Addictions. What Are Yours?

Parenting, for me, includes more situations resembling contract negotiations than I’d like to admit. Some days my head hurts too much to be all “my way or the highway” with my kids, so I attempt to negotiate rather than beg. Perhaps the key word is “attempt”. Yesterday was a negotiation day. Because I had to run to the grocery store with Littlest. I attempted to sweeten the deal.

Me: “All we need are four things. Just four. Carrots, cabbage, a birthday card, and half-and-half. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezey.”

Littlest: “You’re sure?”

Me: “Of course I’m sure. Just those four things! Come on, it’ll be fun. Like a scavenger hunt!”

Littlest: “Uhhuh.”

Me: “Please, can we please just run to the store and get this over.”

Littlest: “Well, I suppose so.”

Halfway home I clutch my head and moan. “Littlest, what were the four things we were supposed to get?!?!”

Littlest scrunched up his face and tapped his lower lip with a dirty index finger. “Let’s see. Huh. All I can remember is a birthday card and cabbage.”

I hold back a sob and say, “We forgot the half-and-half.”

Littlest may have gasped a bit. “Oh no. Because the half-and-half is for your coffee and without it, you can’t have any coffee. This is really bad Mom. Because coffee helps you calm down and  feel happy.”

Now before anyone panics, I acquired more half-and-half and have sufficiently coffee-ed myself into happiness. Mister Soandso and I got a giggle over how well Littlest knows his mama and ha, ha, we all went on with our days.

And then, this morning, I read Aiden Donnelley Rowley’s blog. As I read through her blog, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling along on my iPhone while standing in front of my Keurig waiting for it to finish dripping, I read faster and faster. Is she going to tell us she’s pregnant again? Another book sold? Moving? What???

I wasn’t expecting it to be about wine. So go ahead and read her post and come back here. I’ll wait for you. And I’ll drink another cup of coffee while I’m waiting. Go on. I’ll wait for you so we can all be on the same page, so to speak.

See this cup of coffee sitting on my desk? It is as much a part of my life as a writer as the keyboard, mouse, and scarred desk. I didn’t always drink coffee just like I didn’t always write. But both are firmly a part of who I am today.

Now that Biggest is a middle schooler and sarcasm is his number one social skill, he regularly tells me when I have coffee breath. And I have to admit to thinking about that. I have become a person whose children attach certain sights and smells to and I’m not sure how I feel about coffee breath being a primary one.

Who I am today.

Because this coffee? This coffee which seems so banal and of no import is a very important part of who I am today.

Littlest knows that coffee helps calm me down and feel happy.

In other words, coffee has become something that I use to make it through my day. A cup in the morning to wake up, a cup mid-morning to keep focused, a cup in those late afternoon hours when I need a nap and instead have hours of parenting and writing ahead of me. Rinse and repeat.

If I were to substitute the name of a drug for coffee, all those in reader-land would assume I have an addiction and wonder about making a phone call.

But since its coffee, no harm, no foul. Right?

It occurs to me that to live this thing called life is to need something to get us through it. When that thing we “need” is seen as socially acceptable, no one bats an eye. But when that little something we turn to in order to calm down and feel happy is seen as sordid or distasteful, then all bets are off.

All around us are bits and pieces of people’s coping skills in action. I drive past the meth-heads with their scratched up arms and hollowed cheeks. I flip through tabloid articles touting the benefits of cleanses and enemas. I listen to the weekly banter counting down the days until Friday happy hours. I tuck my “baby” into bed with his “lovey” and blanket.

We all need something to get through this. Some are destructive and some only soothing. But we all need that one thing.

For me, it may be coffee (even decaf works to some extent).

But even more than coffee, what gets me through this thing called life are the people who hug me in spite of my coffee breath. The people who notice I need calming, that I need some happiness.

Its when those people are missing from our lives that we must find something else.

Some are missing because they left us too soon. Some are missing because they never found us to start with. And some are missing because we must travel alone at least for this small stretch.

May each of us find ways of calming ourselves, of finding some small bit of happiness. And if anyone wants to get coffee, I’m up for it.

6 thoughts on “Addictions. What Are Yours?

  1. “May each of us find ways of calming ourselves, of finding some small bit of happiness. And if anyone wants to get coffee, I’m up for it.” Well said! I’m mentally clinking mugs with you! Thank for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Oh, I am so much your sister in this love of coffee. If I’m watching a sitcom and a character pours a cup of coffee – I want a cup. My husband knows the fastest way to my heart is to walk in the door with a Starbucks paper cup in hand. My children tease me about how much coffee I drink. Sometimes, when I’m working from home, I even make two pots in a single day. On a Friday evening I’m torn between having a glass of wine or a fresh cup of coffee. I like to attribute my coffee obsession to my Scandinavian heritage. (In fact, I think one reason I liked Girl with the Dragon Tattoo so much was that the characters were always sharing coffee!)

    Thank you for pointing us to Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s blog. I loved her candid post and now am going to go through her entire site reading more!

  3. “Addiction” is a slippery term. You might say, “I am addicted to breathing.” Or, “I am addicted to drinking water.”

    In my case, the term is still slippery. For some people, alcohol is a pleasant diversion and alleviation, with some possible health benefits if taken in moderation. The same can be said of coffee. However, for people with a tendency (because of genetics or habituation) to excess or bad reactions, no one is physiologically dependent on alcohol or

    However, I am addicted to food. For much of my life I have been overweight. Yet, no one can live entirely without food. My only consolation is that having a mildly addictive personality, I have become mildly addicted to exercise. (The serious addicts run marathons or compete in triathalons.) Balancing my two addictions perilously and uneasily, my weight, my blood pressure, and my insulin level are reasonably under control; at least my doctor kindly informs me.

    The other thing about any addiction, including oxygen and water, is that withdrawal is Hell.

  4. OK – I read Aiden’s blog post. (Aiden is a girl? Aiden a girl’s name? Next you’ll be telling me there are girls called Sean and Robin. Oh… Right. America is a great country.)
    Going off the booze – I’ve done it occasionally – but haven’t enjoyed it or noticed a benefit.
    Going off tea was different – harder but I lost some weight. Did that for a year.
    But back to your coffee – you’re kind of spoiling the impact of a cup of coffee for yourself by raising your body’s tolerance so high. A break from it might give you the chance to enjoy the original jolt once again.
    It’s all an act of will type thing anyway. Some substitute helps (if you want to cut down) – something to grasp in your hand when you reach out for coffee. Water maybe – but in a coffee mug? (Er… you can tell I’m no advice expert.)

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