"take care of yourself"

Dear Mamas,

Do people ever tell you to take care of yourself?

Girl, why do they do that?

People tell us to take care of ourselves as if we’re forgetful people. As if we let things slip. As if we flutter through our days, blissfully oblivious to our own growling stomachs or full bladders.

"Take care of yourself.” It wants to be an expression of love but it always hits me like another chore I didn't do, something else to feel guilty about failing at, like making a dentist appointment.

Sorry I didn't make myself a hot breakfast; you’re right, it is the most important meal of the day. But I couldn't bear the idea of dirtying, then having to clean another pan.

Sorry I didn't take a long aromatherapy bath; you’re right, all the studies say it helps you sleep better. But the tub was full of sand for some reason?

Sorry I didn't start a book club; you’re right, friendship isn’t an afterthought. But group emails are a pain in the ass, everyone replies all even when they’re only talking to one person, and nobody ever has the same night off.

Sorry I didn't get to yoga; you’re right, it is good for my back. I just wanted to lie on a couch under a blanket tonight. You call it couch potato, I call it savasana. Let’s agree to disagree, mmkay?

Because, it’s funny, even though I haven’t done any of the things you think I should do to “take care of myself,” I was starting to feel like the ability to make my own choices about what would feel good for me WAS -- ACTUALLY -- taking care of myself!

Listen, I don’t want to clean the mystery sand out of tub so I can soak in it. I want to close the bathroom door and wait for the mystery sand to return from whence it came. Boom. Took care of myself.

I don’t want to get back in the car to drive to the hot yoga studio. I want to watch Succession in my fleece pants and play sudoku. Boom. Took care of myself.

I didn’t want to eat breakfast. I wanted to drink coffee. AND OH, ‘TWAS COFFEE I DRANK.

“Take care of yourself.” It wants to be a reminder that I’m allowed to have wants and needs, but it hits me like a murmur of disapproval that the things I want and need aren’t correct, somehow.

Like there’s something wrong with my self-love because I WANT to stay up too late tonight and not get enough sleep so I can finish writing this piece. And I NEED to eat a pack of Pokemon fruit snacks while I do it. Sorry, did I say a pack? I meant a box. A box of packs. 72 packs. It was a Costco box. My tummy hurts.

But is it incorrect of me to WANT to see my friends, but NEED to be alone tonight so I can really, truly switch off?

“Take care of yourself.” I seriously did, though! I texted my friends I’d see them later, then I took a walk alone at dusk and listened to a murder podcast until I got creeped out because the dead lady in the podcast was taking a walk alone at dusk and nobody ever saw her head again. So I picked up a stick to beat back the murderers and switched to a 90’s pop playlist. I bopped my stick-wielding ass safely home, lip-syncing to Britney, bitch! IT WAS GLORIOUS.

"Take care of yourself." It wants to be a validation of my needs but it hits me like a snarky frenemy who pats me on the hand and says, "You look tired."

You know what? Yes. I am tired. No, I’m more than tired. I'm pooped. And I’m in good company. You know who else is pooped? SIMONE BILES AFTER SHE WINS THE GOLD. RUTH BADER GINSBURG AFTER SHE PENS HISTORIC DISSENT. MY FRIEND MEG AFTER SHE KEEPS FOUR CHILDREN ALIVE EVERY SINGLE DAY DESPITE THEIR BEST EFFORTS TO PERISH. If this is Team Pooped, I’ll be your Turd Mascot.

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Today, every day, I PR on LIFE. I leave it ALL out on the floor, morning, noon, and night, and you know, it's funny, but I was starting to feel like I was pretty fucking bad ass.

I keep all the plates spinning at home, at school, at work, at the bank, on the field, in the separated and rinsed recyclables, in the studio, at the doctor, YES I donated blood, YES WE ALL GOT FLU SHOTS, YES I bought more drinkable yogurts, YES the mango ones baby, Mama knows what you like.

My children get breakfast, lunch, dinner, and nine square snacks every day including at least one mandatory cheese, and it’s so cute that you think that’s a fucking given. I am the holder of the bedtime gate, the destroyer of cavities, the reader of stories with all the good voices, and I am the person who first noticed when my son’s eyes traveled across a word on a page and his mouth started to form its sounds.

I'm prrreeeetty sure I'm a majestic bald eagle gold-medal Wonder Woman Captain Marvel blue flame throwing champion, AND SO ARE YOU. Champions work hard. Champions get tired. We have earned a nightly face-plant in our unmade beds.

OH YES, I also met my deadline, and YES I finished that piece and sent it off for a sensitivity read, YEP I responded to the emails and returned the library books and paid the fines and FUCK it’s trash day I almost fogot but I FUCKING DID NOT.


BUT NO. I DID NOT MEDITATE TODAY. Instead, I wrote this screaming power ballad dedicated to the best damn women I have ever seen. I know that the work you do, Mamas, is part of yourself, and taking care of your work is taking care of yourself, too. And yes, of course, I want you to be able to spend dedicated, self-loving, you-centered time on the GOAT in the mirror, but how and when you do that is frankly none of my business. You’ve got you. You’ve got EVERYTHING AROUND YOU. And if things start to spin out and plates start dropping, I believe you’ll let me know. I believe no matter what, you’re going to pick all that shit up again and keep going. You’re going to take care of it. Because Captain Marvel learned everything she knows from you, lady.

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There is no perfect way to do any of this. We are all constantly fucking up our parenting, womaning, partnering, friending, working, volunteering, learning, citizening, feministing, and yes, taking care of ourselves. But at the end of every day, you need to remember and so do I: you did more than take care of yourself. You took care of BUSINESS. You are an unprecedented phenomenon of light and force and I would not be surprised to discover that gravity bends around you when you face-plant into your unmade bed, mama.

Moving forward, let’s all agree on this: don't tell the people you love to take care of themselves.

If you feel the impulse to say “I love you” in that old way, stop. Remember that you don’t really want to of add something else to her to-do list, or insinuate (despite all evidence to the contrary) that she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, or point out her fatigue as if it were evidence of her failures rather than her magnificent valor. Don’t tell the people you love to take care of themselves. Just take care of the people you love.

Holy shit you are an opposite hurricane. You move through space and return it to order, functionality, and sandlessness. Can I send you a pizza? Can I grab you a coffee?

Want to talk shit about Adam Levine’s new cornrows with me for 10 minutes until the kids get out?

Want to sit silently on this bench while I stand in front of you and defend you from other people’s small talk until the kids get out?

I just went to Costco.

Want some Pokemon fruit snacks?

It’s my job to love you here - sometimes that means being curious about instincts or values, or translating our experiences. This time, loving you means writing a big-ass, not sorry hype lady post.

Know somebody who needs some big-ass, not sorry love today? Send this post their way. I don’t do paid ads because I don’t want to spam your timelines.

If you fist-pumped and want to turn that into a fist-bump, you can do that at Paypal or Patreon. I keep this blog ad-free because I like being accountable to YOU, not advertisers.

Thanks for being here, you glorious, once-in-a-lifetime flaming Phoenix eclipse of a person. Now go fall face-down into bed. You’ve earned it.