By Catherine Martinez

We talk a lot about investments at Smart Women Smart Money: such as regularly contributing to your 401(k), increasing your savings, or investing in your career. Wise financial investments can help you create a secure future for yourself and your family. But lately, I’ve also been thinking about the unique opportunity that women are given to invest in motherhood and other people.

Motherhood can be a sacrifice, but I think it’s best described as an investment.

Moms of little ones don’t live glamorous lives. We change diapers, wipe up spit up, deal with tantrums, and wake up at all hours of the night. It’s the most exhausting job I’ve ever had—and last time I checked my bank account, babies and toddlers don’t pay well. But each of these small actions is an investment in my children’s future, which makes it the most worthwhile job I’ve ever had.

Our culture values big success stories, the women who start successful businesses or win an election. I think they should be celebrated! But there’s a lie going around that children will take away from your ability to achieve great things as a woman. Don’t believe it! 

But ladies, I’m here to tell you that children don’t have to hinder your dreams. In fact, for me, they’ve made my dreams more vibrant and given me new aspirations. I’ll never forget looking into the eyes of my newborn and realizing I would do anything to make his life better. 

Motherhood is an investment—not just in the children we’re raising but also in ourselves as women. The more I invest in my children’s hearts, the more my own heart grows. It’s in this giving that I get that much more in return.  

Maybe you’re not technically a mother, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t mothering someone. You might be the caretaker of an elderly parent, a guardian of a young family member, the go-to friend who everyone can depend on, or a beloved aunt who your nieces and nephews look up to for guidance. Each time you offer a listening ear, a warm meal, or a selfless act of service, you are mothering. You are investing in people by caring for their hearts and souls. 

This is the most critical investment anyone could make—in the lives of others. Selfless giving is contagious. And can you imagine a world where selflessness is the standard? 

Motherhood is not an inconvenience—it’s foundational to all our futures. Fellow moms, you need to know:

Each booboo you kiss,

Each time you look for a missing shoe,

Each meal you prepare,

Each financial and personal sacrifice you make,

You are changing the world.

I did not start a Fortune 500 company, and I probably never will. But in the short three years I’ve been a mother, my children have helped me achieve goals I didn’t know were possible. They have invested in my soul as much as I’ve invested in theirs. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, future moms, those longing to be moms and stand-in moms! You are irreplaceable! 

Catherine Martinez is a contributing writer for Smart Women Smart Money Magazine. She can be reached at [email protected].