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Thanks to Motherhood, I Have a New Vice

Photograph by Twenty20

I never used to drink coffee. Like, at all. Or soda or tea for that matter. I was one of those people who would get so jittery on caffeine that I just avoided it at all costs. Then when I was 25, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and told that caffeine was one of the main things I should give up. While no one could explain to me why or how caffeine might affect my condition, it wasn't that big a deal. Continuing to abstain was easy.

Until I became a mother …

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Just days before my daughter was born, I caved and had my first coffee in years. Ours was an unusual adoption, and I had been given only one week's notice to prepare for this baby I hadn't even been looking for (I was actually getting my foster care license with the plan to eventually adopt an older child.) The panic of that week of frenzied preparations can't really be put into words. There was so much to be done, and so little time; I had to do in days what most people accomplished over months. Then, even when I did try to sleep, my brain was so awake with excitement and fear and emotions I didn't really know how to process. So when I realized I was a total zombie one day, and that my little girl could be born at any point now, coffee felt like a necessary evil.

Coffee has become a bit of a necessity in my world, and it is all my child's fault.

What I hadn't been expecting was how much it would help. My brain felt alive again. I could form full sentences once more, smile and interact. I was even able to get things done at work, which I'm not sure anyone actually expected me to be capable of. Coffee was pretty much my savior.

So what happened next should come as no surprise. When my little girl was finally in my arms, and the real sleepless nights began, caffeine became a necessity. Because in the months that followed, I was still trying to prepare our home for her (the crib and rocker needed to be built, and the nursery needed to be painted), work from home (because not knowing I would be adopting an infant, I hadn't squirreled money away for maternity leave) and take care of a newborn full-time, on my own.

Oh, I didn't mention I was single? Yeah …

My daughter was nearly 5 months old before she went to daycare for the first time, something I put off for as long as I could. During most of that initial period of motherhood, I was mothering all day and working all night.

I don't think I could have done any of it without coffee.

The thing is, I'm not sure exactly how addictive caffeine is, but I can tell you that my daughter is now nearly 3 years old, and I still can't give it up. Coffee has become a bit of a necessity in my world, and it is all my child's fault.

In her defense, I still work from home, often far too late and far too often. But pre-kid, that was never a problem. It is only now, when a tiny little human can be counted on to pry my eyelids open every morning, that my late nights spent typing seem a little unmanageable.

Of course, I manage them. Because … coffee.

If there are any mothers of young children out there surviving without it, I would like to meet them.

The worst part is, I can absolutely tell the difference caffeine has over my typical endometriosis pain levels. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it makes my condition worse. But I seriously can't stop. I have tried. I'll go a few days, maybe even a week, but then I'm dying for it. My head hurts, I've got the shakes, and I feel like I can't accomplish anything.

It's a good thing I've never tried cocaine. I'm pretty sure I would be a fan.

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But that's the thing … coffee is legal crack. And as a single mother, working as a freelancer from home (which basically amounts to fighting for work, MMA style, every single day) it's a much-needed boost I can't seem to survive without. Screw wine and chocolate, coffee is my motherhood vice. And if there are any mothers of young children out there surviving without it, I would like to meet them. Mostly so that I could tell them I think they are full of crap.

Or doing cocaine to survive.

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