back to work C) Buy a new house. Now I'm at a point where one of these roads will lead me to a different level of sacrifice--the first time of choosing to make a sacrifice. They may not all seem connected, but they are.

Another baby leads us back down the road to the ultimate motherly sacrifice--no sleep, breastfeeding, never sitting down to eat, starting it all over again. It also means I will probably delay going back to work for a while, which I both want to do and don't want to do. Delaying this means sacrificing my career in the long term. Having another baby means not working and not being able to afford a bigger house. Then we're sacrificing space and comfort.

If I choose B (going back to work), I'm sacrificing having another baby. It does not bode well for an employee to take a job and get pregnant right away. So it doesn't make sense to jump back into the workforce only to take off some maternity leave and struggle to do it all. If I chose to not have another child, going back to work means sacrificing my time with my kids. Even with them in school now and their ability to play on their own, I love being at home with them.

A new house means many things for us. Mainly it means I either go back to work (sacrificing my time here at home) or make some major sacrifices here at home in order to afford the house we want.

If we leave everything status quo? I'm left in our small house enjoying my two kids. It's not a bad place to be, is it? But I feel sometimes taking risks is a good thing and with risk comes sacrifice. But in the end, it's me making the sacrifice. Now I have the opportunity to decide which way I want to go. What do I want to sacrifice?


Anonymous said...

Great post. Great reminder that every decision entails sacrifice at some level, whether we admit it or not. I've contributed to the writing challenge. My post is at http://kovacsjane.wordpress.com/

Baby Bunching said...

I have also posted over at http://www.babybunching.com about the first time I realized I wasn't SuperMom.

Mad About Multiples! said...

I agonize over my decisions all the time. There is so much more at stake now that we have kids. Thanks for the post!

Mad About Multiples! is contributing to this writing event.


(listing the URL, it doesn't seem to want to show up in Blogger comments)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

You absolutely CAN go back to work and then announce the you are pregnant less than 12 weeks later. I did it. Of course I didn't know that I was pregnant when I accepted the new job... But you know - you have several months to prove your commitment and then just coming back to work after maternity leave automatically makes them realize that you're serious about your job.

Sometimes I think it's harder to have options. When you have a choice to make you feel like there is so much riding on it. When you don't have a choice, you just keep going and make it work.

Maybe that's the answer. Think of what would make you happiest in the long run (we moms always have to keep in mind that a day will come when our kids don't want to be seen with us - let alone hang out at home with us in their free time). Then just make it work.

At least as a writer you know that you will never be at a loss for something to do when the kids start to grow up. I think that any choice you make will be great.

Tiffany Severtson said...

For my sixteenth birthday, my grandmother presented me with a string of pearls. For as long as I could recall before that momentous sweet sixteenth, I had received these same tiny pearls, one by one, each marking a “first” in my life. It was always exciting to receive one but then it was quickly whisked away by my mother for safe keeping until that very special birthday. My grandmother did this for my sister and me, as well as both of her Goddaughters. Expensive? Yes, but filled with priceless sentiment. Each set of these pearls holds its own story. For all four of us, we received pearls for all the same typical firsts such as: first lost tooth, first day of school, birthdays and Christmas. As we grew older, the reasons for pearls changed, thus beginning to tell the story of our young lives. For me it was things like first gymnastics meet, first time placing at a meet, confirmation at church, etc. For others it was track meets, horse back riding, Four H Club, and so on. I still remember the day I opened my string of pearls and all that it meant to me then. I thought I was so mature, having reached the all important age of sixteen. I still feel quite young at nearly 32, but the way I see the string of pearls now, it represents so much more to me.

My grandmother has been gone over 12 years now. When I think of the string of pearls, I think of how much joy it must have brought her, to see us receive them on our sixteenth, and to see us wear them with such pride. It also makes me think of how proud she would be of me and all the firsts I’ve had since she gave me that string of pearls. Although many of the firsts since then have been important, none seem quite as profound as those relating to motherhood. The first time I found out I was pregnant, after over three years of finding out that I wasn’t. The first time I felt our first child moving inside my belly and the first time I felt our second. The first time I held each of my babies. The first time I truly understood how much my own parents love me.

These days my life is filled with the firsts of my two daughters. A bit regretfully, I do not have a collection of pearls for them, but perhaps I’ll find my own way to mark their firsts in a way that will become very special to them one day. Until then, I’m reminded every day of the treasures life holds in both experiencing and witnessing “firsts.” I remain grateful to my grandmother, for recognizing the importance of firsts and thus instilling this value in me and others. I suppose if my nearly 32 year old self could have met my sixteen year old self, she would have said “Keep your pearls close.....there is so much more to come.”

