What a waste. That was my exact thought as I pulled a perfectly baked breakfast casserole out of the oven.

In an effort to calm the back-to-school crazies, I stayed up late and did all the things so this casserole would be ready to pop in the oven first thing in the morning. Then, in my perfect little domestic scenario, it would be piping hot and ready to serve up to my three girls and my hubby before they left for the day. It’s their absolute favorite and fulfills the many dietary restrictions of our family, clearly making me Mother of the Year. Better yet, there would be leftovers for the next morning as well. #winning

But here’s the thing: You have to remember to put said casserole in the oven. If you do not, it will not be done in time for anyone to enjoy it, and it will sit there on the counter, mocking you and reminding you that you are not, in fact, Mother of the Year and you may never actually get your act together.

What a waste.

The frustration I felt threatened to ruin my mood and maybe my whole day, but then another thought came to mind—one that was gentle, not condemning, and one that felt a little like a hug from God . . . It’s not a waste. You still need to eat.

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It was such an obvious truth, and yet it felt so foreign to think that the one who would enjoy this warm meal was me.

Because that’s not really how we do it, is it? Usually, we are so busy caring for our people that basic human needs like nourishment fall to the wayside and feel secondary and maybe even optional. We either skip the meal, eat the leftovers on someone else’s plate, or throw a granola bar down our throats on the way out the door. Surely, preparing something decent for ourselves is a waste of time—even though we actually do need to eat too.

But there I was, staring down at a warm meal that could serve me just as well as it could serve my family, and somehow, I didn’t even register it as an option. At least not initially.

Fellow moms and caretakers, this is not right.

As I sat down and enjoyed the fruits of my own labor today, I was reminded of a lesson I have to keep learning:

My needs count.

I am worth the time and effort.

There is no guilt or shame in that.

Maybe you need that reminder too?

Ask yourself: When was the last time you made the time to sit down, eat a nice, warm meal, and even more so, not feel guilty about doing it?

When was the last time you served from the overflow of your own self-care and not at the expense of it?

And I’m not talking about pedicures here (although they are awesome). I’m talking about basic needs like eating, sleeping, moving your body, and getting some fresh air.

Maybe today is the day you believe you are worth the time and effort.

The reality is this morning wasn’t a loss, and it certainly wasn’t a waste.

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When my kiddos come home, I know they will enjoy that casserole as an after-school snack, and I know I’ll catch my hubby eating it on the couch later tonight after he finishes his workout. I also know there will be leftovers for tomorrow morning.

In the end, my people will be fed and my mama heart will be full.

And by the time they all leave tomorrow, odds are the casserole dish will be empty, and I’ll be left to scrub it and find something else to eat for breakfast.

But that’s okay.

I’ll know who got that first piping-hot piece, and I’ll smile as I remember how well it served her, too.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

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Lisa Bonnema

Lisa is a freelance writer and editor, but her true passion is encouraging women and sharing her faith through speaking engagements and all things social media. She has been married to her husband Jeff for 21 years and is “a mom in progress” to three strong girls and one giant dog.

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