Motherhood- A Daily Lesson in Sacrifice

(Warning- this post might get a little religious- so if that isn't your bag, run away now.)

The other day the husband asked me about sacrifice. He was supposed to teach a lesson on it at church and said he doesn't know what to say. He was wondering why we are supposed to sacrifice without expecting anything in return.

It almost made me laugh that he really had no idea where to go with this thought.

I really think that any mother worth her salt could give a lesson on sacrifice with no preparation and no books and no research. Why?- Because to be a good mother is a daily lesson in sacrifice.

Sometimes it seems almost unfair that women are expected to give so much to their families and those around them every day and expect nothing in return. I will show my bias here, so feel free to disagree ardently. But it seems that a man who sacrifices for those around him is seen as weak, while a woman is expected to do this.

A mother will give her body for months to her child. It will be forever changed. She will give every waking and sleeping moment to her children for years on end. She will sacrifice for her husband and family. She will sacrifice even her ambitions, her career and her education, at least for a time, in order to best serve her family.

I once thought this was unfair, that I felt a need to sacrifice the things I wanted while my husband seemed able, and even encouraged, to be better, get smarter, and grow more. Meanwhile I would bask in the bitterness of dishes, mopping, and dirty diapers.

Now, sometimes, through the haze of patience, mud, and tears I see the blessing that it is to be able, and even expected, to sacrifice.

Simply put, it brings me closer to my Maker. He who created us and sent us to this life did so out of love and sacrifice. To be blessed to also create life, and then to spend years giving with no expectation of anything in return, will unfailingly bring us closer to Him. It will teach us daily what it means to love, to give, to work, and yes, to sacrifice. It helps us not just to understand God better, but to be more like Him.

There are many times when I have felt bitterness that I, (and I will admit my prideful streak here) an intelligent woman, should spend my daily life enthroned not on a pile of books, but a pile of laundry. Why must I (I have wondered) feel compelled to push my husband through graduate school while I babysit for extra money and wait, probably for many many years, for my turn?

I don't feel bitter any more. I feel grateful. I am grateful that the eternal principle of sacrifice is part of my daily life. I understand it. I love it. I live it. I see why my Savior expects me to sacrifice. I understand why He would sacrifice for me, because I would willingly do the same for my children.

What may initially seem an advantage to men, the encouragement, license, and worldly pat on the back for focusing on themselves and their ambitions, is not, from an eternal perspective. Those who choose not to sacrifice daily for those around them will find the principle of sacrifice difficult to understand.

To be a good mother is to daily live the law of sacrifice. It is not a burden, but a blessing. It is quietly hidden behind the mundane, but it is there none the less.

What a blessing to be a mother. How grateful I am to be able to give to those around me, to sacrifice my time and energy and talents, not for reward, but for family. How beautiful to be handed daily personal purification while those from outside only see the burdens.

I am grateful to be a mother and for the refining fire that it is to my soul.


Krista Eger said…
With the rise of feminism, we're pressured into thinking that we have to be equal. I think the feminist movement definitely has it's good side and bad side. One bad thing is that we now our economy relies on both the mother and the father to have jobs when I think that at least one parent should stay home whether it be the mom or the dad I think a child needs that, but that's beside the point. It's great that we have equal rights, but I also believe that if you want to be a traditional mother that has a different role than the father that shouldn't be looked down on either. I'm guessing by the fact that your husband was preparing a church lesson on sacrifice that we're probably the same religion...just guessing here (and because you used the word eternal haha). :D But because I am the religion I am I love sacrificing for them because I believe they are the purest spirits and it is my honor to bring them in this world. My body is temporary, but my family is eternal :D. It's definitely not always easy to sacrifice the way we do, but it is rewarding!
I also feel like giving birth naturally was a sacrifice. I didn't do it because I wanted some reward, I did it because I wanted my daughter to enter this world the way Heavenly Father set it up to happen. Like BWF pointed out in one of her posts, the veil is thin for our little ones and you wouldn't want to rip them away from that before they are ready! That's not our choice to make! Although I do believe that modern medicine was inspired because sometimes that choice does need to be made. Just not most of the time! :D
Living Lavallee said…
I once heard Lonn Buckley explain that sacrifice is giving up something, for something better. So, yes, you (we) are giving up further education and career options, but ultimately what we're getting is so much more than that.
Mrs. G said…
You won't get any disagreement here. :-) I think we are blessed to give ourselves in service for things eternal. I would a hundred times rather give myself this way than for material things that fade away. We live/believe in Patriarchy but there's nothing ugly about it when it's based on both partners following God's direction. My husband has self sacrificing love for all of us and it's beautiful to see. The more I honor and respect him, the more he loves me. I am a blessed women!
Cherylyn said…
What a lovely post, and a really poignant reminder. We had Stake Conference yesterday and one of the speakers talked about honoring women and recognizing our strengths. When I get caught up in the daily grind I have to remind myself often that the work I do as a mother raising my children is the most important work I will do in my entire lifetime. That helps me keep my perspective.
mommyto6 said…
Love this post! I love all of your posts, but I'm happy to see you open up and show a bit of your personal spiritual side as well. I have had to remind myself over and over that Jesus' whole life was sacrifice ending in the ultimate one! I do think we mothers do have a little more insight on what that really means. As much as my husband does sacrifice to work six days a week right now for us, I don't think he could give the sacrifice that I give 24/7/365, and I know he'd admit that! And I have to say that this came at a great time. I just spent the morning crying over my 14 year old who seems to appreciate nothing that I've ever done for him. I know... he's 14. But it doesn't make it hurt any less! :)
Mama Birth said…
Thanks for all the feedback. These types of posts are my favorite- but honestly it is really hard to be "open" just because I know that when I do get negative feedback, it tends to be personal and a little below the belt. And though I try to have a thick skin, it cuts a little deeper when it comes on a more personal subject. Writing has a way of feeling like it is part of you once you put it out there.
But thank you ladies! You make it all worth while.
I love this part:

"To be a good mother is to daily live the law of sacrifice. It is not a burden, but a blessing. It is quietly hidden behind the mundane, but it is there none the less."

It really does truly describe motherhood.
Kama said…
Great post. I am often found feeling sorry for myself and the sacrifices I make regularly to raise my boys--3 and 21 months with #3 set to arrive any day! People look at me like I am nuts and some days I feel it. This was an encouraging post. So glad for Christ's example and your reminder
Thanks so much for this comment! You are doing great and I have really enjoyed reading your blog. :)