{On Motherhood} The Sacrifices We Make For Our Kids

Growing up, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you that I wanted to be editor-in-chief of Essence magazine. Like, that was the only goal.

For a young black girl, seeing the beautiful covers featuring beautiful black women gave me a reason to smile and celebrate being me. I wanted to be the person who put it together every month, who crafted the direction of the magazine and gave other little girls and young women the feeling that they are awesome and they can do great things with their life.

I wrote all through elementary school and middle school and high school. I worked hard for the school newspaper and yearbook. I majored in journalism and wrote for the daily paper in college. I was the editor of one of our campus magazines by second semester of my freshman year. I contributed to all the others. I told anyone who would listen that I wanted to run Essence.

So when junior year rolled around, I applied for a few summer internships. One was the ASME internship, one of the most competitive in the country. I also applied (of course!!) for an internship with Essence’s parent company, Time Warner. My professors pushed me into applying for the ASME internship, and I only got excited about it when I saw the Essence was indeed one of the placement spots.

But then I got pregnant. It was March, about two months before I was supposed to leave.

I got offered the Essence internship. That was the best phone call I’ve ever received. I was beaming from ear to ear, jumping up and down. This was what I had been working for.

The details, however, were not so good. The internship didn’t pay much and they wouldn’t be paying for my room and board.

If I was a regular ol’ college student, I would have sucked it up, ate my Ramen noodles, and slept on the floor of my friend’s already overcrowded NYC apartment.

But I had a baby coming. I did the math, and it would have cost me more money than I was willing to spend to do the internship, which wasn’t a guarantee of anything.

So I turned them down. And I cried. I was trying to do the responsible thing, but it hurt because I felt like I was basically saying good-bye to my dream.

But then I got another call. I got the ASME internship. The pay? About $350 a week. And they gave me the option to work from home on Fridays. It wasn’t Essence, but for a mom-to-be with a jones for writing, it was perfect.

So I went. And while it wasn’t a cakewalk, I had a ball.

And guess what? The highlight of my summer was meeting Angela Burt-Murray, the editor-in-chief of Essence, at one of the ASME luncheons. I waddled my butt up to her, asked her to sign my copy of her latest book, and then hit her up with a request to interview her for a parenting website I was writing for at the time. She graciously agreed and told me to come to her office in two days. I spent an hour with her that morning,  talking about life, love and balancing responsibilities. She told me some things I really needed to hear and I still draw strength from that conversation even six years later.

I may not be working for Essence, but I’m a full-time writer, which, if I really think back, was my goal underneath the goal.

I guess I’m writing all this to tell you that it all works out. All these sacrifices we make for our kids come back to us three-fold. Yeah, it sucks that you can’t buy something nice for yourself right now because the kids are sucking up all of our money. Yeah, it sucks that you are perpetually tired from staying up waaay past your kids’ bedtime because it’s the only time you can get stuff done. Yeah, it sucks that you haven’t been on a vacation in years.

But eventually, kids grow up. Your wallet is (somewhat) your own again. You don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to check on someone. We will have done our jobs and our kids will be smart, capable adults who can stand on their own two feet. We will have done it. And that makes the sacrifice worth it. Trust me on this.


  1. Oh this is wonderful. Its a perfect reminder to moms (and parents) that the sacrifices we make today are for a better tomorrow. You are so right, it may seem like it’s bad now, but it’s not forever, kids do grow up. What’s even more amazing is that they draw on your life experiences to help them guide them through theirs. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. A-to the MEN!!!! It will all be worth it. An internship at Essence would have been fabulous. But you know what? All things work out the way they are supposed to work out and your life right now is pretty fabulous anyhow.

  3. Thank you so much for this post! I, too, am a 20-something mom and I, too, dreamed of being the editor of Essence. After becoming a mother in college I thought that dream was overly ambitious and, inevitably, impossible. Your encouraging words are much-needed and greatly appreciated!

  4. Christian says:

    This is so beautiful and very inspirational. My dreams have changed so much since becoming a mom, I too worked on the newspaper and yearbook in school and majored in journalism my first year of college. I wanted to be editor in chief at Seventeen magazine at the time. However my life took a turn in another direction and at the time I thought it was the worst thing ever, but it all turned out for the best. I met my husband, got a promising job that I could have turned into a career if I wanted to and then I got pregnant and ultimately made the choice to stay at home and raise my son. When I look back at what my life could have been if I had pursued journalism and become a writer, I think: it could have been great, but my life now is pretty great and I probably have much more now than I would have had if I would have stayed on that other path in life. On the upside I am young, and will still be young when my son leaves the nest and I can still do a lot of things I want, I may never be a writer but dreams change and there are plenty of other things I would like to try my hand at and not to mention that my son will be starting school in a few years and I can have a little more freedom to do other things with my time.