It came second nature to make sacrifices for others. Sacrificing for someone else made me feel good about myself in ways few things could so, oddly, it was also selfish. I suppose everything we choose to do, in its rawest form, is tainted by selfishness.
There are amazing forms of sacrifice, the highest order being someone who is willing to give their life for someone else. Mothers could say that the most profound sacrifices they’ve made were for their children and probably more mothers than you realize would lay down their lives for their children.
Children are typically with us for the better part of a mother’s life and, in good part, that’s because of the sacrifices we make. They come to us so innocent and helpless there is little else to consider but giving everything we have to make their living and their growth and their comforts the best we can possibly give. That requires self-sacrifice.
I was a struggling mother for most of my child’s life so the sacrifices I made were tough to come by, but I readily recognize there were mothers – and children – who had it much tougher. Doing what’s toughest to do for someone else, but doing it anyway, is the purest form of sacrifice. We want to believe those spawn goodness of their own and that we’ve made some bigger-than-ourselves contribution to a bigger world
Filling children’s most demanding needs extends well into their own self-sufficiency, whatever age that may be. Some mothers spend entire lifetimes caring for children who are incapable of caring for themselves. That’s a huge and most admirable, long-suffering sacrifice – I can’t imagine there’s anything more selfless than that.
Other mothers sacrifice until having put a child through school, finally able to turn attentions back to themselves by the time the child is a young adult. Many mothers end up rearing their child’s children, which can be a most unnatural but necessary thing. Then the cycle of self-sacrifice starts all over again.
There are mothers who lose a child before their time and I can only try to imagine feeling more of a loss of sacrifices, be those realized or only hoped for. I did come to question just which loss of sacrifice could possibly be worse, as my own felt surely it must be the most painful. Truth be told there is no measure for any mother’s loss of her love & investment in her child.
Regardless of personal circumstances and her ability to sacrifice, a mother’s hopes in the end are that they’ve sent good human beings into the world; that they, themselves, are loved & appreciated for the love they’ve so generously given; and that they’ve passed-on the value of self-sacrifice to their children, whether that be for bettering the life of a child who couldn’t do it for themselves or for the child-who-could’s children, and so on.
Sometimes it works out that way … sometimes it doesn’t.
My only child is estranged for reasons I stopped trying to figure out years ago. I have no regrets about the sacrifices I’d made. That is what sacrifice is. If, knowing this outcome, I had it all to do over again, I would. Whatever they believed missing in their life was not for lack of sacrifice in giving all that I could.
We do the best we can with what we know and when we know more we do better. [Paraphrased, Maya Angelou]
The thing about true sacrifice is, you give of yourself not expecting anything back other than the personal gratification you may take away from it in the moment.
In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, “Sacrifice.”