Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Sacrifice"

It seems like fate (destiny? God?) has led me lately to a lot of places where I've read things about women, especially moms, and their dreams and goals.

I was reading someone's personal bio and it said this:

I like to think of myself as a strong woman, which means I didn't sacrifice my education or any of my goals, and I still have a family and a career.

What does that mean? It is hard for me to remain unbiased when I read that, considering I chose to stay home with my kids and put off my career for the time being. But does that mean I'm weak? Funny, all this time I actually thought *I* was strong because I made a sacrifice of myself and my own wishes so that the family could benefit. The same could be said about me as I have agreed to move from place to place (6 different homes - in 5 different cities - in the last 11 years) so that my husband could pursue his dreams and make a better life for us.

It is a delicate balance, no? Deciding what is an acceptable amount of sacrifice. Because, let's face it, our partners do their fair share of sacrificing too. But, if you have a good solid marriage, your spouse probably doesn't keep a list of every time they've made a sacrifice for your benefit, nor do they rub your nose in it when they have to give up some little part of themselves in order to let you shine.

I guess that's the only thing that keeps me from feeling like a martyr every single day: believing that my acts of unselfishness are not completely unreciprocated. Because if you've ever had the argument with your mate that goes, "Well I did this for you!" "Well *I* did that for YOU!!" "Well I never got a thank you!!" "Well I didn't know you needed one!!!" then you know not to go down that road again.

The life of a mom (Stay-at-home or Working, it doesn't matter) is a rough job... living the life of a person who does for everyone else out of love. The true desire should be to do all these acts out of love - turning the socks right side out, making the chocolate milk, getting up in the middle of the night when it's your husband's turn, searching for lost keys and mates to shoes and library cards. But am I the only one who gets exhausted if no one ever says "Thank you Mama" or "Honey that was really great" or "I need you"? I'd love to be that person who is willing to sacrifice her personal time for no benefit other than seeing my family happy. In reality, though, I need my ego stroked occasionally.

One of my very favorite bloggers, the Domestiquette, recently wrote this:

For nine years I’ve pushed down my every ambition for the sake of raising my children full-time. It’s a sacrifice but it’s also a very handy excuse. There’s no real time to try anything else, so no opportunity to fail. I’m a domestic failure, for sure, but you know – I’m raising children! – so how could I possibly have time to keep the house clean all the time?

Do I have any ambition left to do anything? Do I want what I wanted nine years ago, or something completely different? Or do I want to make a life of gardening and cooking and keeping the laundry totally caught up all the time and posting dumb things about it here?

Which brings me back to that nagging question in the back of my mind that's been there for almost 10 years, when I gave birth to Peppermint Patty: Is this it? Is there more to life than this? Or am I missing the excitement right now, searching for something bigger that isn't really there? By being a stay-at-home mom, what am I sacrificing? Because if I weren't a SAHM, would I be out there flying around the world in a hot air balloon, or raising millions of dollars for breast cancer research, or competing in a triathalon? Really? Is what I'm missing really THAT much better than being a mom?

And - this is the big question - does this mean I've given up on my goals? What were my goals anyway? Have I lowered my standards? Is that the definition of "being realistic"?

I'm not saying it is, and I'm not saying it isn't. I'm saying I don't know, and that's so frustrating.

12 comments:

Anna See said...

yeah. um, well, i don't know. you just asked the same questions i ask myself regularly. so, while i don't have any answers, you can be assured you are not alone in these wonderings.

i do think life is short, in the scheme of things. i don't mean we have to run out and suck the marrow out of life, because life is so short. i mean life is temporary. we will not be completely fulfilled in this life even if we are sailing around the world in a hot air balloon-- or holding 2 jobs-- or prancing our gorgeous bods around in a bikini.

xo

McVal said...

I'm kind of a stay at home mom... My office is in the garage... But I am out here 40 hours a week. The kids know where I am and can get me in a pinch. They're older now so they don't need me all the time.
At my last job, I was away from them until after school. I really didn't know what I was missing.
I don't think you've given up your goals. It's more a shift in how you think when you have children. Your goals are more centered than they were before kids and more important. Your goals before maybe were selfish and not thought through all the way. Now they're refined.
Wow - is that gibberish or what? My new goal is to take a writing course! with my kids...

Jennifer said...

I don't think that it is the goal that makes you strong, it is the strength you show in achieving that goal. One of your goals has been to stay at home with your children, and you've managed to do that. If your goals change that doesn't make you weak. Everyone changes. Strength has more to do with how you deal with life, not what you achieve in it.

Em said...

Wow, I think that's a question just about every mom debates. Or at least the ones I know.

Is the grass really greener?

Is it human nature to want something you don't have? A basic desire/instinct that kept us alive in the past?

I think happiness is found in how you handle the things that are thrown at you - goals have to adapt. And I'm with you, once you start keeping score, the game is done.

Excellent post.

the BLAH BLAH BLAHger said...

Stopping by from SITS to say GREAT POST...certainly thought provoking. And ya know what...I'm a 32-year old single gal who can't wait for Mr. Right so I can give up my fancy career for a life as a SAHM...that's MY ultimate goal. This career of mine is keeping me from the excitement I desire. Funny, huh?!

ItsKelly said...

Great post! I don't have kids, but it's my goal right now. I can't think of anything I want more. I think being a mom is the best job in the world, and I can't wait for it to happen.

Natalie said...

well, that bio definition of strong woman is not my definition of strong woman! i think a strong woman is willing to make sacrifices... willing to serve... and willing to be humble about it. i don't think i am there, you know, where i could call myself a "strong woman" but i am really trying to improve myself and the world around me day in and day out... does that count?

great post.

Kacie said...

You know, I just found your blog via somewhere... who knows where, and I love it. I just subscribed.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I'll be honest--the quote seems a bit 'self-centered'--there are sacrifices we make every day regardless if we work or stay at home. If we work, we sacrifice time away from our children and if we stay home we sacrifice our career. There's no one 'right' solution--it's just all what works best.
Such a thought provoking post!

Bridgett said...

Lisa's right. It isn't strong. It's self centered. There were better ways to say it. It's almost like she's trying to convince herself she made the right choice (perhaps she did; sounds to me like she's got a big ole chip on her shoulder).

I try not to let "I'm a stay at home mom raising my kids" get in the way of things I want to do, but I do sometimes. I have to remind myself, often, that if I were working, the whole house would fall apart. If I taught??? Give me a break! On the other hand, I also have to remind people who aren't SAHMs that I actually do something during the day. OTherwise you get trampled on. But that's another story.

Get Real Girl said...

Stopping by from SITS and I am so glad that I did. I was a working mom and now am a SAHM. I know what it takes to do both and neither are easy. It was very difficult for me to decide to stay home because I had fears of never getting back into the workforce at the level I was at when I left. Now that I have been home for three years, I still have goals, they are just very different. Thanks so much for writing this post. It really hits home for me today!

Emily said...

I've asked myself those questions so many times. I always seem to come up with different answers. I don' think there's an easy answer, but IMHO it all come back down to finding a balance and ultimately what's best for your children, which (again IMHO) is not necessarily what's best for the mom.