women sacrifice

Ep 37: Sacrifice versus service – how to give your all without giving up everything

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with show host Rachael Jansen

We are told that as women and mothers, we are worthy because we make sacrifices for our kids and family.

We grow up on this message – good girls give, and mothers are wonderful because they would sacrifice themselves for their children.

Have you seen this quote:

A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.

The inference is, that a mother will go without – let everyone else eat while she starves, and she’ll do it without complaint. She’ll even feel good about it.

I have on occasion done this. Not starved – but not eaten something and allowed my kids to finish it.

That’s not the actual point.

The problem with this quote – and many others like it – is that it is part of a narrative in which everyone is led to believe that mothers – women – must sacrifice, even to their own detriment, to be considered ‘good’. And that actually, she’s happy to do it and it will make her happy.

Now if it’s the last bit of ice-cream on a Sunday night, that’s not a big deal.

The ongoing narrative of sacrifice though IS a big deal because it’s not just the last bit of ice-cream we’re sacrificing.

This message – the narrative and expectations that go with it – infiltrate all areas of our lives. It creates the story that sacrifice is a core value of being a mother, and woman, and it shows up as sacrificing our body, health, career, mindset, happiness, relationships.

I’ve seen women literally say they don’t eat so that they can spend the money they do have on something for their kids. Literally NOT eating.

It’s not just when women pass on doing the yoga or fitness class; they don’t go to the movies with friends; or they don’t buy themselves clothes. It is the continued narrative that also leads them to not follow their dreams in order to devote all their time and resources to make their kids’ lives better or so their kids can follow their dreams.

The message of sacrifice leads to an existence which can leave women feeling neglected, empty and taken for granted. It encourages an assumption that women are happy to be the last in line; that we actually should be last in line because that’s our role in life.

Critically though, the narrative isn’t just about home life and raising kids – it translates over into the workforce, policy decisions, and social constructs. If the assumption is that women are happy to give everything up and go without, and that is the expectation set, then change isn’t facilitated in order to accommodate flexibility and equality. 

It’s not a fair or generous story and we need to stop the story of sacrifice and instead construct a new narrative about service.

Let’s talk about service instead of sacrifice

Being of service means you are there to help and support someone. You are dedicated to sharing love, respect and support. You will help and honour someone else’s needs and dreams.

But it’s done without self-sacrifice.

It means you are in service, even to yourself. You don’t leave you out of the equation.

The difference between sacrifice and service is literally your own health and wellbeing or happiness and future.

When we change the narrative, it shifts the story from one where you are expected to forgo everything, and instead it becomes one in which you are an equal priority in life.

If we use the word service though, this enables you to give to others but to also give to yourself.

Flipping the narrative to one of service is one that will ultimately serve everyone better.

It’s a lesson you can be happy to teach your children too – to be in service themselves. To help now, at home and within the family, but to also carry that message forward in life, and to be of service to their community and others.

It’s the difference between saying I am here for you, rather than I will do everything for you.

You can give your all, without having to give up everything.Rachael Jansen

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Photo by Serrah Galos on Unsplash

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