I had myself a little pity party yesterday. Not 20 minutes after I put on my mommy hat (which comes after my blogger hat every morning), my husband had "suggested" (his words) that our room could use a little cleaning and my oldest daughter had not so gently reminded me that she needs a haircut.
Looking around my house as I did the piles of laundry, made lunches, combed hair and cleaned up after everyone, I had a classic pity party. It included tears, mumbles of "why don't they see how much I actually do around here?" and some not very charitable thoughts toward the other members of my household. In the midst of my mumbling and grumbling I started making a list of the things moms rarely hear.
1. "Thanks for making sure I have clean clothes." We're more likely to hear, "Why isn't my favorite sweatshirt clean?" or "I'm out of underwear."
2. "That was a great dinner. I especially enjoyed my vegetables." If you have more than one person at the table, you can almost be assured someone isn't going to like something you fixed. We're more likely to hear, "Eww. What is that?" or "Do we have to have this again?"
3. "Thanks for taking me to my practice." We're more likely to hear "Do I have to go to practice?"
4. "Thank you for teaching me responsibility by giving me chores to do." After nagging to get the chores done, we're more likely to hear, "I vacuumed last week. It's her turn."
5. "Thank you for keeping the house clean and picked up." We're more likely to hear, "I can't find my shoe. What did you do with it?"
We've all been there, haven't we? Sitting in a place where it seems everyone else's needs come before our own and no one, and I mean no one, appreciates what we are doing. Our tasks are no longer a labor of love but simply something we have to do instead of doing the things we really want to do. It's on those days when we want to throw up our hands, walk out the door and head for a beach in the Caribbean for a couple of weeks.
My pity party yesterday led me to this realization: Parenting requires sacrifice. It requires us to stay and do the laundry instead of walking out the door. It means we get up every morning, make the lunches, comb the hair, offer sage advice, help with the homework, change the diapers and wipe the snotty noses when we'd rather be doing just about anything else. Sacrifice means we give up late nights, evenings out and much of our own identity to nurture and love these little people who have come into our lives.
Lucky for us, God knows all about sacrifice as a parent. He gave up His Son for us. He did it willingly so that there would no longer be a barrier between us and Him. Hebrews 10:10 says "we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." I'm not suggesting that we sacrifice our children for others, but I am suggesting that when God asks us to sacrifice for our kids, He knows what He's talking about. He's an expert when it comes to sacrifice as a parent.
I'm not going to tell you that this revelation on sacrifice suddenly made my day perfect. I was still a little disgruntled with my family when they came home. But it did offer some perspective. It made me realize that no matter how much I sacrifice for my family (my time, my energy, things I love to do), I can never match the sacrifice my heavenly Father made for me.
While I would love to hear those things on my list, I know that the sacrifices I'm making today will result in God-honoring kids in the future. When my kids are grown, I'll have plenty of meals at my table where no one complains. Someday, I won't be tripping over four pairs of shoes in the living room.
The next time you're making a list in your head of all the things you've sacrificed, remember those sacrifices now will pay dividends later. Even if no one else recognizes the sacrifice, God sees, and He's pleased. And when your kids have children, you'll be amazed at how much they appreciate all that you did.
Do you know a mom that could use some encouragement today? Take a minute to share this list with her to offer her a boost.