Now with less caffeine

I alluded in my first post for NaBloPoMo that there is lots of new with me since I last posted. I’ve covered the name change, the gym going, and here’s another big change: I am coffee-free. Some might not consider this a big deal, but for me, it was a process that took months, yes months, to get down to zero coffee.

How bad was my coffee habit before? I don’t know – it’s all relative. I had at least two cups in the morning, and usually a cup in the afternoon. I drink plenty of water, but I would mostly drink green tea throughout the day, so I was always on caffeine. It was easy to justify – I have a stressful job, a kid who isn’t the best sleeper, but most importantly, I love coffee. Love everything about it – the smell, the warmth, the way it can be hot or iced, the way our culture supports the habit with drive-throughs and coffee dates. I was always ready for coffee.

“I Like Coffee,” by artist Summer Pierre,

Despite my constant stream of caffeine, I was always tired. Tired in the afternoon, tired in the evening, tired when I woke up. I wanted that to change.

What made it even more difficult to consider quitting is that my husband has a major coffee addiction. He would prepare a French press each night to, as he said, “make it from 7 to 9 p.m.,” or as many parents know, the witching hour of the final part of a day with a kid – they playing, bathing, negotiating, putting to sleep, etc. Come 9 p.m., Miss Red is always still awake, and he’d want to make art, read, or relax.

So starting last March – yes, that long ago – I started weaning myself. I’d allow myself one cup of coffee in the morning, then drink green tea. Then, half a cup. Then, a quarter cup. Until I was down to one cup of chai tea in the morning. It took me months. I don’t even know how long.

Want to know the dirty truth? Once I quit, I started waking up before my alarm. I was able to stay awake a little longer each night. I wasn’t as tired in the morning or afternoon, or if I was, I reminded myself that I would have been tired if I was drinking coffee. I’m not as irritable.

Other changes? My husband chose to cut down, too. And he started to feel better, too. Keep in mind that I am not caffeine-free. I still have one cup of chai tea in the morning and one cup of green tea in the afternoon, but I do my best to limit it to that amount. If driving for work, which I often do, I’ll have an iced tea, but that’s it. I’ve had decaf a few times to get the taste of coffee, but I’m doing my best to limit that, too.

Do I miss coffee? You bet. Coffee was like that guy in college I kept talking to for some reason, even though he never quite met all my needs. I still dream about coffee. When I head into a coffee shop, as I did with my family this morning, I drink in the smell. But I stick to tea. I really do feel better. It’s like I’m me, New and Improved, albeit with less caffeine.



I never expected to be a stay-at-home mom, or SAHM, as I’ve learned to call it from the mommy blogs.  As a child my vision for myself was of a woman striding down shiny corridors in high-heeled shoes, the sound of which I associated with feminine power.  Instead, I wear this year’s Birkenstock sandals to the playground and wipe the sand and grit off my feet when I get home.

My right to claim SAHM status is limited. I was home full-time with my daughter for the first year of her life and then worked part-time (just twelve hours a week) for the next two. I’ll do the same with my son, born three months ago, and I don’t plan to work full-time until both are in school.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my decision to be primarily at home.  In retrospect, it seems that it wasn’t so much a decision as the path of least resistance; things seemed to flow in that direction and I didn’t do anything stop them.  It helped that I was in graduate school when my daughter was born and so could simply opt out of teaching for two semesters. A big reason I didn’t want to work was nursing-mother laziness; I flat out refuse to pump. Another is my belief that this is what’s best for my children, but I’ve known for some time that this cannot be my sole or even primary reason; this has to be what I want for myself. Likewise, I recognize that I cannot do this in expectation of some sort of future payoff; I cannot expect or hope that my children will be any smarter, kinder, or better adjusted than those who spent less time at home. The experience of this time has to be its own reward. In this regard, parenting has been one more teacher in what I have come to recognize as my personal life’s work: living in the present, staying in the moment.  As a dance instructor once said to me, I could enjoy the process more.

A friend told me recently that she could never stay home full-time and asked me how I do it.  I have asked myself this very question, and I find it difficult to answer because I don’t really feel that I am “doing” anything.  To me it feels similar to being pregnant: a relatively small amount of time devoted to a particular state of being.  Being pregnant, like taking care of small children, is often demanding and exhausting and tedious and frustrating, but we don’t ask ourselves how we “do it.”  We just do.

So I decided to interpret this question literally. 

Mommy's juice

Here, roughly in the order in which I employ them, is my list of things that get me through the day:   

  1. Coffee
  2. Twenty minutes of yoga or Pilates, subject to comments from three-year old and interruptions from baby
  3. NPR
  4. Out of the house from 10-1, preferably with mom friends *
  5. Nap with baby for one hour in the afternoon while non-napping three-year-old watches PBS **
  6. NPR
  7. Assign husband to three-year-old the minute he steps in the door
  8. Get into bed immediately after children are asleep
  9. Read New Yorker or novel for forty-five minutes
  10. Sleep ***

 *          Mom, or Dad, friends are the key to success.
**        Some people, including myself, consider this cheating, or at least bad form.
***     As much as possible with night-nursing baby.

– AC

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