Crunch. I bit into the crisp apple and juice sprayed onto my cheek. I looked at the round heft in my hand. Suddenly I wondered how long had it been since I had bitten into a whole apple instead of cutting it into slices to share with the kids? A year? Since my youngest was born—four years?

Who knows?

All I knew was that on this morning I was alone, and I had the whole apple all to myself.

Life as a mother often feels like we don’t even have our selves to ourselves. Motherhood
is altruistically fragmented—split into segments given to our offspring. We cut up our
apples to give away slices. We give our bodies to grow, birth and nurture babies. We give our sleep to feed and care for children at night. Moms give long hours of paperwork to advocate on our kids’ behalf. We give away precious quiet, clean houses, and a looser budget to trade for the joy of being a mother. To mother is to give.

Really we don’t mind—a mother’s love is altruistic in its very nature. Mother swans tear
feathers from their chests to make soft nests for their babies. Female penguins regurgitate
consumed fish as chick food (I’m glad humans don’t have that task!). Mothers will do anything for the best of their young, often to their own lack.

Humans are no exception.

Mamas give all we can to enable the next generation to thrive. There are times when I feel I’ve given all I have to offer and left myself depleted. So many times, I felt like I had nothing left to give—no energy to make dinner, no compassion for kissing the thousandth boo boo, no inspiration to even pretend to be the whole, fun and “have it all together” mom. I’ve felt as fragmented as the pieces I’ve given away.

Those moments of emptiness pass and what remains is the fierce and constant love I feel for my children. I wouldn’t take back the love and care I’ve provided my kids because I realize that the act of giving has made me who I am today. All the struggles, pains, mama-worries and prayers—fragments of the past several years of mothering—are not given away and lost, but rather remain forever part of me.

When I think back to pre-kids me, I recognize her—she is me, only somewhat two-dimensional. She is missing pieces: the strength, resiliency, patience, wisdom, and depth of love that have come as a result of the past several years of muddling through being a mother. Every time I feel like I’ve given away a piece of myself, it grows back on my soul in a sort of refinement. I am whole made up of a thousand small sacrifices that gilitter like pieces of a brilliant mosaic.

Biting into a complete apple—instead of a scrounged slice from my son’s plate—made me feel like a whole person again. Maybe you need the reminder, too.

Mama… You are whole.

The love and sacrifices you give away merely boomerang right back to make you more resilient and beautiful.

So go ahead. Bite into a full apple this week. Better yet, make it a caramel apple, embellished with a hundred colorful tiny candy pieces that make it unique and sweet… just like you.

Photo Credit: Faith Photography by Kati
Evelyn joyfully mothers and home educates her four children. When all is quiet she blogs about encouraging women to uncover their best with less at Smallish: