There was a time in my life before children. It’s difficult to fully recall because my memory is lacking these days (I blame children). I remember moments of walking into a Starbucks and how I would take my time looking at all their beverage options. After I ordered, I would peruse their new, cute mugs with whatever deco-art brilliance was printed on the side. I would grab a pound of coffee off the shelf, hold the air vent up to my nose and squeeze the bag, slowly breathing in freshly roasted beans. Picking up the small espresso shot glasses, I would reflect on burnt fingertips from pouring espresso shots into lattes when I worked there. My name would be called as I approached the counter and lingered a hello to the barista. And after putting the lid on my latte I would make my way to the cozy-corner chair, take out my book and read while I sipped.
After moving to Humboldt, I begin to notice every coffee shop has a drive-thru and most of them were only drive-thrus. And, while the weather certainly plays a part in the need for such a thing, I figured we must all be so addicted to our coffee that the delight in slowly sipping a creamy latte was of no importance.
Then I became a mom and everything changed.
Even thinking about unloading that devil-made car seat carrier out of the car with a very heavy, chubby 7-month-old and a diaper bag on your shoulder and you look like hell and your child is screaming and heaven help me, I JUST NEED COFFEE. Oh yeah, you also have your hurricane of destruction toddler with you who also sees the cute deco-art coffee mug.
No. There’s no way I’m going into a coffee shop.
Life has become a constant three-ring circus where you’re just trying to keep them alive while also hoping coffee shops won’t from ban you for life because you. need. coffee. now.
Drive-thrus were made with mamas in mind.
It’s the little things in life, like a drive-thru latte, that can bring us moms enough small moments of peace to make it through the day. As moms we are always giving of ourselves, never sitting down, back pains, laundry piles, dishes caked with food, Elmo’s creepy voice in our heads, playing hide-n-seek, wiping a nose, kissing tear-stained cheeks, re-heating that same cup of coffee for the sixth time in the microwave, desiring quiet time in the bathroom, and trying not to look like a mess. So a drive-thru latte might be your only nugget of grace for today.
Moms, we give so much of ourselves and we need to learn to refill. How many of us feel like we’re in starvation mode because we have given, given, given to where we feel like we’re barely hanging on and so hungry to be seen, appreciated, valued, and cared for?
We must learn how to self-care. How to find space for soul care. When you get on an airplane, the flight attendant tells you to put your own oxygen mask on first before you put on your own child’s. This is important for life, not just airplanes. Moms today often experience guilt from not having everything perfect: perfect kids and house and marriage and hair and schools. The desire to uphold this facade reveals how many would rather die on their white horse of perfection than let anyone see them fall off.
Mama, can you see you might be slowly suffocating and dying? Your kids have their masks secured tightly in place but you will be no good to them if you haven’t taken care of yourself.
So my question is this: What fills you back up? What allows you to take deep breaths and find peace? Maybe it’s simply a latte in the drive-thru or even throwing mascara and lip gloss on. Maybe it’s as simple as a short walk alone every morning to remind yourself of yourself.
For me, prayer quenches my weary soul, knowing God is with me in my mothering. The dishes will still be in the sink. My children will still be challenging and difficult. My marriage will still need better communication. But my mask will be on and I can breathe while I care for my family.
Bethany Cseh is co-pastor of Catalyst Church in Arcata.