Mary Beth Johnson is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. She is currently writing her first book in between school drop off and laundry piles. She can be found every day on Instagram and at the local coffee shop. Contributor post by Sweet Marybeth!
I’d like to introduce you to one of my biggest life changes: the honey cinnamon latte.
Before kids, I had no real interest in coffee. I did not grow up with nostalgia around the smell of lattes brewing in the mornings or my parents sharing a cup before starting the day. With 14 children in our family we were more get-up-and-go people, not sip-and-savor people. My brothers and sisters and I would be up at the crack of dawn, starting on our school lists by 5:30am. We ran a tight ship and with 14 kids you kind of have to.
I became a mom at 20 years old and while I had years of experience raising babies, I had very little experience enjoying life. I knew work. I knew resilience. I knew sacrifice. I knew how to put everyone first and put myself last. I knew how to experience joy through watching my children enjoy life, but I never stopped long enough to ask myself what I enjoyed. And for a long time, this worked for me.
The day I stopped to ask the questions, “Who do I want to be like?” and “How do I want my kids to remember me?” is the day my parenting began to shift. The people I admired and wanted to be like when I grew up were the people who sipped and savored. These were the kind of people who worked harder than anyone I knew, yet they laughed harder than anyone I knew, too. These people were the type of people who would learn about themselves, so they could then learn from others. These were people who poured into themselves so they could then go out and give from abundance, not scarcity.
This idea that you would fill up your own cup was a novelty to me. I had been raised to believe that the people who thought about themselves were purely selfish and narcissistic. I had never thought about the ripple effect our intentions can have on others. I’d never thought about how the energy we put into our actions would multiply with time, for better or worse. I couldn’t stop thinking about the kind of energy I was putting into my cup and how I had the choice to fill it or leave it empty.
I think all of us, at some point, begin to think about what we’re leaving our kids. Not only what are we leaving them, but what are we living out for them? Only we can make that choice, not anyone else. This is where the honey cinnamon latte entered my life. I began to think about how I wanted my kids to laugh and enjoy the fullness of life. Stop and savor. I had always gotten up before my kids, but it was a peeling-out-of-bed situation where I tried to get as much work done as I could before I was interrupted. I decided to reverse this and start with something I enjoyed. I experimented, like a scientist creating the perfect potion. I bought an espresso machine. I got really into making fancy drinks, doing yoga, reading, and writing again. Before I knew it, I had a quiet little routine I looked forward to every morning. And my cup started filling up.
Your best hour may not be at the start of the day, it may be during nap time or after you’ve tucked all the kids into bed. To all the weary mothers out there, start somewhere. Find a time to give back to yourself. Then, leave a legacy of pouring back out of that fullness onto others.