I've made a new friend at Parent Pick-up from school. Parent Pick-up is one of my favorite parts of the day because we all huddle there by the school and solve all the world's problems in those ten minutes before our children come tearing out of the school like hungry wolves.
I've been admiring this one particular mother of three very young girls for some time now. She's consistently enthusiastic, patient, encouraging, and funny. She carries one child on her back in a fancy pack; one she pushes in a stroller; and one holds her hand. I think she actually may have another child somewhere. This woman represents everything I could never do! So I watch her. I watch, and I learn.
A few weeks ago, I just blurt out, "You have to tell me the secret of how you are such a great mom!"
I'm waiting for a list of books I must read, therapists I must visit, Bible studies I must join, or some supplement I must go into debt over. I fear she's going to tell me about more prayer groups, expensive housekeepers, boot-camp gym commitments, a gluten-free diet, or her educational afternoon craft schedule.
She turns to me with an alert smile and says, "Afternoon coffee."
"Really? That's it?"
"Yes," she says, but then she leans in with narrow, warning eyes. "But you have to be careful. Too late, and you won't sleep at night. Too much, and you won't sleep at night. You have to get it right. This is very important."
Just when she's about to lose her mind, she delights in her afternoon cup of coffee. I'm so happy I clap my hands together like I'm now one of her children. I had forgotten about afternoon coffee! This I can do! This I know how to do!
I pour myself a cup after school, and that night, I hardly sleep. The next day at Parent Pick-up, she approaches me with the seriousness of a doctor and says, "How did it go?"
"Too much," I report. "I need to go down to half a cup."
She nods knowingly. "Yes. Or have it earlier in the day. You'll figure it out."
One day, I'll get it right. One day, I'll pour that perfect amount, at the perfect time, that will give me the energy I need for another afternoon of snacks and homework and cleaning and drama and dishes and dinner. If not today, then maybe tomorrow. I'm just thankful that at least one great mom's secret had nothing to do with working harder and everything to do with coffee.
This is something I can laugh about over a nice little cup of afternoon coffee.