A couple weeks ago I was reading a friend’s blog talking about the “Motherhood Sacrifice.”

And she made me think.

As Mothers we do sacrifice things to “be there” for our kids, and for our families.

The word “sacrifice” sometimes tends to have a negative connotation to me. I’m not really sacrificing my better self to be there for my kids. I want to be there with them, as I’m sure most Mothers do.

Does that make us better?

I believe, resoundingly, YES! Motherhood pushes us. It helps us let go of things that aren’t important. Helps us cling to things that are.

But at what point is there a balance?

When I was doing photography I felt a new me coming out. I had a niche.

And I loved it.

Each time I met up at a photo shoot location with a new family my heart would beat a little faster. Seeing those families dressed to a “T” and knowing (from being a mother myself) how tough it must have been to get that baby napped and fed and dressed on time would be enough to kick me into high gear. I had to be on top of my game. If that Mom was willing to take the time to get her husband talked into a family photo shoot, get her baby napped early, take her kids from their sports, get them all spiffed up and show up on time to capture their family at that exact moment of time, I better sure as heck be on my game.

That pit of worry in my gut turned me around and got my adrenaline pumping. It got me into a groove that I felt like I could conquer the world. That adrenaline helped me cajole any grumpy baby into a grin and pull out the real relationships of those siblings. I loved the pressure, the pushing of myself to do something out of my comfort zone. And I loved to see the finished product: a family picture that froze that family in time. Shots that would capture how those boys loved each other, or how that big sister adored her baby sibling long after they were all grown-up.

Something happens in your heart when you are creating. And it feels good. And I believe it’s good for us. Very good.

Writing on this blog feels a little bit the same. Sitting at a computer and spilling out my thoughts makes me stronger. Gives me an outlet. Helps me grow that creative portion in me that could otherwise get smothered.

We all have something that gives us a rush…that pushes us. Whether it’s from organizing a big project to running the PTA to being a whiz at computer know-how to being the best laundress on the block, we all have things that push us and make us better.

So, again, where’s the balance? What do we sacrifice? Do we sacrifice a portion of our Motherhood to let other parts of us grow and develop? And in doing so, does that better person we push ourselves to become actually benefit our dear children because we are reaching outside of ourselves, pushing ourselves to new levels? We want them to learn to do hard things, right?

Or do we sacrifice building a better self by giving things up on the wayside so we can get down on eye level with our five-year-old and explain the wonders of the world? Or does that time we give to our children in and of itself make us into that better self? (I believe wholeheartedly that it does.) Is the sacrifice we make on both sides actually building us to be stronger and more full of love? Is there really a way to do both?

I love being a Mother more than I could ever write down and express on paper. But is part of being the best Mother I can be taking time for myself to do what makes me better? I don’t know that I would be my OWN kind of best Mom simply by being at home doting on my kids all day. I think being the best Mom I can includes doing things outside of motherhood, not just doting on children and shuffling them around to different activities.

For years my motto of Motherhood has been to “Be There.” But I’ve realized that sometimes “Being There” actually means having experiences outside of mothering enough that you understand what “being there” really means.

Last year when I made a choice to take a hiatus from photography I felt like I was giving up part of myself. But I’ve never looked back. Sure, I missed it. But the sacrifice I was making to my Motherhood was too much. Photography was seeping into of all the nooks and crannies I wanted to be filled with my family. But the time I had spent doing it made me stronger. It made me better. And I’m so thankful that I got to do that while I could.

Sure, there will be many opportunities for photography in my future. (And there are other Mothers who can do it all with ease and my hat’s off to them.) But will there be other possibilities for me to write down my feelings and record what my kids are doing right now? Will there be other possibilities for me to lay in bed and snuggle with my 11-year-old when she’s sad? Will my son just miraculously call me his best friend if I haven’t taken the time to really get to know him?

There must be a balance found between reaching outside of ourselves and being content. Our kids can feel that contentment…it oozes into family life and makes it stronger. So how do we find it amidst all that we want to do? There are sacrifices to be made any way we look at it. But sacrifice makes us stronger, right? We just need to figure out the right balance to keep ourselves balanced on this tightrope of Motherhood.

We have to conscientiously work to be the best person we can through balance and the GOOD kind of sacrifice…because really, can it classify as a “sacrifice” when we’re really gaining much, much, much more than we give when we are Mothers?

And that, I believe, in and of itself, makes us the best Mothers we can be.

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  1. I love your book! I just finished it and found your blog and I've been going back and reading up on your posts. I can relate to everything you say as if I was thinking or saying it myself. I've found myself laughing out loud, reading it to my husband and applying a lot of what you do with your family to my own. I told my husband your book was my favorite Christmas present to date!

    Ah… the juggle to find balance. I think that is something I think about daily. What you wrote takes me back to a conference talk and I'm not sure who even said it. But… it went something like filling our lives with the good things when we should be filling it with the "essential" things. I think as mothers we have that intuition of when something is out of balance and then refocusing and putting the essential things first. You are a great example of this very thing. Thank You for all your thoughts and for making me a better mother.

  2. Hmmmm….this sounds exactly like a YW Lesson I just taught in Mia Maids. I believe you are correct in saying that the word sacrifice has a negative connotation to it, but I too feel like we do sacrifice a lot of ourselves, as mothers, to be there for our children and to make sure they are loved, well taken care of and looked after. I truly believe that it is a "good sacrifice" though and I'm more than happy to sacrifice if in fact that is what I'm doing. I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to stay at home and be there for my children. I don't really feel like I'm missing out on anything. In fact I'm participating in the most important work I will ever do. So while it may be a sacrifice, I wouldn't have it any other way.

