Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Little Things

I was thinking the other day about a little memory of my childhood that has stayed with me.  My mother would sometimes jog up at the high school track when we were all young, and we would accompany her and play amongst the empty stands, and vacant football field.  We kept ourselves busy, while she kept herself in shape (and kept her sanity).

One day I was walking along side her during her cool down lap.  From the field next to us, as we were on the outer lane, a bird darted out and layed down beside us and flapped it's broken wing.  I was so concerned and of course, my first instinct was to run up and hold it, to see how I could help.  My mom told me not to, and explained that it was a whip-poor-will, and we must have strolled too closely to it's nest of babies.  She told me that this is how the mother bird protects it's young...she offers herself up as a distraction to perceived predators to hopefully save her babies.  I was amazed at the risk, the self sacrifice, just the wonder of such an instinct.

I understand now, of course, more than ever.  I know what it feels like to be able to easily utter the words, "I would give my life for my child"...throw myself in front of a front train, jump into swirling waters, put myself in mortal danger...whatever it takes.

But I've realized those words are also easily, dramatically said when I know that I most likely will never be put in a situation where I will make a choice between life and death for myself in order to save my children.

Now that I've been a mother for almost 2 decades, I realize that I, like so many mothers across the world, will make thousands of choices in how I want to live my life as 'mother' and none of them would be as easy as uttering a phrase of dramatic and dying love.  All of them will be tiny, little, unnoticeable choices to say NO to someone, sometimes myself, and YES to someone or something else, mostly my children. 

A job turned down,
a career set aside,
a promotion not accepted.
A budget strained tight,
pride swallowed,
a road not taken.
A trip postponed,
a meal not eaten,
a lunch with a friend cancelled.
A nap forgotten,
a hair appointment delayed,
a book set down.
A night with no sleep,
a day with no shower,
a week with no break.

Little choices I will have to make at different stages, that would indeed might make my life harder, but would speak eons to them in terms of how much I value them, and to me in terms of how important I consider my role of mother. Nothing that will bring attention to me as a hero or someone extraordinary, certainly not something to award me for, or bring me fame of any kind. Just the opposite, actually. Things that might bring attention away from me for sure. Ordinary things that usually go unnoticed.

A no to something, means a yes to something else, I once read. 

A no to the rejection to the "live every day like it's your last" lifestyle we embrace in this country.  A yes to the idea that I have a lifetime to accomplish all I want...decades that I will be able to take that nap, sleep through the night, reintroduce that planned career, go on that trip.  But a short time to be MOTHER to an infant, to a toddler, to a child.  Years I can never ever get back, and they can't either.  A price to be payed for sure.

It's never really the big things...incredible rescues, death defying feats, or like the whip-poor-will, sacrficing our lives to deter danger.  It's never as dramatic or heroic.  It's easy to say, "I would give my life for my child"...of course, just like the wonderous instincts of the whip-poor-will, we all would.  It's never that easy...it's little things that add up over a lifetime.

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

35 comments :

  1. How lovely.

    I once heard a missionary, whose parents (also missionaries) had been killed in Africa when he was a child, speak on martyrdom. He said something to the effect of "Dying for Christ is not really that difficult, especially with the assurance we have of Heaven. It's the living for Him everyday that is a truly remarkable feat."

    It's kind of the same thing...I wouldn't think twice before taking a bullet for my son, but how often do I fail to make little sacrifices of time or attention or patience in order to make him happy? It's the little things, over and over again, that seem the hardest sometimes.

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  2. I couldn't agree more. It's so important to remind ourselves of the big picture when we make these small sacrifices, because sometimes it's damn hard! Weirdly enough, it does seem to be the smaller things that irritate me the most. In the past 3 years, I've twice been offered a place at college (training to be a midwife). Twice I've accepted, been delirious with excitement, then realised that it would be so hard to juggle training, studying, being on placement and working to pay for the childcare I'd inevitably need. Twice I've looked at my beautiful children and sadly called up to forego my place at college.
    Oddly enough, disappointing as this was, I've probably pouted more about the times I've had to miss a nap or cancel a much anticipated rare night out!
    Yes, I might have missed my chance to become a midwife (for now), but I will never regret choosing my kids over my career. This is the only life I need.

