Motherhood requires sacrifice.
As I play the very unhealthy, yet seemingly inevitable, game of mom-comparison I find that different moms sacrifice different parts of themselves and their lives pre-kids.
Here’s my list.
I will sacrifice reading. I love to read. I have a degree in English—that required LOTS of reading. My roommate used to say if she read as much as I do, then her eyeballs would fall out and roll down the hallway. That never happened, but for a few years of my life, I dedicated a significant percentage of my time to reading. I will read again when my kids are older.
I will sacrifice a neat home. If I hear you complain about how someone’s home is dirty or untidy, then you will never be invited to my home. I have two kids age 3 and under. I know a mom of four who keeps a spotless home. I envy her, but I will not strive to be her. I will live in clutter, knowing the day will come when I miss seeing Thomas trains and Eric Carle books scattered around my home.
I will sacrifice peer friendships. I have an amazing support system within my family—a husband, a twin sister, a plethora of helpful parents. I interact with co-workers, paid and unpaid, who care about me and whom I care about. I relate to teenagers—yes, teenagers—who sometimes grow to know and accept me, with my strengths and weaknesses, in deep and authentic ways. I know there are people I would love being friends with. I know I could learn from them and grow with them. Maybe there will be time later. For now, my time goes to my family, my job, and a bit to my home…and that feels like too much.
I will not sacrifice food. I love to cook. I will cook when I can. I love to sit down and eat with my family. I will not be like the mom in the film, A Christmas Story, who didn’t eat warm meals so that she could literally wait on her husband and kids. I will demonstrate that Mom is a part of the family, not the servant of the family.
I will not sacrifice sleep. Much of this I cannot help. When I can, I will sleep instead of read or clean house (see above). I can function without reading the latest Picoult novel or washing those 5 dishes in the sink. I cannot function and be a decent person, mom, wife, employee, or pastor on no sleep.
I will not sacrifice my self-worth. For me, this means I will not end up on a Mommy Makeover show with flat, stringy hair, no make-up, and mom jeans. I will not. Now, this is a slippery slope, and I don’t wait to slide into sinful vanity. But, I will remember that while I may have baby excrement under my fingernails at times, I am not excrement. I will shower every day. Most days, I will present myself in a way that makes me feel good about me. Some days, I will present myself in a way that makes me feel great and knocks my husband dead again.
Sometimes I feel guilty about my list of things I will not sacrifice. I watch moms devote every ounce of their energy to their kids while their wet hair is in a ponytail, and they’re wearing an oversized tee over mom jeans. I feel guilty for being so vain. But, my suspicion is that they also have their lists of what they will not sacrifice.