I love being a Mom. I wouldn't say I'm a natural at it, but I definitely learned quickly after my first daughter was born that I'm in it for the long-haul so I better surrender to it. As time went on I grew to enjoy my occupation more and more and now that I have three kids, I can hardly remember what life was like before Motherhood. That said, there are a lot of sacrifices a woman makes to be a Mom. I try not to think about them too often and fall into pity-party mode, but some days I do wish I could take off my Mom hat just for a few hours.
The biggest sacrifice I believe most Moms make is having time to themselves. Giving too much of this up is a slippery slope. You can risk becoming a chronically grumpy person who is miserable for her kids to be around, defeating the purpose of devoting all of your time to them. Also you can slowly evolve into a martyr and no one wants to spend time with a martyr and their sob stories. Trying to grab a few minutes here or there to read a magazine, run to the store, or exercise alone is paramount to keeping your head in the Mothering game. Remember too that as the kids grow older and need you less, you'll have much more time to do the things you enjoy on your own, and who knows, you might even miss your kids spending all of their time with you.
The thing I mourn the most about being a Mom is losing my looks. This may sound vain and shallow, but pregnancy, childbirth and nursing can really take a toll on a woman's appearance. I know, I know...my body produced three wonderful children, but having to constantly face unerasable stretch marks, a sagging stomach, and Mom-hips can make a woman feel less than secure. I was even blessed with a condition called melasma, or mask of pregnancy, which is characterized by dark patches of skin on my very pale, pasty Anglo-Saxon face and I'm not sure they even make a cream for that. I'm disgusted by the celebrity Moms who look perfect two weeks after giving birth setting unrealistic expectations for what we run-of-the-mill Moms should look like. I know it's all smoke and mirrors and airbrushing and personal trainers and personal chefs and nannies but still...
One thing I refuse to invest in are cute clothes. What's the point at this stage? My baby thinks I'm a jungle gym and while climbing all over me daily deposits innumerable stains, snot, spit-up, saliva and foodstuffs on my clothing. Having mentioned previously that I'm vain by nature, I yearn to wear a cute outfit one day that is spared from this treatment but know I'll have to be patient for now. I also still have to lose those 20 stubborn Mom-pounds that have taken up permanent residence in my midsection before investing in a new, stylish wardrobe. The same thing applies to new furniture...just this morning I wiped an entire bowl of cinnamon cereal and milk off of my once-beautiful leather couch. My Mother, who has pristine taste in furnishings, always looks around with disdain at my stained, worn decor and leaves me wondering if she remembers living through these days when my brothers and I were little.
Pampering is another thing that is hard to find time for. I always picture my childless friends going to the spa every day after work even though I know this is a ridiculous notion. I'd be happy to go once a year, but even then I would be racked with Mom-guilt for spending the money on something as frivolous as a lovely hot stone massage when little Suzie needs new shoes or Sally needs a lunch box adorned with Disney characters. I try to find time to paint my toenails or take a bath, but usually I'm lucky just to get to use the restroom alone.
A big thing you sacrifice as a Mom that I was too tired to remember mentioning earlier is sleep. I haven't had a proper night of sleep in the 7 years since I became pregnant with my first child. Even if my kids didn't still wake up throughout the night, I think I just can't settle my brain from worrying about all the catastrophic things that could happen when it's dark outside. Someone could break in and take one of the kids or a tree in the back yard may decide to fall over and go through my daughter's window while she's asleep in her bed. Of course this way of thinking probably qualifies me for some kind of psychological diagnosis, but nonetheless, there's no sleep for the weary.
Another thing I miss since becoming a Mom is time alone with my husband. He could be right next to me but I still have this sensation that I'm looking at him through a crowd across a large room. With three young kids around, there is always so much chaos, happy or otherwise, and I find it difficult to form a thought most of the time let alone carry on an interesting conversation with my spouse. Romantic interludes are also few and far between and by the end of the day, we are so drained all we lust after is a good night of sleep, which I mentioned earlier is elusive at best. I do look forward to when the kids are a bit older and my husband and I can travel again, with or without them. Traveling with small kids is more of a chore than a joy and I often dream of all the places we'll go together someday.
Another possible sacrifice of Motherhood are friendships. It can be challenging to remain friends with folks who aren't married or don't have children of their own. Your once common paths diverge and your lives develop in different ways. The good news is that there are always a plethora of other Moms out there who are desperate for adult fellowship with other women who understand where they are coming from and what they are going through on a day-to-day basis.
Many Moms who choose to stay at home can sometimes feel they are sacrificing their hard-earned education and career advancement. It's unnecessary to feel this way if you try to work part-time in your field, take courses either online or at a local college to stay abreast of the latest training, or keep yourself up-to-date by researching your field on your own at the library or online. You can ease your way back into your career someday when you are ready by interning or freelancing. Luckily, your most important clients, your kids, will always need you and value your knowledge and wisdom.
The most important thing NOT to sacrifice as a Mom is your sanity. Some days you will want to run away and assume a new identity. Other days you'll wonder what you got yourself into in the first place and yearn to have the carefree life of a single, childless person. But most days you'll find there is nothing in this world you have sacrificed that is worth more than the overwhelming love you have for your children and the love you receive back from them.