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  3. We actually DO give our lives EVERY DAY for our children. It is a sacrifice that most of the time we don't even realize we are making. It's a mommy's heart. It's dieing to SELF. It's worth it.

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  4. What great insight! I am coming off of 4 nights with little or no sleep due to a sick toddler. While tired I feel almost re-energized at the same time. I truly feel we are given what we need when we make those sacrifices out of love for those most important people in our lives. I love that your mom knew about the whip-poor-will and taught you, now I know and will teach my kids. Thanks again for your posts--always inspiring.

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  5. What a deep post! I love it & isn't it so true how we can forget the little sacrifices? I am starting to re-discover "me" as my children are becoming more independent. My kids have been taking tennis lessons for about 6 months & are doing well with it. I took 2 of the 3 to the public courts the other day & zinged my backhand at my 11 yr old son. He had no idea that I could play that well & frankly neither did I. It got buried somewhere! We laughed & had fun, but you sould certianly see the admiration coming from my son's face, which was new to me! Also, I had never heard this quote & really love it: A no to something, means a yes to something else, I once read. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. thanks again for the lovely post, and encouragement to all of us!!

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  7. wonderful post. these choices that we make as mothers are really eternal choices in so many ways. The effects of them reach way farther than we many times realize. thanks for this powerful reminder.

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  8. I know you're very against going to work as a mother. I read your blog daily. I was a stay at home mom who needed to go back to work. I have 4 kids. My husband wanted to follow his dream of starting his own company. This did not come with much income or health insurance. I returned to work to give our family health insurance and allow my husband to get a chance at his dream. I've enlisted a great team of family members to help with the child care. It is a sacrifice to leave my children. One day I hope to be able to stay home again with them. Not every sacrifice is made when you decide to stay home. I've learned that although they miss me, they have a great time with my mom during the day, and my mother in law. Also, they get to play with their cousins and experience different things with their aunts. Sometimes it's hard to admit that kids can survive & thrive without mom at home.

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  9. This is a beautiful post. Forgive me for taking it on a bit of a tangent. Does it bother anyone else when people say, "I'm pro-life, unless the mother's life is in danger."? Two minutes AFTER birth, a Mother would throw herself in front of a car to protect her baby, but two minutes BEFORE birth she wouldn't? If we really believe it is a baby (and it is!), then how can we EVER justify abortion- even in cases of rape, incest, or the mother's life being in danger?

    Thanks for a beautiful post on our little choices as sacrifices.

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  10. Lovely post as usual! I needed to hear that right now. I'm starting my own photography business and have so many things to do and then I look over at my kids little faces asking me to take them to the park or pool and I give in. I'm always thinking I'll never be successful if I don't crack down and get busy, but you remind me that this time with my kids is precious and my business will always be there waiting for me. Thanks for the reminder.

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  11. I so appreciate reading your insights. Reminders like this really help me to keep my perspective on what it's all about.

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  12. Sometimes it's hard to remember how important some of the little things are. Thanks!

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  13. I love the quote at the end of your post. Thanks again, Sarah, for sharing your wisdom.

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  14. Great post, and oh so true. While so many would willingly give up their life if they had to, so few would give up their favorite TV show, or their alone time, or their career,or a nicer car and clothes, or any number of things they think are their right to have. Thank you for the reminder that it is a daily sacrifice (for lack of a better word) that we give up our lives for our kids!

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  15. Those thoughts go through my mind all of the time. It seems that today we do have so many more "LITTLE" choices to make and less big, dramatic ones.

    I love that last quote. GREAT BLOG POST!

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  16. this is really profound and a great way to say it. the reminder that we will have time later to do those other things but RIGHT NOW is when we have itty bitties that don't stay itty bitty. thank you!

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  17. thank you for the gentle reminder.

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  18. Thanks, it's a good word for me today. :)

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  19. Oh WOW!! THIS is good stuff Sarah!!!! I needed to hear this after a crazy day at VBS!!!

