I am not a tube of toothpaste.

In my home, we’re thrifty. We try not to waste. We use things until they’re really gone, adding water to shampoo bottles, scraping out the rest of the sunflower seed butter with a spatula, and squeezing every last drop out of that toothpaste tube.

All those things are fine and good. Here’s the problem, though: Sometimes I treat myself like that toothpaste tube, trying to get just a little more out.  Sure, I can take care of that. Yes, I can pull myself together to get that done. 

If I just squeeze a little more out, it will be enough.

But an interesting thing happens when you squeeze those last remaining bits out. Oftentimes, the tube starts to break. Little stress fractures form, and the outside is no longer intact.  Even if we were able to refill toothpaste tubes, the ones that got squeezed to the last drop would no longer be usable.

Here’s the thing I need to remind myself: There is no glory in getting squeezed out. No prize for neglecting self-care. No marytr’s ribbon for ignoring my basic needs. In fact, the opposite is true.

I think we all can think of a story of a supermom who gave too much – a friend’s mom (or even our own) who had a breakdown, got burnt out, or some other crisis. 

There’s so much pressure to always be “on”, to be attentive to every need, to volunteer at every function in the name of providing your kids the best possible childhood, to put their needs ahead of our own. While it seems noble at the time, we’re actually selling our kids short.

A few months ago, I read an article asking what kind of teacher I would want for my kids: a well-rested, well-nourished teacher who was following her (or his!) dreams, or a sleep-deprived leftover finisher who barely has anything left to give.

In that context, it was clear. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that being well-nourished and well-rested isn’t always possible. The year I had preemie twins and a 3 year old, half of my diet was the Oatmeal Cranberry Dunkers from Trader Joe’s. 

But when it IS possible and we still skip taking care of ourselves in the name of “giving more”, we’re on a dangerous path and setting ourselves up for being squeezed to the point of breaking. 

On this Mother’s Day weekend, let’s collectively pronounce that our health, rest, and mental state are important too, and give ourselves permission to sit down, drink a cup of tea, read a chapter in a good book, call a friend, do your nails, or whatever fills you up. You’re worth it. 

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