Self-sacrifice a big part of motherhood

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There must be a million quotes about mothers.

“It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.”

“There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.”

“Being a mother is the highest paid job in the world, since the payment is in pure love.”

The one that stood out, though, as I was searching for inspiration is this: “Motherhood is a choice you make every day to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own.”

Self-sacrifice is one of the biggest gifts we give our children. I saw it in my own mother at every turn during my childhood. Even in the little things, she put the rest of the family first. I remember the oddest little details.

When we’d pass around a platter of chicken at Sunday dinner, she always went last and took what was left, usually the neck of the chicken, or a wing if she was lucky.

One time she saw a winter coat in our hometown department store that she so admired. Her own coat was thread-worn, but new school shoes for us kids took precedence. Dad found out how much she wanted that coat and gave it to her for Christmas. You’d have thought she won the lottery.

Mom stayed up most of the night one time to sew me a new dress for a speech meet. Even as a junior high student, I recognized the sacrifice.

She was gifted at encouraging us without being overbearing, at loving without lavishing, at believing in our abilities no matter what.

When it came time to raise my own children, I inherently tapped into Mom’s wisdom. I, too, tried to encourage without pushing my daughters too far. But I believe we do our kids a disservice if we don’t set expectations. My brothers and I were expected to get good grades, even though our parents never overtly issued any decree to be the best and brightest.

Our work ethic was honed the same way. I was expected to pull my weight on the farm and had assigned chores. My daughters also had their daily tasks, and when we’d operate our sausage stand at a couple of county fairs each summer, they came along and helped out big-time. I remember a friend coming by the food stand one time and commenting — perhaps in jest, or perhaps not — “You know, there are child labor laws,” implying we were overworking our daughters. They both now say their own work ethic can be traced back to those busy fairs where we toiled side by side.

Lest you think I’m too much of a slave-driver, my kids also remember and treasure lots of leisure activities, too. Lying on our back deck watching the stars come out. Watching thunderstorms roll in from the shelter of our front porch. Reading books, going to parks, making cookies together.

As I see my younger daughter raising her own daughter, I smile as I witness the same self-sacrifice I saw in my mother. She puts others’ needs first, just as I believe generations of women in my family always have.

I marvel at my daughter’s parenting skills. With a degree in early childhood education, she’s a master at handling a spirited 3-year-old with more patience than I ever had.

Today, I’m celebrating Mother’s Day with my husband, both of my daughters and their husbands, and my granddaughter. With one daughter in Idaho and the other in Alaska, it’s rare to get everyone together these days, so it will be a special weekend, full of love and laughter. It’s the greatest gift a mother could ask for.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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