A few days ago, I was chatting with a working mom with two small kids and I said: “I don’t know how you do it all.” Her response? “I don’t do it all. I have to sacrifice a lot to work outside of the home.” She then shared how she constantly struggles to try to find a balance between her family, household responsibilities, and her job. When she asked me what I struggle with as a stay-at-home mom, I told her one of my biggest insecurities—not feeling like I am doing enough to contribute to society as “just” a stay-at-home mom, and at times, wondering if I made the right decision.
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Maybe you are like that working mom, struggling to find a good balance. Maybe you are like me, spending your days at home and wondering if it is the right choice. Wherever life finds you in this current moment, as moms, we all share a major thing in common. We all make sacrifices for our children, both big and small. These acts of sacrifice manifest themselves in many different ways throughout motherhood, but perhaps they are most evident in the early years.
In pregnancy, you may have to sacrifice your health, as nausea plagues you all day long. Sometimes you sacrifice self-confidence as your body changes and shifts and grows in new and unexpected ways. You may have to sacrifice modesty, as you give yourself and your growing belly over to various medical procedures. You might have to sacrifice financially if you become a mother with the help of fertility treatments or through adoption.
In the newborn phase, you sacrifice sleep. Loads and loads of sleep. You sacrifice your own comfort as your newborn latches incorrectly and your body screams in pain. Sometimes you sacrifice your mental health as anxious thoughts fill your mind. You sacrifice control of your time because now you are at the mercy of your baby’s needs 24 hours a day.
Sometimes you have to sacrifice your expectations, in order to keep from feeling completely overwhelmed. Before having a baby, maybe you were like me and truly didn’t understand mothers who said how hard it was just to sneak in a shower. Now you know that showering can feel like a luxury, and at the same time, one more thing to add to your growing to-do list. The dishes might sit in the sink. The laundry might pile up. You might have to lower your standards for a while. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your pride, let people into your messy house (greasy hair and all), and accept help when it is offered.
You probably find yourself having to sacrifice time with your partner. You quickly realize date nights take way more effort and might be few and far between. You desperately try not to lose sight of each other as you navigate this new existence, but oftentimes your relationship takes a back seat as you try to survive these early years.
Sometimes this also means sacrificing friendships. It’s not that you don’t care or long for connectedness with your friends. In fact, you probably feel that you need it more now than ever. But finding the time to make these connections happen can sometimes feel impossible. You pray for friendships that are full of grace, where no scores are being kept, and you can pick up right where you left off even if it has been weeks or months in between phone calls or visits.
Sometimes you have to sacrifice a dream…at least temporarily. As women, we are told that we can have it all, and while I love the sentiment behind this thought, there are just so many hours in the day. Maybe we can have it all, just not all at the same time. During these especially demanding years of motherhood, some aspirations might have to be put on hold for a while. In this season of life, we learn to appreciate other accomplishments. (Yes, showering counts!)
At this point, maybe you are thinking about all the other sacrifices that I haven’t even mentioned. It is true that I have really only scratched the surface. And maybe you are like me and have days when you are just plain tired of having to sacrifice. Frankly, I miss having total control of my time.
I want my floors to stay clean for more than two-minute stretches. I am exhausted from having to be on duty around the clock. I want to be selfish. I want to curl up on the couch with my favorite blanket and Netflix and stay there all the livelong day, without having to fulfill anyone else’s needs. Does this mean I am a terrible mother? I don’t think so. I think it just means I am human.
So, is it all worth it? If I had really understood how many sacrifices there would be…if I had truly been able to grasp how hard, crazy, and exhausting motherhood would be, would I still have chosen this path for myself? Yes. One million times yes—because through this gift of motherhood, I have gained so much more than I have ever sacrificed. I bet you would say the same.
Mary Ann Blair is a stay-at-home mom living in the Pacific Northwest with her two little gentlemen and hubs. Besides chronicling her adventures in motherhood, she loves the outdoors, reading, and all things crafty. She especially enjoys connecting with other parents who like to keep it real. After all, parenthood can be messy! She can be found on Facebook at Miracles in the Mess.