The days of sleeping in until 8am on a weekend and having a day with nowhere to go, are a distant memory for most mums.
How well I remember those weekends and I just wish I’d been more grateful for them. Little did I know I wouldn’t see days like those again for well… actually, with three girls under five, I’m still not sure when I will get those days back. Maybe when my children are grown and have moved out of home. Yep, I’m planning my next sleep-in for approximately 20 or so years in the future.
If there was one thing I wish I did before having children, it would be to feel more grateful for the freedoms of living for myself alone.
It sounds selfish, I know. But I don’t think I comprehended back then just how much having children would change my life. Obligation and responsibility took over the moment my first baby was laid on my chest. I instantly realised that life as I knew it was about to fundamentally change — no, wait, it already had. Expectations needed to altered and sacrifices needed to be made in order to raise my child. Sacrifices that couldn’t even be comprehended until I became a mum.
As soon as I had my first baby, I realised my time was no longer my own. That free time I enjoyed on a weekend? Consumed whole by a baby who would require my attention every single day, weekend or not. I was always alert for that next cry, even when asleep, ready to jump up and work out whether her cry was from hunger or for comfort. Most times both.
As my baby grew into a toddler, we added two more to our family and suddenly, my life was dominated by daughters who didn’t understand personal space or the need for ‘me time’ of my own. I was too busy attending to my girls’ 24/7 ‘me time’, but really, this was the least of my problems.
The sacrifices a mother makes on a daily basis are seemingly endless. Some I don’t bat an eyelid to, but others can be downright hard to work through. For many mums like myself, those sacrifices may include:
- Taking a job that is flexible. So we can balance the demands of family life, when we really wanted a different job that didn’t offer the same flexibility.
- Going back to a job we don’t like to simply to cover the extra costs of having a family.
- Not working at all because childcare affordability issues make it not worth the time and effort to earn the measly amount left after the deductions are made.
- The changes to our body – weight gain, stretch marks, saggy boobs. Need I go on?
- Giving up our sleep. Some mums can’t remember the last time they slept for 8 hours straight.
- Spending money on swimming lessons, instrument tutoring, sports dues, etc instead of that new dress we’ve had our eye on.
- Ferrying the kids to a friend’s party or all over town to lessons when we just want to curl up on the couch and read a book.
- Watching our kid play sport on early weekend mornings, instead of stealing some extra time in bed.
- Staying at home on a much anticipated date night, because our child is sick.
- Staying up all night with your sick child because they only want Mummy.
- Going to work after being up all night with our sick kid because all your sick leave has been taken up from caring for their sick siblings.
- Doing the washing, ironing and folding rather than reading the next chapter of a book we are loving.
- Mothering when we’re really sick because kids still need to be fed and cared for.
I could go on and on, but I know you get it. Big or small, the sacrifices we make can seem endless. Motherhood is a daily battle to not lose ourselves in the demands of family life.
Yet there is one thing I have learned as I wrestle my conflicting needs of self and obligation and it’s this: Every time we put our children first, a remarkable transformation happens in our lives. We no longer live for ourselves and selfishness is replaced with big-heartedness.
I’m a better Rebecca, because of my daughters.
My children have humbly revealed my limits just as they have stretched my generosity and patience. My kids have uncovered my weaknesses and exposed all my secrets.My children have brought out the best in me, but they’ve also revealed the worst, which has been powerful, yet humbling. Knowing the worst parts of myself has enabled me to work on myself to be a better person.
If you want to enrol in the best personal development course around, have children.
If, like me, you’re finding motherhood hard and the obligations stressful and overwhelming, remind yourself that the sacrifices you make each and every day are not for nothing. Try not to allow the hardships of being a mother cloud your head with negativity. You may only see your emotional shortcomings and the things you’re missing out on, but understand they are part of your development and are turning you into someone greater than the person you were before you chose to have kids.
Our kids are simply the best self-help manual we’ll ever find.