The other day, I did this thing I do when all of my kids are at school. I packed the lunches, signed the things, got the kids to school, and drove up to the mountains by myself to ski for the day because after 10 years, I’m beginning to master this Stay at Home Mom Gig.
I spent the next few hours shreddin the gnar in 7 inches of pow, chasin freshies. (I don’t even know what that sentence means, but I think that’s what I was doing all day.)
When my legs begged for mercy and my phone alarm reminded me to go pick up the children, I began the drive home, basking in the glow of a spectacular ski day, and feeling like that girl I used to be before the kids and the last 10 years of life drained the energy from my soul. There’s just something about a day in the mountains, a winding road and country music on the radio that refuels me.
As I made my way back to my kids and my home, I was oozing gratefulness for the opportunity to call Colorado my home, and I realized I could’ve been taking care of myself like this for the past 10 years by doing the things that make me feel like me. But I was too busy feeling bitter about how much poop I was cleaning up, how many dishes were still left undone, how much laundry needed to be washed, dried, folded, or put away… I was too busy being angry about my husband’s long hours at work, my kids making it impossible to leave the house, my inability to run a household… I was too busy grieving the loss of the girl who loved mountains and trees to realize she was never lost at all.
You see, fifteen years ago, my now-husband said something my 23 year-old self thought was romantic and profound. We were deep into a discussion that covered everything, and he said, “Love is about sacrifice.”
“What do you mean?” I replied.
He leaned back, ran his hand through his hair, and paused just long enough to make me think he was coming up with something really deep. And then, this country music-hating young man looked straight into my eyes and said, “It means… I would’ve listened to country music if I had to in order to be with you.”
Had God called me to sacrifice my happiness, my personality, my love of the outdoors when I became a mom? Had God called me to give up on leaving the house? Had God called me to sacrifice my self-worth because the kitchen was constantly a mess? Had God called me to give up on being the person He made me?
Or did I give my happiness, my personality, my time in the outdoors willingly because fighting for them was just too hard? Did I cling to my “sacrifices”, believing it justified my bitterness? Did I sacrifice so I could believe I deserved to be angry that my life now isn’t what it once was?
Sure, being a wife and a mom requires sacrifice. I mean, I knew there would be poop. I didn’t know there would be THIS much poop, but I knew there would be poop.
And it’s true. Love IS about sacrifice.
But love is NOT about bitterness. “Love is patient, love is kind...it keeps no record of wrongs…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Unfortunately, I keep a record of the sacrifices I make for my husband, and my children. Even the ones no one ever asked me to make.
Here’s the thing, friend. My people never asked me to give up hiking, country music, or long drives on country roads, but they also don’t know how much I need those things if I don’t communicate and schedule them in. It’s not selfish to be my best self. It’s selfish to give people my worst self because I’m drowning in pee-stained sheets and dirty dishes and I can’t breathe. It IS selfish to allow my heart and soul to die because “it was just too hard” to fight the battles it takes to care for them.
It’s true. Love is about sacrifice.
Because I love myself, I will sacrifice a clean house for a day of skiing. Because I love my family, I will sacrifice the “should-be” version of me and go be my best self instead. Today I have a ski goggle tan and a smile, and this is the face of the wife and mom I want my family to have, not the exhausted, bitter, angry one who only exists to wipe up poop and pick up the house.
Please fight for the time to be and care for yourselves, mamas. Your families need the real you. She’s still in there. And she’s worth fighting for.