How much should moms sacrifice on behalf of their kids? Is there such thing as too much? How about too little?
My last post was about not losing yourself in a sea of “momness”, and I meant every single word of it. As moms I believe we need to work hard at remembering ourselves and remembering those around us (not just the ones under three feet tall!).
Everyone will have their own opnions about how this is worked out in life and we all try our best to take good care of our children while still looking after ourselves. It’s easy as a single person (or childless person) to have opinions about what this should look like, but only a mom (or perhaps a dad) can fully understand the very real struggle to figure out how to achieve that ellusive balance between motherhood and life in general.
The current wave of thinking has all of us moms wishing for more “me” – “me” time, “me” space, “me” hobbies, “me” spending money, “me” energy, and “me” focus.
Wouldn’t we rather just be sitting by the pool sipping cocktails?
But realistically, how much of this is really possible when you have children, young children in particular? And, even if possible, how much is actually healthy… and how much is actually selfish?
I realize that in writing this I run the risk of being offensive, or—at minimum—pushing some buttons. (Or perhaps just being misunderstood.) But I really do think that as easy as it is for us moms to become completely child-focused, it’s almost equally as easy to become entirely self-focused. (In other words, selfish.)
Let me ask you: how often do you spend fantasizing about a day alone? How often during your average day do you wish to trade in your mom title for something a little more glamorous? How often would you prefer to ignore the little voice under your feet begging “play with me!” when you’d rather be out for a coffee date/reading/watching tv/emailing/sun bathing/blogging/sipping cocktails/gardening/shopping/fill-in-the-blank?
I’m not talking about being an ungrateful mother here – nearly every mom on the planet is grateful to be a mom and wouldn’t trade that role for the world. And yet, even in our gratitude, when you boil it all down, most of us would just love for life to revlove around ourselves for a change.
There, I said it.
Sometimes I just want life to revlove around me.
I want to sleep when I want to sleep. I want to eat when I’m hungry, cook and clean when I’m inspired, and play when it’s fun. I want to rest when I’m weary, shop at my leisure, and be in control of the events of my day. I want to choose when to work, when to relax, when to space out, and when to engage my brain.
But when I chose to become a mom, I also chose a different path – a path that is not roomy enough for me to walk alone.
Being a mom means that life is no longer just about me. It requires sacrifice. It requires giving. It requires serving. It requires hard work and perseverance.
Yes, there are incredible joys and blessings and delights that—in my opinion—far outweigh the sacrifices. But to deny the need for sacrifice when it comes to motherhood is not very realistic… and it’s not benificial to anyone – our kids and ourselves included.
And… I really do believe it’s selfish.
Not all sacrifice is bad, so I’m wondering… just when exactly did we decide to make it a four letter word?
If I live with the mentality that I’m entitled to a sacrifice-free life, then my days and my responsibilities not only become an inconvenience, but they become a huge burden. I will begin to feel entitlement to things I supposedly “deserve” and resentful toward those who I actually love most (my family).
So how do we not lose ourselves in a sea of momness… while at the same time not allow ourselves to be sucked into the trap of self-entitlement either (which inevitably leads to resentment when things are not happening as we’d like or self-absorbption when they are)?
Is it possible to “have it all” – a balance between what’s best for your kids and what’s best for you personally, even apart from your kids? (Because a happier mom really does make for happier kids… doesn’t it?) And is it possible to not lose yourself in a “sea of momness” while at the same time joyfully sacrificing for the sake of your kids?
I believe I can “have it all” in a sense… but the details of that have to look different now than before kids entered the picture. I don’t believe my entire world should revolve around my children (which only teaches them to become selfish as well), but neither do I believe these little people should just jump into my world and adapt to all of my lifestyle desires and former routines. There has to be a give-and-take, and I for one would rather err on the side of giving than taking…
Now, if you’re asking me the 1-2-3’s of what that all looks like – forget about it! I have no forumula. (And if I did I’d be marketing it and making money off off it – ha!) But it’s not that simple. I’m trying to learn just as much as the next mom. Balance is elusive, time is fleeting, children are constantly changing, roles are ever demanding.
But I’m not sure we will ever learn unless we are intentionally trying to. This sort of thing doesn’t just fall into your lap.
This I do know – I don’t want my children to suffer on account of me pursuing me. Somehow, some way, it’s got to be possible for me to do what’s best for me while not compromising on the sacrifices and demands reqired in motherhood so that I can also do what’s best for them. That’s the only way that both my children and I will thrive.
So what does that look like? For me? For you? In general?
Dear friends, do you feel like you need more “me” time? If so, how do you do that without slipping into selfishness and entitlement? And what do you think? Do moms today have a “correct” view of sacrifice within the context of motherhood?
