By Tracy Managing Editor
My relationship with coffee has ebbed and flowed throughout the years. And ultimately, it’s become an intimate relationship I have with the coffee bean.
It all began for me as a high school student, spending copious amounts of hours sitting around a Denny’s table with friends, ordering just coffee, first because it’s what most of us could afford, and second because we loved staying up to the wee hours of the night. Because, that’s what teens do, right? However, I probably consumed more creamer and sugar than coffee during these impressionable years of mine.
Next came college with morning classes, staying up late to finish papers, and getting up early to work magazine internships. Coffee was a must. And at this point, the consumption of coffee increased while the sweetness intake subsided. I even ventured to a semester abroad Italy where I began sipping on cappuccinos before taking the bus up to classes.
Fast forward several years to my move to bean town. (That’s Seattle for all of you non PNW residents.) Naturally, while sewing my oats, trying to figure out the direction my life would take, I became a barista. And I’m not talking about those pseudo Starbucks baristas who push a button on a machine to make coffee come out (don’t get me wrong, I love me a good pumpkin spice latte like the next person), but rather a full-fledged artisan barista, studying the nuances of single origin coffees, perfecting my tamping technique (it’s how you make the sweetest shot of espresso ever), and nailing the art of milk frothing, perfect to make one amazeballs rosetta or delicate heart. I became a coffee snob. Only drank it black, and insisted that a true cappuccino should be no larger than 6 ounces and when a customer ordered a grande one, what they really wanted was a latte with extra foam. Yep, that was me. Coffee snob to a T.
Then came grad school, student teaching, a full time job, marriage, and a baby carriage. And well, increasing coffee consumption.
A month before I got pregnant, I started decreasing my coffee intake because I knew that my reliance on it was too much to just stop the day I got those two pink lines. And I know that it’s perfectly fine to have coffee while baking a baby, but I knew that because of my love for the caffeine, it was best we sever ties.
Once I birthed my beautiful amazing baby girl, I had a much deserved sip of coffee. You know how you swoon over your first sip of alcohol post baby, well that was how I was with my coffee. I slowly began drinking it again, but by the time I returned to work, I realized how much coffee does a working momma’s body good, and I soon found myself stopping for a quick pick me up about once a week before getting the kiddo from daycare.
Then this school year happened. The one where I work about 10 minutes further away from home, and have to start about 30 minutes earlier than before, and my commute averaging 45 minutes each way. By 9am my first round of coffee is done. Cue the need to purchase a coffee maker for my classroom. Though coffee pots can be found in several places around my school, I knew I needed my own stash. You know, because I still have an air of coffee snob in me and insist on not being able to see through my cup of joe.
You would think that a little coffee top off midday would be enough, right? Well, not really. When you have a kiddo struggling to sleep through the night at almost two years old, coupled with the fact that the alarm goes off anywhere between 5:30am and 6:00am, and my day doesn’t end till about 10pm….after Abby is in bed and random blog/grading/curriculum planning is done. That’s one hell of a long day, right? So most days I find myself sipping on coffee as I’m making dinner, or trying to calm a tantrum throwing toddler. And really, for me, coffee has become something of a comfort. And as I began to worry that perhaps I was getting a little out of control with this coffee thing, two recent studies came out highlighting the benefits of this little addiction of mine.
According to a Reuters article, published in late September, “Women who drink four cups of coffee a day are 20 percent less likely to become depressed than women who rarely drink coffee, U.S. researchers said.” No wonder I’m feeling this sense of comfort. Alberto Ascherio, of the Harvard School of public health, though, “stressed that the study does not prove that coffee lowers depression risk — only that it might be protective against depression in some way.” Well, I will take all the protection my anxiety ridden mind can take. And the kicker is that this study spanned long-term coffee usage, and well, I could say that at the ripe age of 31, I’ve been drinking coffee long-term.
Then last week, USA Today reported that daily coffee drinking can lower your chance of getting a specific type of skin cancer. The article even states that, “ ‘The amount of caffeine consumption was inversely associated with risk,’ (Fengju) Song said, meaning the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk of skin cancer.” The specific type of skin cancer is Basal cell carcinoma, which is the most common skin cancer. And the kicker is the fact that it reduced the risk for 18% of women, and 13% of men, according to the study. WOMEN!
(I encourage you to click the article links above and read more about it. It’s pretty fascinating.)
Does this mean that I’m going to up my coffee intake even further as a working momma? Nope. I do need to sleep after all. But it lessens my negative thoughts about what I’m doing to my body by drinking coffee throughout my entire work day. I just don’t think I could make it through a work day without my coffee. And my students get it too…along with hyperbole and simile.
But I do have a giant fear. What’s going to happen when we have baby number 2? (We are currently in the talking about it phase of this new venture.) When I was pregnant with Abby, coming home to veg out on the couch, often falling asleep around 8pm was alright. I didn’t have anyone to chase after. But next time around, I will have Abby in tow. And I’m thinking, having the safe little bit of coffee will happen, perhaps mixing in a little decaf to trip my brain. That works, right?
What helps you make it through your working day? And working momma’s of two, please tell me I can make it through a second pregnancy, working, with a kiddo in tow, not able to consume as much coffee as I have been.