  3. I've stalked your blog for a very long time. I love Lucy and I'm one of those naughty people who never comment. Today, I feel compelled. I give things up for my kids all the time. My time, my love, often my sanity. I always thought when you sacrifice something it meant you wouldn't get anything back. If I give up a little time with my girl friends so I can have time with my daughters while they are little and at home, it is really no sacrifice in my mind. I'm reaping many, many benefits are so are my girls. Instead of calling it sacrifice, maybe as moms we should call is Compromise. Sorry this was so long. Maybe I just found my next blog post.

  4. I was doing photography, but when we moved almost 4 years ago, I stopped and have been at peace with it also. I am there pretty much every second of my girls days and even will be more so this fall when we start homeschooling. I love being a mom more than anything!
    you are a true inspiration of motherhood/being a wife/christian!
    thank YOU!

  5. Very inspiring and thought provoking.

    I truly struggled with motherhood when I had an on duty motorcycle wreck at work that ended my very successful career as a cop.

    I really believed that going to work 70 hours a week, leaving my kids with the nanny, and giving way too much to my career was making me a better Mom, because I wanted to be there, what little time I really had with them.

    After years of rehab, and one amazing miracle later, I know that the balance is in the time you are not being Mom and the time that you are wiping noses and cheeks and bottoms. You have to take that time to go places without your munchies and then to take them places and let them cry when you go out dancing with your husband and watch your husband panic as you go out with the girls.

    I don't have the option of going back to my career or let it dribble into my daily life and find the comfort in what I loved so much, but that was a sacrifice that I have come to terms with. I can't say that I am at peace with it, but without the sacrifice, you can not reap the rewards…. For me, that reward is 3 kiddos with manners and minds of their own. Two with straight A's most weeks and little guy that is gonna set the world on fire!
    And I try so hard to remember THE SACRIFICE THING when I am doing a Crossfit workout like 400 squats for time. Sacrificing the next few days of normal walking for shorts season.


    Have a great day Shawni!!!!

  6. Great post Shawni! The balancing act! I think that is what all mothers are trying to achieve- how to be the best mother possible but also be your best self. I think it is something we will be working on our whole lives!

  7. I loved this post, and I wholeheartedly agree with you. And it IS a tough balancing act!

    While I am a full-time stay-at-home mom (and wouldn't have it any other way), I also am getting into photography a little and I teach piano lessons on the side, when my husband is home to watch our little guy. So far it hasn't taken too much time away, but it is always something that is in my mind. I am always reminding myself to keep it balanced.

    Thanks for your great example!

  8. I loved this post–thankyou for validating what so many mothers are striving to do for their families, especially when society tells us what we do is so un-important. I've been reading your blog for a couple weeks and it is so inspiring, I don't know how you do it all! Looking forward to reading you book.

  9. That's a lot to think about…what a great post. I think so much of what/when/how we balance has to do with the stages of motherhood too, and the number of kids you have. What I could have handled 2 kids ago, is NOT what would work for me now. Having an infant or needy toddler changes things. Sacrifice in a way, but sometimes that sacrifice ends up being what I needed the most?
    Everything you said is SO true.

  10. This is a great post. I struggle myself to find this exact balance. It is something that I pray about often. And finding our best self. Giving of ourselves to our family is one of the best services and christ like things we can do. I also realize that there can be to much on the other end of this balancing act of not having enough of yourself. I know that this is something that is personal and as women, mothers, sisters and friends we need to constantly pray and ponder on the right direction to take. We have such a neat opprotunity to help and serve our family. Thank you for posting. I love to hear other mommies that are so dedicated to there families. It is inspiring and reminds me on those hard moments what my real goal/purpose is. Thank you!

  11. I can completely relate this post. It is so well said. Yes, sacrifice has a negative connotation. I do believe it is the sacrifice though to "be there and be present" that makes me a better person. I love seeing the world through my kids eyes. So glad I stopped by your blog.

  12. wow! you are such an amazing person! i love your blog. i stumbled upon it a while back and i'm so glad i did. very inspiring!

    i live in cleveland right now while my husband is completing some medical training. i'm planning to go to TOFW in pittsburgh in april. too bad you and your mom aren't going to be there. 🙂

    oh… i worked with your husband at the credit union in provo many years ago. such a small world!

  13. You are the voice of mothers everywhere. I try to keep myself from commenting sometimes because what more might I say that someone hasn't, especially when it's too late for me to form a coherent thought anyway? But oh your blog, Shawni… your thoughts, your writing… your photos—- whether your charging money for them or not… you are just so inspiring.

  14. I just love your blog and loved your post today. I am a mother of 6 great kids from 26yrs to 13yrs I know it is so hard to find the balance somtimes but as my older children are now going out on thier own and I now have a granddaughter, the most rewarding thing is seeing your child be a great parent! as I look back at those years at home, I love the memories we made and are still making and NO sacrifice would have ever been to much, thanks for you thoughts

  15. This was one of my favorite blog entries. It could be given as a homemaking lesson or Sunday lesson. Just beautiful! You defnitely have a gift with words!! Keep blogging and using that creative outlet. I think you could publish your blog and sell it as a book—it is THAT beautiful!!
    (I also silently covet your eye for photography, cuz that is one of my creative outlets as well.).
    Lots of love,
    Christa Johnson (Wiemers daughter)

  16. Ahhh… finding the balance… the never ending quest.
    I am a mother of 4 and wife to a very busy medical resident. I'm still trying to figure this one out but one thing I'm learning is that for me "the balance" is different everyday.

    Some days service and sacrifice feels right and good and I can do it and other days I can feel inside me that I need something to fill ME back up (a lunch with friends, a photo shoot, or grocery shopping WITHOUT kids). I guess when it boils down to it I believe when I am listening to the spirit he lets me know where the balance is… for that day anyway.
    Thanks for the post. I just found your blog and I love that you keep it real. 🙂

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