When sacrifice has rosy cheeks.

I haven’t thought much about “sacrifice” the last 2 years. Correction: I haven’t let myself think much about sacrifice. It seems like there is an unspoken rule of motherhood that once the second line appears, no complaining is allowed. No rough days, no short tempers, no “real talk”. No matter what. Tote your babies, brush your hair, and smile. Most days, it’s easy. When E is happy, when the sun is shining and there’s nothing to complain about… the days where sacrifice isn’t evident.

But then there’s the weeks when your baby is sick. When she’s crying for 10 out of her 12 waking hours. When you administer steroids for her weak lungs and they send her into rosy-cheeked rages. When you sit in an ER after midnight, trying to lull her to sleep while monitors ring. When you get the opportunity to read a story to your old students and want to cry because you miss it so badly. When you watch yet another school year pass without you in the classroom. When you set up play dates and she screams all the way through them. When you hug the children from your first and last class because you only lived your dream of teaching for one full year. When you syringe water into her mouth and weigh diapers. When you hold her down during rounds of painful shots. When you submit your resignation to the school you adore because her life requires so much from you.
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And it’s a sacrifice. According to the dictionary, it’s an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy. The acts are painful. Typing the resignation letter. Holding her warm, flushed, wiggly body when there are dishes to do. Closing the windows on nice days because her lungs can’t handle them open. Getting rid of each piece of my classroom that I had carefully pulled together: book by book, pencil by pencil. Waking up, brushing my hair (most days), smiling, and holding our girl. I do it all because she is far more important than the things I thought I valued the most: comfort, teaching… sleep. 🙂

I know that each of you is making sacrifices of varying types every day. I see that. I see the lackluster job that you hold for stability for your family, the snot-covered shirt you sport because the baby won’t let you out of his sights so you can change it, the weariness of your body as you face another day after restless sleep. It’s not easy: remember, the requirement of sacrifice is that you need to give up something you value… Something you cling to. It will be something you dream about, desire, or work your whole life towards. Whatever you’re holding the tightest… It’s going to hurt to give it up.

But it’s a lot easier if you open your hand, because the tighter you grasp what you value, the more it’ll hurt when it is taken away.

Open your hand to give up what you thought you wanted, what you thought you needed. Open it for the opportunity to learn about life, to love on a deeper level, and to make meaning out of circumstances.  To realize that maybe rosy cheeks are a better, higher calling than the original calling you had received. To realize that even though it is painful to sacrifice, the reward is exponential. To know that your sacrifice is worth it, and it is important.

 

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