Coffee: The Intergalactic Mommy Vice

DIY GeekMom
I’m a sucker for latte art. This is a set from a competition, posted to Flickr by CairnsDining.

This morning as I clutched my steaming cup of java on the first sub-freezing morning of the season, I pondered how I went from being a non-coffee-drinker to considering getting a hotel-style one-cup coffee maker to put on my bedside table. I travel pretty regularly, and one of the things I love about hotel stays (other than a solid night’s sleep with no danger of a snoring husband or dark-fearing child) is waking up with a cup of coffee just feet from the bed.

Every coffee drinker has a story of how she came to be one. After all, very few of us spent our pre-K years with Folgers in our sippy cups. My parents weren’t coffee drinkers, so it wasn’t a habit I saw firsthand very often, although my grandparents did percolate a pot on the stovetop each morning. And they drank it hot and black, which is how I take my coffee now.

When I was in college, some brilliant mind who saw the opportunity to hook young adenosine receptors and dopamine production centers put a Starbucks in the cafeteria, which accepted the “free” bonus dollars that came with a school meal plan. Let me simplify that into 18-year-old college student language: Free Starbucks before 8 a.m. classes. Still, I thought of my beloved mochas more as a breakfast option (ha!) or a snack/treat, not as a daily morning ritual.

In adulthood, I was more of a tea drinker. Earl Grey, hot, as Captain Picard would say. But even my favorite 24th century starship commander, known for his tea, has coffee and a croissant for breakfast each day (see “The Perfect Mate”). An eight-ounce cuppa joe has as much as 240 milligrams of caffeine, compared to the same cup of tea’s paltry 130 milligrams or so. That extra 110-milligram jolt could mean the difference between saving the day for the Federation and being conquered by the Borg.

It’s an intergalactic dependence indeed. Whether you drink coffeine, kaf, synthi-caff, or raktajino, coffee is the universal language for, “I could use a nap, but this drink will do.”

I remember before I had children, a friend who did have a young daughter said he didn’t start drinking coffee until after she was born. I thought that was a bit silly–picking up this addictive habit fairly late into adulthood. It seemed a lot less silly when I had a kid of my own. Caffeine never affected me much before I became a mommy, but after I gave up caffeine for the pregnancy and breastfeeding years, I noticed a huge difference when I started drinking it again. And then I found myself turning that “bug” into a “feature.” A quick cuppa actually wakes me up, which comes in handy when you’ve only slept three hours at a time for months or years on end. Now I know why my friend didn’t start drinking until after his kid was born. I found that my tea habit started transitioning to a coffee habit for the starship-captain-worthy caffeine boost. But now if I drink one too many cups, I have to walk a lap around the office before I can get any work done!

As Sookie Stackhouse says of her tanning habit, “It’s my vice. Everybody gets one.” Looks like I’m taking coffee as my vice. I could do worse.

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