My husband and I took our children to soccer practice last weekend. The town we live in offers a youth soccer club for children of all ages. Our four-year-old son’s practice starts at 8am on Saturday mornings, and our six-year-old daughter’s practice starts at 8:30. The temperature outside that morning was in the 30’s, and there was a thin layer of frost on the grass. My son had woken up cranky and annoyed, and fought us on just about everything from what he would or wouldn’t eat for breakfast to what he would or wouldn’t wear to practice. Each article of clothing was a struggle; his sneakers, socks, shin guards, even his pants were too tight, too hot and not the right color. Once he got to soccer he was thrilled, which is often the case with our son and probably the only reason we retraumatize ourselves every Saturday morning at the crack of dawn.
Our daughter seemed happy to go … at first. But when her cleats got soaked walking across the frosty field, her easygoing attitude took an about face. Her socks were wet, her feet were cold, her toes had shooting pains, and after about five minutes of practice she was in my lap, miserable and in tears. To be completely honest, my feet felt the same way, and my toes hurt too. Who was I to argue with her? I simply tried to keep her toes warm until my son’s practice was over and planned to then make a mad dash for the warmth of the car.
Maybe because my feet were wet and cold, maybe because I hadn’t had time to eat breakfast myself, or maybe because I was just tired and impatient, I was in a super cranky mood. I really just wanted a warm cup of coffee. Sometimes a cup of coffee is all I can ask for (or hope for) on an early Saturday morning when faced with a day filled with child-centered activities and birthday parties. My son’s practice ended and, despite my daughter’s shooting and debilitating pains in her feet, she asked to stop first at the swing set and then the jungle gym on the way to the car. I started to feel a little sorry for myself and for my cold, wet feet. That all-too-familiar rant began in my head. You know, the one about how tough my life is and how cold my feet are … blah blah blah.
And then I saw a woman I know. She had been at soccer practice with her three children. Her children were roughly five, three, and not yet one year old. She had her youngest in a stroller, and her oldest had been at soccer practice with my son. I started to do the math in my head (up and out of the house for an 8am practice with THREE kids, one still a baby, on her own) and grudgingly tried to pull myself out of my downward spiral. “Pull it together,” I said to myself. I had only TWO children and my husband was there with me and had been with me in the cold, wet and cranky trenches all morning. That really was a walk in the park compared to what she was juggling. As I walked by her car to say hello, she was transferring her baby from the stroller into an infant car seat and strapping her other two children into their seats. I heard some familiar and run-of-the-mill defiance from inside the car. I stopped feeling sorry for myself … for roughly three minutes.
My husband and I decided to go into town with the kids for a coffee. We struggled to find parking in town, and once we did, we negotiated two meltdowns and one Game of Thronesesque sibling fight to the death on our way to get coffee. As we opened the door to the coffee shop, who was coming out holding a cup of coffee? Somehow this remarkable mom (of three) had found parking nearby, disembarked with her whole crew, navigated the busy street, entered the coffee shop, waited in line, and was heading out of the store carrying her infant car seat in one hand and her cup of coffee in the other. I am in no way saying that it was easy for her; it was, no doubt, a herculean feat, but she was managing beautifully.
To Have Coffee or Not To Have Coffee I felt compelled to write this post in honor of this mom of three because every parent knows that moment of indecision. I really want something or need to do something quick for myself and yet the kids are “strapped in.” The sense of relief when everyone is “strapped in” and accounted for is immense and euphoric. And I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the energy exerted to get everyone in the car and “strapped in” can, on some days, seem monumental. Grabbing a coffee with the kids may, at first glance, seem easy, but on some days it’s literally like scaling a mountain with your children strapped to your back.
The following question has gone through my mind many times: which is the lesser of two evils, no coffee OR getting everyone unbuckled, out of the car, across the street safely, into the store, waiting in line (impatiently), tolerating little hands all over everything in the store, possibly or probably quelling a tantrum over someone wanting a cookie or cake pop, and then back out in the street with one less hand than you started with because you’re grasping tightly to that life-affirming cup of coffee? On the mornings after a sleepless or sleep-deprived night, the coffee easily wins out, worth any death-defying circus act to get the kids safely inside and out of a Starbucks with a latte in hand.
When I bumped into this mom at the coffee shop, I was still a bit grumpy. She made me smile. I knew how much a cup of coffee meant to me right then, and I bet it meant even more to her. As fellow moms, we get what this seemingly small, mundane moment means. We get the energy it actually took her to rally the troops out of the car for a cup of coffee. We get it!
I want to encourage us to notice it more, to celebrate it more and to express it more!
- To express our amazement and appreciation of moms out there
- To admit when we are inspired by another mom or when we have learned something invaluable by witnessing or being around another mom
- To say a kind and supportive word wherever and whenever we can
- To help out when we see a mom struggling
- To be kind and compassionate to each other
- To not judge
- To not criticize
- To be supportive and understanding
- To be there for each other
- To tell a mom with a tantruming child in the grocery store how amazing she is
- To think and say the positive thing, the affirming thing … not the judgmental and negative thing
- To let other moms know we are thinking about them, that we support them, and that we get how hard it can be sometimes!
I dedicate this post to that amazing mom of three and to all the moms out there who juggle and occasionally find time to do something for themselves. “Enjoy that coffee!”