I’m holding my four-month-old son, who for some reason this week, has occasionally decided his bed is not the place for sleeping longer than a few minutes. As I type, he slumbers contentedly on my lap. A minute ago, he was screaming his head off in his bed. He didn’t nap well today or yesterday. He’s tired. I’m tired. On the plus side, his sister is sound asleep without too much fuss, although 45 minutes ago, I was sure I had entered a contest to see how many children I could make unhappy at one time.
Before I was a mother, I knew this was part of the deal, and by “this” I mean the lack of sleep, the giving of yourself even when you have nothing left to give. Most people know that mothers — most mothers — give up a lot for their children. Until I was a mother, I didn’t know just how much.
Some of the things I, and other moms I know, have sacrificed:
- Personal privacy — “Mommy, you going potty?” Isabelle asks loudly, usually in a public place, like church.
- Personal space — When I’m trying to rock Corban to sleep or feed him in our orange swivel-rocking chair, Isabelle undoubtedly wants to squeeze in with us. If we’re on the couch, usually the three of us are on the same cushion.
- Peace of mind — Even when they’re healthy and sleeping soundly, I don’t feel like I ever completely relax about my children’s well-being. Lately, I’ve been envisioning all kinds of horrible things that might happen to them and trying to put those thoughts out of my mind. I know I can’t protect them from everything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try.
- Clean clothes — Seldom do I make it through an entire day without spit up, drool, water, food, stickers, marker and who knows what else on an article of clothing. Isabelle, particularly, likes to wipe her hands on my pants instead of using a napkin. Miss Manners would faint at our house.
- And while we’re on the subject, a clean house — I’ve never been a great housekeeper, but I’ve never been a slob, either. Since having kids, I have an almost-constant desire to clean, with little to no follow-through. Case in point, there’s hardly a clean dish in our kitchen, but now it’s the end of the day, and I’m tired. Plus, the aforementioned baby is still asleep on my lap. The dishes will always be there, that’s what seasoned mothers tell me, but I don’t really want to be known for my mold collection, either.
- Conversation — I’ve never been a great conversationalist. I’m even worse now. I hardly ever watch the news. I don’t read the paper (a journalist’s sin!). I spend most days with my kids and husband, and people will only listen so long to another story about the escapades of a 2-year-old, no matter how funny.
- Caffeine and chocolate — My kids will hear about this when they’re older. Every now and then, I give in to the chocolate temptation, but I pay for it later with a fussy baby.
Geez, when I write them out like that, I seem selfish and shallow. None of those things can make me smile or give me an unforgettable memory like my two God-given blessings. Nor do any of those things compare to the ultimate sacrifice a Father gave of His son.
John 3:16 took on a whole new meaning for me after I had children. God so loved the world that He gave His only son to die in our place. I can’t imagine willingly giving my only child to save the life of someone who hated me and might never have a relationship with me.
What a great sacrifice, indeed.