Katherine6 August 2011 at 12:44 am
Here’s a few of my thoughts, from a conversation with a mom of four boys last summer… She was saying that she spent the first few years sort of fighting it- working for “me” time, feeling frustrated about eating lukewarm dinners that should have been hot, elbowing out time for herself whenever she could. Then at some point (maybe after baby three) she said she just decided to “go with it”. Accept that this stage means lukewarm lunches and a lot of sacrifice. But that it won’t last forever and this is where she is– so just settle in and go with it, instead of fighting it.
I liked that perspective. It doesn’t mean I don’t jump at the chance for girl time away from the kids, but that (hopefully) I just go with this stage while we’re in it, instead of wishing it away for the days that will be here soon enough.
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos6 August 2011 at 8:31 pm
I like that too Katherine. I really, really do. There’s no doubt in my mind that on the days that I feel sorry for myself and lose perspective, I’m really fighting against myself and expending energy that I don’t even have. Relaxing into the sacrificial aspects of motherhood make the giving so much more joyful (when we aren’t “expecting” and demanding in return). I, like you, jump at the opportunity for “me” time, but I also realize that I just can’t (and don’t want to) live the way I did before children. I want my current reality – as tough as it sometimes is. Sounds like you have a very wise friend. Hopefully she’s there to encourage you when you need it too!
Branson6 August 2011 at 3:59 am
I think the comment above states what I was thinking better than I can! I have my own interests and when there is time for them I enjoy it. But my little man will only be little once, and I can’t imagine that when he is grown I will regret putting down a book/phone/camera/mouse to play with him. There will be plenty of time for me again in the blink of an eye… I want to fully enjoy this stage while it is here 🙂
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos6 August 2011 at 8:32 pm
So true. So true. I’m with you…. I just sometimes need reminding of that. 🙂
Courtney @ The Mommy Matters6 August 2011 at 4:29 am
I could definitely stand for some more “me time.” I don’t think there is anything WRONG with having me time. Like you said, if we don’t take time to get away and be ourselves without our children around, we grow to resent them and that doesn’t make for a great mom. I understand what Branson is saying about our children only being little once. I totally get that. But, there still has to be a balance. Because if there isn’t at least SOME moments of freedom in our schedules as mothers, are we really going to be able to enjoy the moments with our children?
Branson8 August 2011 at 3:02 am
Oh I definitely think it is important to have moments of freedom, and I do every day even if it just to blog or edit photos. I just don’t demand it or schedule it. For me, when I embraced the fact that motherhood is unpredictable and, yes, sacraficial I found that it is easier for me to feel balanced because it is less about me. When I start to feel out of balance or pressed for time, it is my hobbies that take the back burner and before I know it everything is back to normal – or as close to normal as WE ever get! 😉 My needs come second, and I am cool with that… but they come SECOND… not fifth, or tenth, or never. I really do recite this quote to mysalf at least once a day: If you haven’t time to respond to a tug at your pants leg, your schedule is too crowded. ~Robert Brault
Adriel12 August 2011 at 9:06 pm
yes, when i’m stretched thin my hobbies take a back burner too. (as evidenced by the sharp decrease in my blog posts and commenting since being pregnant with #2!!!!) but wow branson, i’m impressed that you don’t schedule it. i find that generally if i don’t schedule some “free” time, then it just never happens. granted, sometimes i probably don’t schedule it enough… but i do have to do that or else… nope, zilch, there’s always SOMETHING that needs to be “done”! 🙂
Kim6 August 2011 at 5:04 am
For the first two years that I was a mom I felt like I was fighting against this current. It kept trying to suck me down into all “momness” and I struggled against it, wanting me time. Then I finally understood that my time with my children is mom time and my time when I am alone (not very often) is completely my time, that I try hard to use that time just for me and not focusing on some aspect of being a mom or my children. That has helped. But it has also helped that I also realized that this is what I chose to do, to be, and I really want it. I think what made it hard for me for those first two years is that I went from being independent, using my brain in the work field, to being depended upon and not using my brain. I saw moms going back to work who seemed to get the best of both worlds (I know they struggle with almost the opposite feelings I had, wanting more time with their children), and I felt like I should have something for myself, too. It’s still a bit of a struggle for me to feel satisfied that I am getting enough ‘me’ time, but I definitely feel like I am not losing myself into being a mom only. I think being a new mom is overwhelming and losing ourselves to momness is almost like a survival mechanism 🙂
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos6 August 2011 at 8:37 pm
I agree Kim. I do think it’s “normal” for those first couple of years especially. And not entirely bad either. I guess it’s when *blink* 20 years have gone by and mom hasn’t taken anytime to nurture her own spirit and passions that you’d find yourself in a mess. And the reality is, it all changes so fast so often doesn’t it? What’s working for me right now is entirely different to what worked (balance-wise) six months ago, two years ago, or a year from now. We’ve got to be willing to grow and adapt along with our children. But I think you’re absolutely right – we’ve chosen to become mothers… so let’s do it whole-heartedly and drop the whining. Right? And in the meantime, let’s keep the discussion open and the ideas flowing for how to care for everyone in our little worlds… ourselves included. 🙂 Thanks for some great feedback.
