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Stop Trying to Fill Your Cup

Enough with people telling us to fill our cups. It makes no sense and it’s an analogy that leaves an uncertain understanding of how to execute it without feeling guilty.



“You’re tired? That’s because you need to fill your cup.”


“You’re not able to give your all? That’s because you cannot pour from an empty cup.”


First of all, are we filling or pouring? There’s only one way in and one way out of a cup, so what’s its purpose? Really what the metaphor means is to take time to recharge. However, there is an underlying tone in today’s society that if mothers are taking time to fill their cups, we’re doing just that: Taking time for ourselves.


When the cup is empty, there’s this stigma about filling it; many of us call this stigma self-care and often riding on self-care’s coattails is mom-guilt.

I always imagine these attempts to fill our empty cups as thousands of mothers standing in line, surreptitiously hunched over, ragged and exhausted, waiting with their empty cup for a few drops from the spigot. It’s not a casual walk with a pep in our step to the water fountain with smiles and cheerful greetings. Filling our cup shouldn’t feel shameful or like another thing on our to-do list.


The cup isn’t working, so let’s throw it in the garbage. Really, we should think of our proverbial cup as a watering can. Here are three reasons why:


1. A watering can fills on one end and empties from another.

This clear delineation helps define the difference between what we need and what we are able to give. The first step to using a watering can effectively is to fill it. If we don’t know what to fill it with then we can’t effectively pour from it. So, we must first figure out the best method to fill our watering can.


2. It can fill and empty at the same time.

Moms rarely, if at all, have time to truly disconnect. We don’t get to stop “momming.” We are like Air Force One. We can refuel on the move and our primary focus is to get everyone to where they need to be, safely. Our watering cans are capable of the same: Attach a hose and voila! We’re filling and emptying at the same time.


3. Most importantly, watering cans do not work when they’re empty.

When we can recognize that filling our watering can empowers us with the ability to decide how we fuel and who we fuel, then we fill ourselves with what we need most, and we are able to pour that love more abundantly back into the world.


Be choosey with not only what you put in the watering can, but who you choose to pour it onto. The time and energy it takes to fill and pour deserve attention and intention.


No more pouring out the only drops we have in our watering cans for all the rest. No waiting in lines at the fountain. Find your own spigot and open it, returning with your watering can for a refill as often as needed.


The grass really will be greener and the flowers will be standing taller because you are filling your watering can.



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