What Self-Sacrifice Has Given Me

The start of a new year is a time to set intentions. To look back at what you did and who you were in the year prior, and to evaluate the outcome of how your daily choices and habits affected your overall quality of life. Before becoming a mom, my New Year intentions were often self-centered: exercise more, eat fewer sweets, declutter my apartment, and pay down student loans. I always started out strong, but year after year, I fell back into my old ways. I never felt that the returns on my New Year intention investments were high enough. Losing a few pounds was never worth the 4:00 gym alarm or the daily salad without dressing. My apartment was cozy and my loans were going away at a responsibly reasonable rate. So, I always abandoned those investments. The sacrifices just weren’t worth it.  I was comfortable with the way things were, so I never realized the “new year, new me” mantra so many envision each January. I was comfortable enough with old me. As the entrepreneur and investor Robert Arnott said, “In investing, what is comfortable is rarely profitable.”

2016 was different. It was a year of highly profitable, rarely comfortable investments. I birthed a baby boy early in the year and for this boy I have sacrificed it all, from daily showers to solo bathroom trips. Uncomfortable is one word that would aptly describe how I felt for most of 2016. From labor, to sore nipples, to my many sleepless nights, I was uncomfortable. From wearing too-tight pre-pregnancy jeans, to sweating as I squished a squirmy baby into a fleece bunting, to inviting other moms for coffee in a desperate attempt to make new friends, I was uncomfortable. I exclusively nursed for the first six months of his life despite his tongue and lip ties and my issues with oversupply and engorgement. I cried into jars of nipple cream and saw 3 different lactation consultants, adamant to realize the high return of my investment in breastfeeding. I overcame worries about nursing in public, since the return meant healthy growth and development.  I gave up many (nay, most) of my preconceived notions about baby rearing once I invested in what my high needs baby so clearly needed: bedsharing, naps across my chest, lots and lots and lots of time spent babywearing. At 10 months old, he still wakes up several times each night. And I am invested in nighttime parenting, because the return is the ultimate: a happy, comfortable, sweet little boy who knows he can always find warmth and comfort in my arms.

Alas, as I reflect on this year that has passed quicker than any other in my life, I know I finally realized the “new year, new me” concept. Here’s the thing: New Me isn’t even close to the “better me” I had always set out, and always failed, to become. New Me isn’t thinner or fitter than Old Me. She isn’t better rested or meditating, and she certainly hasn’t kicked her sweet tooth (in fact, New Me loves to grab a pint of Ben & Jerry’s from the freezer after nursing her baby to sleep). New Me is still dreaming of decluttering and still playing the lottery to get rid of those student loans. New Me is super uncomfortable, all the time. But remember what that investor said? What is comfortable is rarely profitable. And I can assure you, as I sit here in my year-old holey maternity leggings with my 4-day old hair, my profits in 2016 were off the charts. The return on all the investments in my life before 2016 pale in comparison to those of this past year. In setting my intentions for 2017, I hope to manifest again all the discomfort I felt in 2016 if it brings me even a fraction of the profits. The constant self-sacrifice wore on me for sure, but the resulting joys that emerged assured me the sacrificial investments more than worth it.

How do you think evaluating your personal self-sacrifice return on investment could be useful for transitioning into the new year? Are there ways in which self-sacrifice in motherhood has impacted you for better or for worse?  Let us know in the comments below your thoughts and feelings on the subject.