The Cold Cup of Coffee
Recently I read two different articles written by two different authors about a cold cup of coffee. This cold cup of coffee was a representation of the struggles of motherhood. While both articles added enough cushion of the rewarding aspects of parenthood – the overarching theme was “I am last.”
Thus the cold cup of coffee.
Then I read an article about a spritely seasoned lady who worked three different jobs and lived off of no sleep to take care of her boys. She didn’t complain. Instead she said, “you do what you have to do to take care of your kids.”
My mom told me the very same thing when I asked her how she made it working two jobs after the divorce. She worked a day job and a night one. She came home, often fell asleep in the bathtub and then started all over again.
You just do what you have to do.
So getting back to the cold cup of coffee. I’m going to let you in on a little secret… you are last.
Moms are usually the last to eat, the last one to go to sleep, and the last one out the door. Would you really have it any other way?
I’m not forgetting the dads and others whom are raising the children as well. Everyone makes sacrifices, if you are invested in a child’s well-being. And love the child. You become second.
I am in no way discounting the hard days, the feeling of lost identity or inadequacy, or the sleep deprivation. There is a weird kind of loneliness you sometimes experience even though you are surrounded by little beings. Postpartum depression and anxiety are very real. I know from personal experience. There is help for this and there is no shame.
All the struggles and sacrifices of parenting were present in the older generations just as they are today. It just seems there is a completely different perspective of parenthood now.
Are we just spoiled? Maybe. Possibly. Probably.
Maybe it’s due to the quickness and accessibility of the internet -- the ease at which we can vent our feelings.
Even so, are we starting to glamorize the suffering? Are we minimizing the blessings of parenthood and amplifying the tough parts? Are we comparing trials like we compare fortunes?
My generation is hard-working and intelligent. Most of us are college-educated, not a qualifier for intelligence though. We are innovative. We are anything but lazy as described by the mainstream media.
But we are expectant.
That is part of our problem – expectancy. We complete 'A', then expect 'B' to happen. A lot of us waited later to start our families. We were settled in careers and spending our time and money on ourselves.
Want to go on a weekend getaway at the last minute? Sure.
Drinks with friends? Absolutely.
Nice dinner out for two? We deserve it after a long work week.
We are smart, but expectant. At some level, we expected life to change but stay the same. If that makes sense. Our child will just come along for the joyous ride. We can still do all the things, just with a cute sidekick.
We read “What to Expect When You Are Expecting.”
Of course, we knew ahead of time about changing diapers and some sleepless nights. The first couple of months will be a tad difficult and different from our norm. We expected to breastfeed. The sleep training book tells us the little guy will sleep through the night at six weeks.
Then things don’t go as planned.
Our expectant tendencies can make our realities so much harder. Then at times are expectancies are ruined in good, unexpected ways.
Maybe you don’t do the single parenthood thing for long. Cue, Brady Bunch family. There is always a deployed partner who surprises his wife at the last minute. She didn’t have to give birth alone. And we are all crying watching the news clip.
Your child with Down syndrome shows you that life is just as beautiful even when slowed down. Actually better.
Maybe you were prepared for some defiant teenage years and you were pleasantly surprised. I expected terrible two’s and three’s, but they were a breeze. The ferocious four’s came rolling with a new level of intellect, a quest for independence and a sarcastic attitude for the punch. Oh and defiance.
We grow smarter and less expectant with the next child. The youngest sibling can usually get away with murder. I am the youngest. I can attest to this.
Children have a way of teaching us how to roll with the punches. They know how to break our expectations and yet exceed them all the same. They also know how to tug at our heart and see it is all worth it.
I’m not saying never to have expectations. Just don’t let expectations ruin something meant to be a gift.
We are in unexpected, unchartered waters this year.
Right now, grace needs to be extended to ourselves and others. Grace needs to replace expectations.
You can’t be everything all at once. You can’t give one hundred percent in one area and assume an additional one hundred percent in another.
Right now, “You just do what you have to do.”
Right now, there is no expecting. If 2020 has turned out like you predicted, are you living in the same world? If you are, you better have hedged against the market and are now living out life on a secluded island.
Instead we are secluded in our own boats. There’s a storm. The waves are tumultuous. The boat is a rocking, but not in a good way. And the bird is gone, but he never returned with the olive branch.
I’ve read it multiple ways by different authors. Either we are in the same storm but with different boats or same boat, different storms.
The truth is, whether it’s about parenting or just living in general – we have never been in the same boat or storm. Some of our boats have more holes and take on more water. Some of us are puttering back to shore with a broke motor.
Others are drinking wine and eating cheese on the sundeck. Don’t believe the latter is always better. Think Titanic.
A lot of us are floating around, wondering what’s next. And some days it feels like we are floating on a piece of wood like Rose in the Titanic trying not freeze or drown or both. Muttering to ourselves about the “unsinkable yet obviously very sinkable boat.”
What is next?
All forecasts look like a continued season of no expectations. I think He is teaching us how to live one day at a time. Tie your expectancies to an anchor and sink them for now. Let Him be the anchor.
Right now, provide for your loved ones the best you can. And acknowledge your best will be different every day.
Expect some pretty bad days, expect some good ones. And then expect a whole lot of in between days.
But expect life to move at one day at a time right now.
Expect Him to show up in your days. Expect Him to fulfill His promises.
Expect that He is in control. An uncertain world, calls for a certain God. An unknown future calls for an all-knowing God. And believing all of this calls for a very faithful person.
Faithful even while floating on a piece of wood in the frigid water. Because, 2020 feels like an iceberg sinking the unsinkable. But He’s our Jack. Jesus is right there with you in the water. He’s also the guy in the boat who will dry you off. And He will be there when you step on sure ground.
He knows what’s next.
Believe in His assurance.
Expect as a Believer, you will be provided for. But remember provision doesn’t always look as we expect.
Sometimes, it tastes like day-old cold coffee.
For now, keep it hot in a thermos. There will be a time when you can sip from a ceramic mug again.