Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Even the easiest, calmest, healthiest child can be draining and exhausting. As your parents we have had to change our whole lives to accommodate you and your big brother. So often we hear about how being a parent is self sacrificing and thankless. Now that I’m a mom I know its true. Maybe the truest thing ever said. But, surprisingly the sacrifice of parenting is not actually a sacrifice in any of the ways I expected.
I would define sacrifice as giving up something you don’t want to for the greater good or betterment of others. For example, ask any parent and they will tell you they have been in the same situation I found myself in last week. We were at the park and you and your older brother started acting up. After several warnings, in a fit of frustration I said, “If you do that one more time, we are going to leave.” I instantly regretted it. I didn’t want to leave. I was having a great time. I really needed this time out of the house! But, toddlers being what they are, you ignored me and did the annoying offence again. Now, as a mom I have two choices, give you one last chance or follow through on my threat and leave. If I let you stay, I know that you will stop taking me seriously and it will make it harder in the long run. However, I really needed this time and the thought of going home with angry, misbehaving toddlers made me want to sit down and cry. So what did I do? I picked you up and we left. I had to give up what I wanted for the greater, long term good. This is definitely a sacrifice! As a parent, this kind of stuff happens all the time.
Then there are the things that are seemingly sacrifices, but are actually not. Like right now. I’m holding you writing on my iPhone. I’m in a rocking chair with you asleep in my arms. Every time I try to put you down on the bed you wake up screaming, grabbing for me. So, on this beautiful day when I have so much to do, I just sit. You were up a lot last night and are really tired. Your nap is a long one. Going on two hours actually. My butt and legs are long asleep and I’m unbelievably bored. Yet the lure of a shower and the call of the laundry is not enough. The fact is you need me. You hurt. I want to help you, to take away your pain, to provide any comfort I can. Thus, there is nowhere I’d rather be than right here, right now.
I get to stare at you and hug you. When you are awake, you’re running around like a maniac. You are squirmy and wiggly and not the least bit interested in sitting in my arms so I can soak in your rapidly changing face. However, when you are asleep, It lets me hear you breath and feel the tension in your body. I’m aware of every dystonic twitch. It let’s me assess your progress and regression in a way I otherwise could not. Yes, I actually really need to shower, and I desperately need to do laundry. But right now, in this moment, I have the gift others do not. Time. Time to sit and enjoy my baby. Time to hold you and hug you and just live in the moment. Dystonia has given me this. Outsiders think, “What a big sacrifice, sitting for so many hours, day in and day out.” But they are wrong. This is no sacrifice. This is my joy as a mother. There is nowhere I’d rather be than with you and your brother when you need me. And your need is real, so my choice is simple.
While I may begrudgingly leave the park, I sit here happily, knowing that holding my little man is why I was put on this earth. Nothing else matters more to me. And nothing ever will. I would gladly give up money and time and sleep, if it gives you comfort. All of these things pale in comparison to the importance of you and your brother. These are not my sacrifices as a mom. These are the things that teach me about love, perspective and the value of family. These are the things I will never regret and never stop being willing to give up.
Sacrifices do happen. Almost daily. It happens when your older brother wants to eat burgers….again. It happens when I give you the best part of my favourite meal because you love it too. It happens when I listen to the same annoying song for hours on repeat. Sacrifice happens when I sit and read the same story six times in a row despite my best sales effort for a new book. I sacrifice when I miss the party because of a temper tantrum. I personally have NO interest in knowing 70 different dinosaur species, yet, I have them all memorized. Getting pooped on at a restaurant. Total sacrifice! You will never hear me argue on that one.
But, all the hurdles and lifestyle changes we have made to accommodate dystonia are not in the least bit a sacrifice. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Its what I want. It’s what makes me a mom. It’s why I’m here.
So, my little baby, when you are all grown up, people will tell you your parents sacrificed a lot of things for you. They will be right. But please know that holding you, staying up at night with you, comforting you and loving you was not one of them. Not even for an instant. You are my love and my joy in life. It is my blessing and honour to be the person who gets to do these things for you. You are my heart and my soul, and I’m so glad you are mine. For you, there is nothing I wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice.