Just because I can, does it mean I should?
This is a question I ask myself on a regular basis, if I don’t want all my hair to turn gray or chew off my fingernails that is. I think we can all agree that “Momming” is freakin’ hard. Compound it with all the things we CAN do…. Well, it gets more than overwhelming. It’s a 100’ wave crashing on a beach when you’re a baby turtle. You may not get crushed but you are going to be spinning all over the place while trying to find the right side up.
I’ve raised three kids to adulthood. My last one is a month shy of his eighteenth birthday. Here’s what I’ve learned;
There’s a time and a place for everything.
And, Sometimes the very best thing we can do for ourselves is let something go.
“Sacrifice” is “Mom’s” middle name. It starts when they are infants. We give up sleep, showers, hairless legs, sneezing without the fear of peeing, plucking our chin hairs on a regular basis, and changing our clothes every day. Oh yeah, we also give up sex because, let’s be honest, when the choice is sex or sleep, new mamas are going to choose dreamland. As our babies turn into toddlers we continue (as if there’s anything left!) to give up pooping in peace, eating adult food without chubby fingers grabbing for it, drinking water minus kid floaties, and spreading out in our own bed. Sleep and sex can still be high on this list without careful planning. But it’s worth it when we see them laugh in glee and snuggle up with an “I wuv you Mommy.” Heart melt. Right?
Grade school hits. Yay! Maybe we get bathroom time but we lose time everywhere else. Do you read? Not anymore. Now it’s Dr. Seuss and Captain Underpants on the Adventure of the Terrible Toilet! Our nights are spent baking brownies for the school fundraiser (or stopping at the store on the way to school and getting that shit store bought. Let’s be real.), or standing in front of a grocery store all weekend trying to hustle cookies and candy bars. It’s soccer practice, baseball practice, gymnastics, and building a Mission that seems like cruel and unusual punishment – for the parent.
Don’t even get me started on Junior High and High School. They are bigger now but they also have friends and a social calling that is animalistic. They are now pack-people and you are the driver of the pack. This is actually a blessing because even though the chatter is constant; you get to hear everything that is happening. Note to mamas who have infants – you want to be the pack driver. It makes you crazy but also crazy-happy. You are in their life! Score.
What’s the loss here? TIME. What’s the gain? Also TIME.
I had my kid’s super young. My dream of college and becoming a counselor or probation officer was placed on an indefinite hold. I made attempts at Junior College. I’d take two classes a semester and I LOVED it. School has always been my jam. Give me an “A”! A!!! But, after a time, I found it wasn’t sustainable. Not for me. I would become distracted and instead of doing anything really well, I found myself scattered and doing it all halfway. Even though my husband helped so much with the cooking and cleaning and driving – he couldn’t pay attention to their stories for me. He couldn’t answer when they asked ME a question. I can’t tell you how many times my answer was, “What? I’m sorry honey, can you say that again?” It got to the point they would roll their eyes and stop asking. Their step-dad would know all the details of their lives but I was constantly trying to figure out who was who and what was happening.
My kids would have events on nights I had class and I would find myself constantly choosing – them or me. Them or me. Them or me. Them? Or me?
One night I sat down and said, “I can’t do this anymore.” It was hard to say. I had always been under the impression I could do anything if I wanted to badly enough. And the bottom line was, I could, but did I want to? Like this? That was a hard No.
Even though I saw other moms doing it without batting a perfectly mascared eye – it wasn’t me. I didn’t want to miss anything. I didn’t want to be distracted. I had been sacrificing since day 1. This was not the time to start sacrificing them; them for me.
This blog isn’t to encourage you to stop chasing a dream or stay out of school or give up that promotion. We are all different and we all make the decisions we think are best for us and our family. Mine was to sacrifice school and the career I had always wanted. It was important to me to be present. I didn’t grow up with my mom like that. She missed so many things and I missed having her there for them. Every piece of my heart wanted that with my own kids.
Every now and then I feel a twinge. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little envious of the work some of my friends are doing in the very field I was drawn to. But if I never felt a twinge, would it really be a sacrifice?
Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.
And just because it’s a sacrifice doesn’t mean it has to be a burden.
My daughters are out of the house now, chasing their own dreams. Our relationships are more than I hoped for. I get texts almost daily. Phone calls when something is wrong. Pictures of blistered feet from hiking and baby boogers they had to pick. It’s completely disgusting and also absolutely perfect. I’ve watched more You-Tube videos with my son, of people falling and hurting themselves, while we laugh hysterically, than you can possibly imagine.
It’s ok if we have to let go. Sometimes the sacrifice gives us the very best of our world.
Xo Shannon Wasser