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  20. I absolutely love this post. It's so incredibly true - you never realize how easy it would be to put yourself in place of your child until they arrive.

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  21. Thank you, once again, Sarah. Your words find me when I need them most. As a mother of two young (5 & 3) daughters, expecting our third baby this fall, your wisdom always reaches me like a touchstone. Your sharing and honesty and pulse on the important things in life is more appreciated than you could know.

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  22. Hi! I am in the process of reorganizing my home and caring for a very cute newborn... And along my search for some ideas I came across your blog 2-3 days ago. I have enjoyed reading some of your posts very much.
    Thank you for sharing about "little things". Your words resonated in this heart of mine, thank you!

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  23. sarah I do believe you just quoted Albus Dumbledore! I love this entry... and you are right, we can't live every day like it's our last if we're a mom. There are places and times when a mother really does have to sacrifice her life... we are blessed to not have that decision but should still take these days seriously! They are flying by...

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  24. I just found your blog and I love your writing and philosophy on raising children. Thank you for sharing your ideas on-line. I'm a fan!

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  25. Thank you for such a beautiful, encouraging and uplifting post.

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  26. What an awesome post!!! I'am a mom of four and I love everything you said, It really spoke to me. = )))

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  27. You are so right! It's the little, everyday, sometimes ordinary choices that make-up the real sacrifice as a mother. Sometimes it's the little things that are the hardest to do.
    -FringeGirl

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  28. I love your list of little choices. I have made them all and then some. Great post today.....as usual. Sounds like you have a great Mom. Just like you remembered her little comment on the bird....we never know what words our children will remember and file away for for the rest of their lives, therefore, speak carefully. Michelle from Canada.

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  29. Beautiful thoughts and super encouraging! Thank you!!

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  30. I'm so glad I ran into your blog. What a wonderful post. It has re-energized me to focus on all those little things I've been letting slip this week. I will definitely be back!

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  31. I've been following your blog for a while now. Sometimes I comment, most of the time I don't. This post is touching, or maybe the timing was just right. But what you said is so true. Motherhood, parenthood, is hard. Committing yourself to it as a more than full time job is harder. Most of what you do goes unnoticed, with out thanks, and everyday you swallow a bit of yourself. But the work is so much more important than anything I could achieve in an office. I'm raising a family. I support my husband and my children in EVERY way other than financially. And when our children achieve more, or does something really kind for their friends or family members, I can puff out my chest and KNOW that it is because of what I do that has lead her to be that person.

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  32. beautifully and perfectly said.

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  33. What a fantastic, insightful post! First, I have to commend your mother :) I would have had no idea that the bird was feigning injury to protect her babies and would probably have tried to rescue it (as I've done with numerous "stray" cats that actually had homes ~ yes... I've finally learned!). Anyway... this post made me think about all the sacrifices I've made without my children even noticing and how I hope some day they truly appreciate all I do. And to be honest, I don't like the last part of that thought. I am priviledged to be the mother of my five children and recognition isn't what it's all about. The fact that my 16 year old asked me not to work outside the home when my youngest went to 1st grade last year speaks volumes. They need me and I am so thankful to be able to be there for them in every way I can.

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  34. Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes.

    My "babies" are now 13, 17, and 19. I am so grateful to have been able to stay at home with them. Do I have any regrets about the sacrifices I've made over the years? No, I do not. The regrets I have are about the times that I listened to the advice of well-meaning friends who said, "You really need to take some time for yourself" or "When was the last time you did something just for you?" or "You really need some 'me' time." I went through a season of buying into that advice. I put myself first for about about a year. And out of 19 years of motherhood, THOSE are the times I really regret.

    I don't mean that mothers shouldn't take care of themselves. And I don't mean that mothers don't need some 'me' time every now and then. But I know from experience that a life of putting my needs ahead of my kids' needs did not work very well. It may sound cliche', but it's true: the years with children really do fly by. And you don't get do-overs.

    I appreciate you, Sarah. You say the things that need to be said.

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  35. Beautiful. I couldn't agree more. Thank you for this perspective as I make the "little choices" with my four girls--6, 5, 3, and newborn.

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