Tiffany6 August 2011 at 3:23 pm
I’ve been noodling on your post all day, feeling like I might comment but not sure exactly what to say. I commented on your last post about the “sea of momness” saying that I was in a different season and not really feeling like I needed a lot of me time right now. Once I read the previous comments, I knew what has changed for me. I agree with Katherine, Branson and Kim. The thing that has changed has been time. I loved working part-time and craved more “me” time when my first child was younger. But after watching that time fly by and with the birth of my second, I settled into my life as mostly a mom. With my (almost) 5 year old and (almost) 2 year old, our days are busy but so rich. I never imagined I would love being a full-time SAHM but I do.
So not to say that I don’t ever have “me” time because I certainly do, but I don’t feel like I need it as much as I did my first was younger.
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos6 August 2011 at 8:44 pm
I think you’re onto something there. It really must have a lot to do with the initial adjustment into motherhood. I have lots of moments where I’m working (even only minimally) and I don’t want to be. And still others when I just want to “get some work done!” I think I’ve found as good a mix as I can for the moment… but it’s not perfect, that’s for sure. And who knows how it will change with number two. I know one thing for sure – I don’t want to waste or squander or resent this time with young children, no matter how demanding and tiring it is. I can think of nothing sadder than looking back over these years and wishing I had been more whole-hearted about them. Horrible thought. There is nothing, literally nothing, that would convince me to trade in my time here at home for something else. (Unless I absolutely had no choice in the matter… but that’s another issue entirely.) I can think of no greater privilege than being home with Levi. Some days I just need a gentle reminder, other days I need a strong reminder, but mostly I remember that on my own. 🙂
Rachel6 August 2011 at 4:28 pm
I could stand for some more ‘sleep’ time!!! I’m so torn about Baby time vs. Me time vs. Husband time. Its been a lot harder for me to give up myself and my body than I anticipated. If there is one thing I’ve discovered about myself, it’s that my love language isn’t physical touch! But it IS only for a season…and everyday I think how I wish he would just slow down on this growing up thing that he’s so intent on. And when I hold him, asleep in my arms, everything is suddenly worth it!!!
But I seriously can’t wait till he finally sleeps through the night…
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos6 August 2011 at 8:48 pm
Oh wow, I hope he sleeps through the night soon. Seriously!!! That really is a hard one. I understand out the body thing too. I never realized how demanding it really is to “belong” to someone else. Yes, you experience that in marriage, but then having children (especially if you breastfeed) takes that to a whole new level!!! I certainly wouldn’t trade it in, but it has made me think about “laying down my life” in a very literal way – more so than ever before. I’m still learning, but I’m also aware that I can lay my life down freely or begrudgingly… and true peace and deep joy are only available with one of those options. 🙂
Here’s hoping and praying you can ALL sleep through the night SOON!
Kim7 August 2011 at 2:16 pm
I love finding a post that I come back to read again! And this is one of them. It really resonated with me, and the comments here, the discussion gives me additional insight too! I love your writing and blog 🙂 I think during the first two years of being a new mom, when I got lost in the world of it, I was kind of freaked out by the question of “who am I going to be when my girls are old enough to leave home?” I don’t want to wait until then to have my own ‘stuff’ (career, personal time, hobbies, etc) going for me. I worried that if I didn’t keep my head above water and maintain something for myself, then I’d not know what to do with myself 20 years from now. But like you said, it’s a constantly changing thing, what’s working for me now is definitely different from the past. And blogging sure is a big help in how I change and grow over time! So thank you again for this post! This idea has been on my mind a lot as I think about my third daughter’s upcoming birth in November and I am hoping this time I won’t feel so lost in being a mom.
Adriel12 August 2011 at 9:09 pm
Hmmm, that’s an interesting insight – that maybe it’s the “i need to keep my head above water” that can actually turn into a fear (and fear is never good, right?). Some good food for thought there – thanks Kim.
And yes, don’t I have awesome and wise readers? I love the comments too. I learn so much from all of you women!!
Micheline9 August 2011 at 4:27 am
I’ve been thinking about this post, as well as a couple of others from the past couple of days, that have really resonated with me. Obviously we’re in a similar season of our lives, what with parenting a toddler and awaiting the arrival of our 2nd babies. It’s all too easy to get bogged down by the hardships and the sacrifices we are making. But I completely agree with your sentiments. We have chosen to be moms and this is the time when our kids’ needs should come first. Finding the perfect balance is never easy, but I think it is the healthiest way to parent. To find moments for ourselves, to see the importance of our passions and how positive that is for our kids to see as well.
holy flippin moly. it sure was a wild ride. « The Mommyhood Memos30 December 2011 at 1:22 pm
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