Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Motherhood Sacrifice

Motherhood is all about sacrifice. For centuries mothers have been giving up what they want and need in order to accommodate the more pressing demands of their children. We give up sleep, leisurely meals, perky breasts, time, energy, you name it. We happily give it all up to raise these beautiful little creatures and have them prosper and grow into their oversized personalities.

For the past five years I have been working every weekend in order to be able to be home during the week with my kids and avoid paying drastically for child care. My kids see more of me and I don't have to worry about who is caring for them on which day. I have sacrificed many a party, girls' night, dinner out, and basically most other regular event that happens on a weekend. I get the occasional weekend off, savoring every minute of it when I'm not rushing to make the most of it. Now that my oldest is in second grade, I miss out on his life most of all. He's at school all week while I'm home, and I spend most of the day sleeping when he's home on the weekends. It's lame, but it works for our family right now.

Next week I am doing something that is totally radical in the world of motherhood: I am going on vacation by myself. That's right, I said it. No husband, no kids, just girlfriends for five days in Florida. The opposite of sacrifice. Next week I am giving myself a well earned break from the chaos and taking a little sacrifice back. Feels totally reckless as I have never done anything like it before. I travel a lot, but I always take my kids with me. This year I had very little money, but airline miles I could only use myself. Hmmm, what to do?

Ignoring the waves of panic that wash over me at night (How will they be OK without me? Will I be able to will our plane to stay in the air and make it to the other side? Will the house crumble into dust from neglect or be condemned from filth when I return? Am I traumatizing them by taking myself away for so long?) I soldier on because I am downright psyched about this trip. We are staying on a houseboat (is there anything cooler than that?) and planning to fill our days with beach, snorkels, and tropical cocktails. My goal is to relax enough for the next seven years until I get another vacation like it.

I am nervous about it because I am trained to sacrifice. It feels wrong to do something that is just for me. I'm not sure how that guilt was ingrained into me, but here it is. Wherever I go, this invisible umbilical cord has me attached to my children and I can't help but worry about where they are when they aren't with me. I think this feeling may never dissipate, and that it may be the permanent connection that makes motherhood such a powerful force.

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