I once had a friend say to me, "One does not need to be a mom to understand the term sacrifice."
I recall listening to her and nodding, albeit, it was my pre-motherhood days. I wasn't completely convinced, but it sounded right at that time. After all, I definitely had my share of first-world problems — my parents had declared bankruptcy, so I worked a full-time job as a full-time student while moonlighting in the evenings.
My graduate school commute ran from one side of Chicago to the other, which is a pretty far drive, and weekends were spent volunteering at both church and in my community.
I pretty much gave up all possibility of a social life in my 20s to get ahead in school and in my career. I was actually proud of my overloaded, sleep-deprived schedule. It made me feel as though I was accomplishing something. I was known as the girl who was always too busy, and I depended on coffee for fuel. I thought I knew then what sacrifice looked like.
Then, I got married. Life changed a bit. One year later, I officially became a mom to a beautiful baby boy, and well, life changed dramatically. Sleepless nights, sore nipples, diaper changes, shrieking cries and a marriage solely focused on keeping this little infant alive and healthy. What had I signed up for? I was bitter, tired and resentful that no one had shared this darker side of motherhood with me. The daily sacrifices were so painfully real — mentally, emotionally and physically. I recalled my friend's aforementioned thoughts on sacrifice, and I scoffed aloud to myself.
Eighteen months later, we welcomed our second child into the world, a baby girl. Let's just say this excruciating birth experience thankfully produced one of my most rewarding bundles of joy and kindness. Of course, as mothers do, I blissfully put the birth experience behind me, got pregnant and brought our third child into the world just three years later. During this event, I remember thinking to myself, "Do no ever forget this pain. Do not have another baby." Child labor is just the beginning of the sacrifices we make, christening you as a mother.
Now, I must fast forward twenty years — motherhood is the most rewarding job I have ever applied for. I had no training, but was hired. Rising to the occasion with no experience, I looked to my mother, the skills and love she shared with me, and I innately have and continue to work every day to raise my kids with love and patience, just as my mom did for me. The thing is, sacrifice teaches you about grit, self-denial, patience, loss and most of all love. This opportunity called motherhood strips us down, allowing for sacrifice and growth on a path to becoming a better human, and not just for ourselves, but in the fullness of time for those we love most.
As we enter into our ninth week of shelter-in-place here in San Francisco, I realize that perspective is one of the paradoxical gifts of tragedy, and so much of parenting is about our attitude and perspective. Let us be patient with ourselves, as we navigate our way through this uncharted territory together with our families. Love on and lead your kids during this time. Be purposeful with each day's events, spending quality time with your children.
My three kids are wonderful, and they are fearfully created by God — each of them unique like their fingerprints. As a family, we sit down for dinner each night and afterwards we unplug and share, read or pray for one another with the understanding that our Christianity grounds us all. This intentional, quality time together is what allows us to maintain a positive perspective, ultimately recognizing each minute, hour, day, week, month and all of these years as a gift.
The very nature of motherhood may be sacrifice, but what a privilege and joy it is to have the opportunity to love and train my children to be upright young men and women in society, and eventually winning them over as my lifelong friends.
Together, may we honor mothers today: ourselves, our mothers, their mothers and those mothers who surround and support us. Let this not just be an annual gesture, but a renewed appreciation for making every day a Mother's Day.