Today my kids are home sick. It was their preschool day. The one day of the week, out of 24/7 days a week, where I get a break for 3 precious hours. Today that is gone.
There were many things that I was not prepared for in becoming a parent, but one of the most significant ones was how much sacrifice is involved.
Sure, I understood that sacrifice is a part of parenthood. It starts with your very own body suddenly hosting little being(s), interrupting your sleep, changing your physical shape, and restricting what you can and can't eat. There are the big sacrifices like losing sleep, becoming a feeding-factory milk machine, and the restrictions of where and when you can go out. Those are somewhat to be expected, and I found that while not all of those sacrifices were easy, they had a reward in the end and they were definitely worth every ounce of energy.
The sacrifices that I found more difficult were the small adjustments to being my "own" person. I still notice this today, 4 years into parenthood. It's not something that I resent or even mind, but I am acutely aware of how many of my decisions and actions completely put my children ahead of myself. From giving up the food on my plate, or passing along the last mandarin orange that I was looking forward to eating...to staying in from invitations out with friends because the kids are having a "hard" day and need me to be around. From standing freezing cold in a wet swimsuit while I dress my kids first at the pool, to forcing myself out of bed in the middle of the night because they need help to go to the bathroom in the dark. From always thinking about what they are going to eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner before I even consider what I want to eat, to skipping out on shopping at my favorite stores because the hassle of bringing them in and managing their behavior is not worth the effort. These sacrifices occur daily, almost minutely, and are more stretching than the other big sacrifices one may think of. They are beautiful, frustrating, overwhelming, precious moments of parenthood.
I know there are boundaries and there are times I do need to put myself ahead of my kids, and that even that is healthy for their development. I just never understood fully how much ongoing, daily, every moment bits of sacrifice parenthood really is. Of course, it is worth it.
Today is just one of those days I am acutely aware of it.