Sacrifice, bah. I don't like that word. Many people use it to denote a grand gesture of giving something up for someone/something else. To me, that word means giving up something that you don't want to for someone else, but you do it anyway (usually for an ulterior motive). I especially don't like the word being used in terms of child-rearing...it seems somehow demeaning to the child, usually used in a way to make the child feel like they owe their parents something besides respect. My "sacrifice" has been my body. Anyone who has had children understands the physical toll it takes on a woman to carry and have a baby. But my "sacrifice" actually started several years before my girls were even a twinkle in my eye.
It all started on an ordinary day four days before my 20th birthday. I was working a typical crappy job like most kids my age at a bookstore, as a barista in the coffee shop. Everyday I was required to go to the stock room and gather the necessary supplies to replenish the coffee shop and restock. It may seem pathetic that I remember this in such detail, but on that ordinary day I had gone to the back to retrieve more raspberry flavor syrup and some more pump chocolate. The raspberry syrup was buried under two other syrup boxes, so I moved them out of the way and boodled over to retrieve the two stinkin' bottles I needed. This is when I heard a THUNK in my back, and then felt the pain, with an intensity I didn't that my body was capable of. Being a naive girl, I had no clue there was such a thing as worker's compensation, so I just scooted to the office and told them I had to leave. I spent the next two days sitting on a heating pad and taking ibuprofen and pain pills, hoping it would all go away. It didn't and I had to quit my job (I had been ready to do that for a while, anyway). After healing up for a couple weeks, I went to work for a mom & pop bookstore, that I still miss sometimes. I didn't realize until two years ago that I hadn't just pulled something, but that I actually had a herniated disc. Considering that I didn't have health insurance at the time (which is why I never went to the ER), it comes as no surprise that I had no clue. All because of two stupid syrup bottles.
For the purpose of not having to call my children by oldest/youngest, let's just call them Honeybunch (the oldest) and Stinkbug (youngest) from here on out. Moving on, let's skip to December 2008. At this point, I had been married for a little over a year, had a steady office job, and Honeybunch was one month old. Over the years I had learned how to cope with this back injury and thought it was mostly gone, except for days that I used my back a lot. Having just had a c-section, I had absolutely no usable core muscles, but in my rush to prove that I was a superhero, I insisted on trying to care for Honeybunch as much as I could without assistance. What a dumb idea, to ignore the advice of the doctor to take it easy. One morning she woke up for her typical reasons...needing a fresh butt, some liquid refreshment, and some rocking and I got up with her. Just like always, I opted to change her butt first and put her on the changing stand. As I (once again) boodled over to do something mundane, I heard the THUNK again. After several months of wait-and-see and doctor visits, I finally got the MRI I needed to confirm that my lower back is in fact, screwed. Yeah, that second thunk exacerbated the original injury and has never quite been the same. Over the past two years, I've had several flare-ups, but I've *powered through it, knowing it's just a permanent part of my life now. As I write this blog entry, I am currently in the middle of a flare-up, just trying to take it easy. All because of a dirty diaper.
My husband and I like to talk sometimes about what we would do if we could go back in time and change some things. This is not to be mistaken for regret so much as wondering what things would be like if we made small changes. Kind of like the "What If machine" on Futurama. There have definitely been times that I've wished I could go back and tell myself not to get the syrup, just let the next shift get it. Or let my husband change Honeybunch's butt that morning, but those decisions would come with consequences that would probably (over time) lead me to a very different life. Perhaps I wouldn't have quit that job and the timing of my next jobs, if I ever snagged them, would have been off. Then I wouldn't have had the job that I did when I met my husband, which was crucial to the timing of our relationship...he was a customer at the store I worked at. If we hadn't met, I would never have my Honeybunch and my Stinkbug. And if I hadn't re-injured my back in 2008, there's no telling how different things would be now, just for not having gone to all those orthopedist appointments and such. Stinkbug might not even exist if I hadn't changed that butt two years before!
Besides my back, there's also the humongous change I've made in terms of my personal sense of style...no more makeup from the counter, $300 clothing excursions, maintained hairdo. Or weekends shooting pool and having drinks till the buttcrack of dawn. No more spontaneous day trips, sleeping in til obscene hours of the afternoon, or reading a whole book on a rainy day. Quiet dinner with my husband? What's that? Watching what I want on TV? Only after everyone's in bed. Having anything resembling privacy in the bathroom has ceased to exist. The list goes on forever. Parenting is hard, and you do lose a lot of the little freedoms you took for granted when you were younger. However, most of the things you lose were never really that important to begin with. After all, looking nice 24/7 is what single women do to attract a mate, as well as the going out (which leads to the sleeping in). Reading all day? Although one of my favorite past times, it's something I don't miss as much as I thought I would, since I have people in my life to share the rainy days with now.
Although parents give up a lot for the sake of their children, I would hope that most don't regret it. After all, I get the opportunity to help change the world just by the fact of having my babies. This isn't to say that I, as a human being, have ceased to have needs and interests. Of course I still recognize myself as having value separately from what I offer my husband and children. But there is a little thrill in realizing that a child is pure potential and as a parent, you can hopefully raise them in a way that influences them to be amazing people and go on to do great things. We all have heard the "you never know if that kid will cure cancer" thing, but I'm not even worried about that. If I can just raise my girls to be decent individuals with respect for themselves and other people and their earth, they will make their own positive mark by the fact of their own existence. If my husband and I can achieve that, all of the so-called sacrifices will seem like a drop in the bucket. Besides, I'm not sure if there's anything I wouldn't do for my girls...they bring me so much joy, I'm just glad to have them in my life.
* By powering through, I mean laying around feeling sorry for myself, eating hot pockets so I don't have to cook, drinking coffee, and watching Ghost Whisperer because I can't tolerate anything loud/bright with my nerves being shot. Yeah, I'm pretty much a wuss for pain and discomfort and tend to get whiny. I'm...just bein' honest. (Hey ya!) ::end randomness::