Don't Let Go, Mama

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Sacrifice - the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

Self-Sacrifice - sacrifice of one's interests, desires, etc., as for duty or the good of another.

Let’s face it, sacrifice, is family work.  It’s asked of all of us at one time or another. We sacrifice our time, our routine, our jobs, our outings, our toys (hello siblings!), the quantity of our sex life, the quality of our sex life, our car (goodbye convertible with the nice rims!), the type of vacations we take (its been real, Vegas!), and maybe even our neighborhood (think, suburbs). Some would argue mom’s make more than their fair share of sacrifices. Some would tout this as a source of pride, other, a source of woe.

Rather than focus on the things we all already know we have given up for the good of another because their life is a more pressing claim, I’d like to focus on what we should not give up. And if we have – encourage us all to take it back.

Our dreams.

Mama’s. I wish I could hug you tight for this one. I’m not sure what you dreamed about as a kid, or a teenager, or a young adult, or yesterday, for that matter. Maybe you wanted to be a doctor or a police woman or a painter. Maybe you wanted to travel. Maybe you wanted to write. Maybe you wanted to be a probation officer and now, there’s just not enough time. Maybe you always wanted to be a MOM and now that you are, you wonder if you are very good at it. Mama. Those of you that went to school for your dream, those that studied and crammed and gave up endless parties and more than a few dates. Those that worked through tedious, mind-numbing, minimum wage jobs. Those that left their families, their hometown, and everyone you knew. Those that started their family and read the right books and follow the parenting blogs and still think you are drowning ….

I see you.

I see the effort and the sacrifice. I see the pride in your accomplishments. I see the guilt of wanting to let go. I see the guilt of wanting to hold on. I see your uncertainty. I see you wondering if it was all for nothing. I see you asking if you will be like your mother. I see you asking why it has to be you.

Mama. I hope you hear me now. I hope you read this over and over until it takes hold in your soul. It’s ok to let go. It’s ok to get a new dream. It’s ok to say, “I did that and now I am going to do this.” It’s ok to try something new. It’s ok if your life is not turning out the way you planned. It rarely does. But that doesn’t mean it is any less meaningful or beautiful or right for right now.  The point is – make sure you DO get a new dream. Don’t let go of the old one and think that’s all there is for you. No, mama. No. You can have a thousand dreams. And if that sounds exhausting, you can have ten. The point is, you get to choose. You are created with talents you may not even know you have yet. There are interests in you that are undiscovered. Go discover them. Let it make you warm. Give yourself something new to talk about, have a passion for, and teach it to your kids.  Life is never a straight line. It is a messy doodle. And Mama, messy doodles are fun.

Our body.

Mama’s. This is the one that makes us uncomfortable. We can be more than a little condemning to others, but really, we are brutal to ourselves. Let’s try hard not to do that. Let’s be gentle with ourselves and also, light a fire under our booty. I’m not just talking about our jean size. Our body includes our head and our heart. We go about as if these things are separate, working on their own, but no, everything ties together. What is happening to our body affects our head. What rattles around in our head affects our heart – and you better believe, if our heart is feeling beat down and despaired, our body will be too.  Here’s what I want you to know, Mama.

You are a PRIORITY.

Yes, you are.

You get to come first, too.

You are worth a 30 -minute workout. You are worth feeling strong and exhilarated. You are worth paying a little more for real food. You are worth a babysitter so you can run outside or take a yoga class. You are worth being the strongest, healthiest, YOU, you can be. There’s a reason why airlines tell you during the in-flight safety talk to put your oxygen mask on first, then to the little one. Take care of yourself first or everyone will suffer.

I wish I had known this when my babies were small. No one encouraged me to take care of myself then. They would say things like, “Oh stop – you just had a baby.”

You have two kids!

You have three kids!

And all the while, I felt unhappy and sloppy and tired. Next thing I knew, all my kids were teenagers. And I still felt unhappy and sloppy and tired with myself.

A few years back, I started exercising consistently. Not because I love it, mind you, but because I love how I feel AFTER I do. Which does make me love it a little. I feel happy. And strong. And all the bad voices in my head shut up for twenty-four hours until I do it all over again. Good for my body. Good for my mind. Good for my heart. I don’t look a whole lot different but I feel amazing. And damn it, that’s important to me. I hope it is important to you to. You are so worth it.

I believe in you, Mama. I believe in me. I believe we can do hard things. I believe when the going gets tough, everyone looks to mom. We are capable and strong and smart and brave and helpful and caring and passionate – and we do this for our family over and over and over again. Let’s do it for ourselves.  

XO

Shannon