I yelled on the way to school today.
I wish I could say I was shouting at a driver who cut me off at the stoplight that always seems to get us. Or that I was growling at the never-ending construction impacting our commute.
But that wouldn’t be true, because I yelled at my kids.
And it makes me feel like complete garbage because…who does that?
We’d had a bad morning—actually, I’d had a bad morning after a bad night—and it boiled over when we were finally loaded into the car and one of the kids announced he didn’t have his hat. I darted back into the house to rummage through the basket of cold weather gear, my temperature rising.
We’re always rushing around before school—I’m always rushing around before school—and it never seems to matter. So often I feel like that fabled hamster stuck in his infernal wheel, spinning helplessly through the morning routine while the kids sit idly by chewing the breakfast I provided. Sandwiches made, homework signed, jackets, boots, and backpacks—then we fly out the door at the last possible second (past it sometimes) and I feel weary again and again.
I suppose it should come as no surprise that I lost my temper.
But I realized something this morning in the surly silence that followed my ranting: I’m doing too much.
Friends, we’re doing too much.
I don’t need to pack lunches every morning, because my kids are old enough to help pack their own lunches or (the horror!) eat hot lunch at school.
I don’t need to wake my son up three different times before he slithers out of bed with a scowl, because he’s old enough to have an alarm clock and get up to it on his own.
I don’t need to track down coats and hats and gloves that have been scattered to the four corners of the entryway by careless children after school, because they have eyes in their heads and legs on their bodies and they can round them up on their own.
I don’t need to make their lives so easy, because it’s not doing them—or me—any favors.
Motherhood is first and foremost about sacrifice. We sacrifice our bodies for nine months. We sacrifice our sleep for their sustenance. We sacrifice our time and our talents, sometimes even our careers and hopes and dreams for their wellbeing, ten times out of ten, always ahead of our own. It’s beautiful and redemptive and absolutely right, this desire to nurture our children—but it can become a monster of our own creation if it spirals out of control.
This morning, that monster reared its ugly head inside my minivan, and I’m putting it back in its place, effective immediately.
Maybe we’ll be late for school. Maybe the homework won’t get done. Maybe the sandwiches will have crusts.
I can’t do it all. I won’t do it all.
We should not do it all.
And maybe that’s sacrifice at its finest.