Dear Coffee: It’s Not You, It’s Me

I tend to eye-roll at “Mom stereotypes” (i.e.: yoga pants, wine, Target). But I totally get one of them: The coffee-drinker.

Coffee’s appeal is ubiquitous in our society. However, I don’t think I ever appreciated coffee as much as I did after giving it up for nine months, then surviving on a couple hours of sleep with a newborn. 

My husband and I killing time at a coffeeshop, shortly before finding out we were pregnant with our daughter.

The Ritual
There’s a general consensus that coffee has an acquired taste. As kids we wonder, “ew, how can you drink that stuff?” And yet, a lot of us become addicted as soon as we have to stay up late working on a term paper, or get an office job. Next thing we know, we’re meeting up with our friends at the coffee-shop to study. We ask all our co-workers, “who wants to go in on a pot in the break room?” The need for caffeine draws us in; the social ritual keeps us coming back for another cup.

The Gear
Level 2 addiction is when you need to have it at home. Sure, you could just buy a regular coffee pot. But maybe a single-serve machine is more enticing? There are so many cute pods to choose from. No, wait! – You don’t like wasting packaging. How about a french press, or a pour-over? Next thing you know, you’re buying whole beans and grinding them yourself. 90 degrees out? We’re going to need a cold brew system…

The Dark Side
Coffee wakes us up, brings us closer with friends who partake, and even helps with digestion. However, there are some medical conditions that it can aggravate. Sometimes I’ve had to cut back due to acid reflux. It’s also dehydrating, so you have to make sure to alternate with water.

The real kicker for me, though, has been its affect on anxiety. Coffee seems to amplify my usually mild anxiety symptoms. I had noticed that I would get extra worried about every day things that shouldn’t be a big deal (getting ready for outings with baby), on days that I had a bit of coffee to drink. Stressors, like The Holiday Season, can make this even worse. Recently, I began having signs of panic attacks (heart palpitations, tunnel-vision) when driving. Having my daughter in the car made these symptoms scarier – and prompted me to make a change.

The Separation
I’ve never been good at quitting things “cold turkey”. I don’t think it’s a good idea for non-life-threatening addictions, because it’s too tempting to cheat. So I’ve made a deal with myself: I will not consume coffee if I’m going to drive anywhere afterwards. I’ve driven across town and to some appointments so far without incident. I’ve felt sleepy – but not as much as when I sat at a desk all day. On my daughter’s rougher days I occasionally get headaches. But once I know that we’re “in” for the day, I treat myself to a little espresso, or even a nice black tea. 

Don’t worry, coffee. I will still indulge you on weekends, when more family is around. But on days when I’m carrying a heavy load of responsibilities, I can no longer rely on you. I need a clear head-space to tackle my to-do list.

Have you ever cut back or quit drinking coffee? Did it work for you?


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