Tiffany Severtson

Anonymous said...

I love this idea, thanks for putting it out there! Great post!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestion! I posted my "first" at http://boysgonewild.wordpress.com.
Elizabeth H

WritingMother said...

Hi Linda, this is Lisa Garrigues, author of Writing Motherhood. As you can see from the outpouring of comments to your post, you touch on a tender spot in this writing about the first time you understood the sacrifices we mothers make. I wonder if it might help to think of "sacrifices" as "choices." I'm sure you will make the right choice. Best, Lisa

purplemommy said...

Day late and a dollar short. My first is up.

RebekahC said...

Accidentally posted this on your notice thread instead of here. So, reposting. Sorry! :)

Darn! I was going to participate in this yesterday, but my reminder didn't hit until this morning. DOH! :(

My first I was going to blog about was when my oldest daughter started kindergarten last month. She never went to daycare or preschool, as I am a stay-at-home mom, so when full day kindergarten was upon us I became a total wreck. I bawled my eyes out for weeks in advance just because I couldn't believe the time had come for my baby girl (she was 2.5 wks away from turning 5 when school started) to leave me. I know it's silly because it was just kindergarten- not college, but it was so bittersweet none the less. I kept seeing her starting kindergarten as the door to her turning 5 and that being the door to her turning 18 and moving away. Wow, big jump there, huh? LOL I know. I know. I couldn't help it though. I'm always an emotional wreck for about a month preceeding her birthday anyways, so topped with the milestone achievement of beginning school it was just too much drama for one little ol' me.

By the time the first day of school actually rolled around I was absolutely terrified to take my daughter and drop her off. It wasn't that I didn't think she was ready. Quite the contrary, I knew she was ready. And it was that readiness that was bugging the crap out of me because that meant she really was growing up and needed me just that tiny bit less than before. I knew she was going to have an absolute blast at school because for the past 2 years it's all we've heard about. All her friends and cousins were in daycare and/or preschool before entering kindergarten, so she'd already watched all of them go and was desperate to get in on the action. Plus being home with me all the time I was able to really work with her on a pre-k level at home, and by the time she started kindergarten she was doing everything the other kindergarten kids were doing and then some. She's even reading at near a first grade level. So, yes, I knew she'd do great.

I told myself I wasn't going to cry when I walked her in. I knew I wouldn't be the only one if I did, but the thought of crying in public, no matter how sentimental the reason, was just too embarassing. And since I knew no one there, I didn't want to start the year off as "that mom who bawled". lol I walked her in, gave her kiss good-bye, and sent her on her way. She did great. Then she realized I was really leaving, and it hit her. She came running back to me and became all clingy. I can't remember kindergarten myself, but I can imagine the mix of emotions my daughter was dealing with, because I was dealing with the same ones on the mommy level. I told her I would walk with her to her class (they'd met initially in the gym so the classes could all walk in together incase some of the littler ones didn't know where to go), and so together we walked- her shuffling her feet, and me feeling a huge knot in my stomach.

Outside her classroom the teacher told all the kids to find the locker with their name on it, and at this my daughter immediately perked up and off she went. It was if the initial totally excited little girl took back over, and she couldn't move away from me fast enough. After she located her locker and put her backpack inside, the teacher told all the kids to go find their seat in their classroom. It was here that I had to say my 'good-bye' again. Amazingly, at this point I had still not shed a single tear since stepping on school grounds. Nearly forgetting to even stop on her way in to the classroom, my daughter made a quick beeline for me. Grabbing a quick hug and tossing an "I love you, mommy!" over her shoulder she was gone. That's when I noticed another class mom begin tearing up as her little one headed off, and that's when my own personal waterworks began. I'd held it together up until that moment, but seeing the other woman's release was just too much for me and simply couldn't help but cry. It was official, my first baby was a big kindergarten girl.


P.S. Okay, I just have to say that I'm again bawling like a baby just recalling this. Oi, mommy emotions! LOL

sak said...

Once you understand sacrifice, several other things come into view:

1. You understand why ancient peoples thought in these terms. They were right! We were often taught to dismiss them as wrong, but in fact, they saw a piece of Truth. Their error was that they located sacrifice on a concrete level--sexuality as in those virgins who served in temples or physically as with Aztec warriors whose hearts were daily torn out to assure that the Sun God was appeased and would return.

2. Also some of our symbols now become more intelligible. Take candles! The wax which gives itself up so that we can have light--is that not us?

This subject deserves to be developed over a glass of wine with time to explore!