This one’s for you, forgotten coffee cup

Coffee mug left on the counter

Every morning I make a cup of coffee. Rain or shine, work day or weekend, I look forward to that morning boost every day. I drink it with a splash of cream so it ends up a wet sand color, and from that first toasty sip, I’m in love. But since becoming a mom, and especially since working from home during a pandemic, I’ve begun to neglect my daily mug of joe. 

Instead of reveling in the warm deliciousness, I reheat it over and over again. I find it in the microwave, cold and alone, hours after I meant to drink it. My reflexes have improved as I snatch my coffee a split second before my daughter crashes it off the counter, coffee table, or fireplace mantle. Even these near-death experiences for my dear java have done nothing to rekindle the connection we once shared. 

But today, as I finished the chilly sips of my morning cup at around noon, I realized something: the things that steal me away from my warm coffee are some of the things I love most:

  • A voice begins singing at 7:15am — straight from asleep to the middle of a melody, my little songbird is awake. I put down my freshly-brewed cup and head upstairs. 
  • Back downstairs, I’m almost late for a Zoom meeting for work, so I quickly get out the Play-Doh in hopes of maximizing self-guided entertainment during the meeting. I log on and realize my coffee mug is still on the kitchen counter, and I’ve already turned my camera on. Sigh.
  • Time for a quick reading break. I reheat my cup, place it on the aptly named coffee table and we dive into some Richard Scarry. Between animated voices and “me do it!” page turns, the drink sits untouched, but thankfully un-knocked over, on the table.
  • During lunch we often take a walk to the park down the street. I think about transferring my now twice-reheated coffee to a traveler mug, but I know I’ll need my hands free for grasping tiny fingers as we cross the street, pushing swings and holding the pine cone treasures we accumulate along the way.
  • Hours later, I go to microwave something for dinner and find my coffee cup, with just a few gulps left, still bidding me “Rise & Shine” at 5:45pm. I laugh and chug the final sips over the sink while my daughter twirls and jumps around the kitchen for her personal dance party. Honestly, it tastes pretty gross at this point, but I feel like the poor cup has earned it — and so have I. 

And so every day contains at least some of these dilemmas, and my coffee and I don’t share the special moments we once did. But as I look back on what keeps me from my coffee, I wouldn’t change a thing. 

So raise your forgotten mug with me, if you can find it, and let’s appreciate the relentless, exhausting, adorable, amazing distractions in our lives. These are the things that I want to remember, after all, long after my coffee has gone cold.

My coworker refuses to wear pants: working from home with a toddler

I have (thankfully, gratefully) been able to work from home since the middle of March due to COVID-19. My toddler, who was 17 months old when this started, has been with me every one of those days.

Working full time from home with a toddler has been a lot of things. It has been silly, like the other day when I tried to do a Zoom meeting from the front porch and had to chase my daughter down the sidewalk with my laptop in my arms. It has been sad, on days when I have felt like I’m letting down my kid and my job at the same time. But it has also been sweet, like watching her splash in the kiddie pool while I finish up newsletters on a sunny Friday afternoon.

I thought I would share some things I have learned from this silly, sad, sweet time of working from home with a toddler, in the hopes it may connect with or encourage or you, or even help you better understand your parent coworkers right now.

Normally I would dress up for work, grab Starbucks with my coworkers at breaks, and have conversations about adult things like immigration policy or reality TV.

These days I mostly wear clothes that can get peanut butter on them, and I have to code switch constantly from work mode to Mom mode and back again, often in a matter of seconds, all while remembering to put my microphone on mute.

I have learned to find humor in the interruptions, the squeals and fart noises my daughter contributes to conference calls. And I smile when I open my planner to find an abundance of scribbles across every spread from now until Christmas. What we’re doing is weird, and it’s okay to feel that.

There have been hard moments during this time. I have had deadlines I had to meet, and a screaming toddler I have ignored in the name of getting things done. I have let her watch longer episodes of TV than I would like, and gotten frustrated with her more than once.

For a long time I would apologize when my daughter would interrupt a conference call, or scramble and say “I’m so sorry” when she would scream over my contribution to a planning meeting. I felt unprofessional and embarrassed. But then I read articles like this one from Fatherly and felt empowered.

I am not embarrassed or sorry that I have a kid, and I am not embarrassed or sorry that I have a job. The two happen to be more intertwined than ever right now, and that’s okay. Since this realization, I have stopped apologizing, which has really helped my confidence. Plus, Rosie has gotten really good at Zoom.

With all the strangeness of this COVID-19 season, we have appreciated the extra time at home and have seen how we can come together and help each other. We have received help from both of our parents, siblings, and others who have stepped in with childcare, plumbing assistance, and food deliveries to help us get through important meetings, a kitchen renovation and more. I have grown in my ability to ask for help when I need it, and to see strength in that rather than weakness.

I get to share a leisurely breakfast with my kid every morning before I open my laptop. Rosie creates homemade birthday cards as a conference call distraction and we mail them to friends. My coffee budget is almost down to zero. There is a lot to be thankful for.

I don’t know how much longer we will keep working like this. And it is still hard on some days. But when my daughter recognizes my coworkers’ faces on Zoom tomorrow morning and cheerfully greets them as part of the team, I’ll remember that she is part of the team — even if she doesn’t follow the dress code.