It was 5:30 on an August afternoon in
Southern Arizona. The air was thick and humid, and the thermometer in my car read a blazing 109°. The moment I put the car in park, my two boys rushed from the backseat and up the sidewalk to one of the playgrounds on their school campus.
Being a “year-round school,” the new year had just begun two weeks before, and the school was celebrating with a fundraiser.
The smell of freshly popped kettle corn mingled in the air with the scent of pepperoni pizza that was being sold by the slice. Children ran wild, teachers observed.
Jumping castles and an inflatable slide lined the back of the field, and my boys raced across the lot, falling in line behind the other children who appeared to be just as excited as they were.
I stood aside to watch their play while the desert sun continued to beat down. Sweat gathered at the nape of my neck and trickled down my back, and I shifted in heated discomfort as I began to wonder how I’d let my kids talk me into thinking this was a good idea.
I glimpsed my baby, my 7-year-old son, his face beet red from the heat and his smile unending as he skipped from one jumping castle to the next.
Maybe I didn’t want to be there, but he definitely did.
Glancing around, I saw other mothers standing in similar poses, wiping sweat from their brows and consoling inconsolable babies.
A somewhat sarcastic What we don’t do for our kids ran through my mind.
It wasn’t long before I spotted a family I didn’t know personally, but saw often. A young child was strapped in a motorized wheelchair, though it would be difficult for me to guess her age. Her mom was right by her side, the very spot I’d seen her every single time.
That thought returned, What we don’t do for our kids, but in an entirely different context.
Even when I paused to think about it, I couldn’t begin to fathom what that mother had sacrificed for her daughter.
The sheer number of children who are diagnosed with autism each year and the number of children who are born with severe mental and physical disabilities is astounding.
I’m in awe of these mothers and the sacrifices they make.
So this one is for all the mommies out there, no matter where you’re at in life or what circumstances you’re dealing with.
For those who spend tireless hours caring for the children who cannot care for themselves.
For the single mom who does it all, who does whatever it takes to give her children the best life she possibly can.
For the mommy who stays up the entire night rocking her baby, kissing away the tears and wishing away the fever.
For the moms whose children are already grown, for the woman who believes the word Grammy is the most beautiful thing she’s ever heard.
For the moms who are happy to stand in the sun.
For the exhaustion, for the tears.
For the little sacrifices and the big.
Because with that sacrifice comes the greatest joy we could ever know.
-Originally posted August 2011