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Instant coffee fuels thoughts on love, good parenting and self improvement


Bitsy McCann

On a recent trip to Vermont to visit one of my favorite people, I became addicted to instant coffee. Yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking – freeze dried, just add hot water, instant coffee. I loved it so much that Shirley (fav person) sent me home with some for my pantry.

I am telling you this so you can better envision me at 11:04 p.m. on a Wednesday, not having showered for three days, still working on projects, chugging this glorious instant coffee like my life depended on it, and thinking to myself, “Am I really still at my computer doing this?”

Two seconds later, I hear my daughter’s voice from the monitor. “Help,” she says as she knocks on her bedroom wall just to make sure I can hear her. Up I go for the second time that evening. As I dragged my tired, unwashed body up the stairs, I couldn’t stop the smile that spread across my face. I really do love being needed by her. I could, however, do without the lack of self-care, the bone-deep exhaustion and the annoying fact that time does not stand still – no matter how convenient it would be for me.

Parenting is such a mixed bag. There is sometimes so much love in your chest that you feel like you could burst wide open, but there are also all these major draw backs that go hand-in-hand with raising a child: no sleep, no “me time,” inability to catch up, emotional rollercoastering (is that even a word?) and a house that is seemingly never picked up.

Like any good social media user, I jumped online to see how my other friends feel about parenting. I am inquisitive by nature, and especially when I’m feeling aimless in my thoughts. I lean heavily on other people’s stories to find connection and commonality.

I posed the question, “Biggest positive and biggest negative of being a parent?” (You don’t have to use full sentences on social media, FYI.) I received more responses than I hoped for – including one from my brother, Matthew, who has no kids, but made mention of his cat’s litter box situation.

Over and over, people told me the greatest positives of being a parent were the unconditional love you feel for your child and the magic of watching these little people grow up and develop their own unique personalities.

The negatives were more scattered. There was obvious mention of lack of sleep, the mess, teenage attitude and bodily fluids. But there were also some negatives that, with my toddler, I hadn’t considered yet: inability to fix your child’s emotional pain, parental guilt and the honest realization that your life will never be truly your own again.

“Your life isn’t your own anymore.” This comment from my friend, Andrew, made me take pause. He was so incredibly right. Before Coraline, I did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I drank like a fish, swore like a sailor and chowed down like a competitive eater.

Since Coraline, it’s not just the amount of personal time that’s changed, but it’s also the huge alterations I have made to my life. I have cut back on drinking (partly) and swearing (mostly) and found a way to make healthier habits sustainable. I am forcing myself to become better because I want her to naturally have good habits. Our children watch everything we do, right? They learn from what we say and how we act, so I knew that I would have to modify certain aspects of my life.

I want her to enjoy eating vegetables and love going outside. If that means I have to eat raw spinach (gross) or act super jazzed to go on a walk in 90-degree weather (gross), I am more than happy to do it.

I want her to one day find a partner who will treat her with love and respect. Gone are the days where my husband and I say whatever we want, however we want to each other. We have been forced to completely modify the way we argue because we want to be an excellent example of what a good, loving relationship is.

I want her to love who she is no matter her abilities, her size or her appearance. In this department, I am incredibly grateful for the gift my parents gave me with their unconditional love and constant cheerleading. I was a straight up ugly duckling for over a decade, and I knew it, but I still loved myself with every fiber of my being. I hope I will be able to teach my daughter to feel the same way about herself.

My life definitely isn’t my own anymore. But when I drag myself upstairs at the end of a long day and peek in on her beautiful sleeping face, it doesn’t seem like that big of a burden at all.

“Your life isn’t your own anymore.”

Good. I don’t want it to be.

P.S. I grind whole beans in the morning, so leave me alone about the instant coffee.

P.P.S. Thank you to all my friends for your thoughtful contributions to my question. Because of your comments, I definitely have more to think about and expand on for future articles.
Read about Bitsy’s story of how she surprisingly became a parent here.

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