I think sometimes we sacrifice for all of the wrong reasons. It may start out as something we did with the purest intentions, but then it slowly becomes an act we HAVE to continue to do because we believe it’s expected of us. In order for others to think highly of us, we must continue this sacrifice even if it means we’re slowly becoming resentful or numb to the actual act of service we first dedicated ourselves to.
Maybe I’m alone in feeling this way, but I know that in the past I have dedicated myself to some kind of project or task, something that meant sacrificing my time, money, patience and probably a lot more that my memory has chosen to block out, only to end up with an unhealthy balance in my life that tipped the “sacrifice” into the “tiring obligation” category of my to-do list.
That’s not fair to anyone. Not the people you are trying to encourage and not your own tired and creative soul.
Being a parent is a whole lifetime of sacrificing. In the beginning we sacrifice sleep and clothes void of snot and drool. We sacrifice nostrils free of the perfume of poop and ears at peace with the sound of silence. We sacrifice money that could be spent on ourselves!!!! And weekends and adventures to this thing called “nap time.” We do all of this because we want to, because we look at our little loves as they screech in anger over the butter knife you took away and you can’t help but think they still look freaking adorable with their little angry face.
We sacrifice all of this and more because the reward that we get in return is so much greater – little hands waving hello to you as you come home from work, eyes big with wonder and excitement when they see Donald Duck in person at Disneyland, little bodies sinking into your arms before bedtime, the big kisses before they fall asleep.
Being a parent is a whole lifetime of rewards. But I never want my children to think that in order to be the best parent, you have to sacrifice who you are and get lost in the demands for their every desire. Being a parent also means teaching these little people how to grow up to be the most loving, wise, and energetic leaders full of compassion and passion for beauty and joy. And in order to teach this, we must live it first.
So I’ll sacrifice my life for these babies, but I’ll also set boundaries for myself. I’ll fill up my tank with exercise and books, drives with the windows down and good music, hikes in the great outdoors and movies in my cozy home. Play dates with my friends and our kids but date nights with my husband and separate date nights with my friends and no kids. Saturday morning soccer games with the family and Sunday afternoon quiet coffee dates with myself.
I’ll do all of this and more because when I do it I feel the most alive and when I feel the most alive, I have the capacity to sacrifice and give my life to others. And truly give, not half-hearted and tired and reaching for the distraction of my phone giving, but the kind of sacrifice that’s full of joy and energy and more “feeling alive” moments that fuel the sacrifice to keep going.