Not just any Iced Coffee Mom. I want to be a Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee Mom. No disrespect to other coffee chains, it’s just that Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee is pretty simple, no fancy milks or sweeteners—just really cold, uncomplicated joy. I want to be able to effortlessly throw my three kids into the minivan and say we’re off to “Dunks”, a common Massachusetts nickname said by regulars because saying Dunkin’ Donuts is too long and formal and ridiculous, like calling a sibling by their full name. “I’m just gonna hit Dunks wicked quick and I’ll meet ya in the park in a few,” I’d say to my friend, if I had one. But I do not have friends, and I do not drink iced coffee. I am an “Anxiety Mom.”
By “Anxiety Mom” I don’t mean that I’m over-protective, or helicopter-like. I’m not perpetually nervous about upcoming events for my children or hypersensitive to society’s standards of motherhood. I don’t obsess over milestones my kids may or may not meet. I like to pat myself on the back for being pretty balanced in these ways, at least on good days. I’ve always battled in the past with what I thought was manageable anxiety, but after the birth of my children my inner chemistry somehow altered, and with each postpartum period my anxiety continued to spike to unholy levels, bringing along new, hellish symptoms: persistent panic attacks, chronic debilitating pain and fatigue, a constant fear of impending apocalypse, just to name a few. I’ve had moments where I thought for certain I was having a stroke or heart attack, leading to several ER visits. I’ve had countless scans and tests. I’ve had gallons of blood taken and seen numerous specialists. As more scary diseases get knocked off the list, one ugly word always remains: anxiety.
When I’m dealing with anxiety, which is most of the time, simple errands often feel like reckless circus acts. Aside from the regular mom stuff: sleep deprivation, bottomless dirty diapers, and a schedule fit for a workhorse—most of my days are spent staving off a perpetual monster of symptoms. Anxiety and caffeine in general is a chancy combination. Drinking iced coffee when anxious is like literally swallowing liquid dysphoria. It is an instant bellyache and a fast acting laxative. It is rapid irritability and heebie-jeebies on crack cocaine. And all that, brewed with panic, and mixed with three small kids is an anxiety mom’s rack and ruin.
“Anxiety Mom” isn’t one of the top cliché mom stereotypes. Recently, a BuzzFeed video circulated the Internet poking fun at several “types” of moms, and featured the over-organized PTA Mom, the pretentious Parenting Expert, the all-organic Crunchy Mom, and the authentically cool Hipster Mom. Finally, along comes late, disheveled Hot Mess Mom, running from the parking lot with “poop or chocolate” stained on her shirt. Like most women who circulated the video, I most identified with the Hot Mess—I am almost always feeling sloppy and covered in barf or boogers. Hot Mess Mom represents the so many women who feel like they will never get their shit together. The Hot Mess wanders outside of the well-dressed, perfectly manicured mom bubble. And yet, as much as Hot Mess Mom felt like me, there was one minor detail in the video that stood between us—an iced coffee. Sure, she could barely dress herself, and didn’t know what day it was, but suddenly with an iced coffee in hand, she was no longer a hot mess, and instead the fearless, informal mom, one who not only had the courage to socialize, but could also nonchalantly pick-up an iced coffee on the way. She was an Iced Coffee Mom.
To me, Iced Coffee Mom radiates ultimate relaxation, and perpetual summer. It’s giving zero fucks like the suburban iced coffee mom, Nancy on the show Weeds, where in almost every scene she has a claw-like grip over a plastic cup. It’s Britney Spears silently proclaiming, ‘Here I am, totally not crazy, and getting shit done,’ holding a gigantic iced coffee in front of her like a torch on her way into the studio. It’s the mom following her toddler around the playground thoughtlessly sipping on her own peace and ease. It’s the woman in the grocery store who is so strong she can one handedly push a jumbo plastic racecar-shaped shopping cart with three children inside and gulp an iced coffee in the other.
Being a mom is hard, but being a mom with anxiety can sometimes feel insurmountable. There is nothing I would love more than to wash down the daily demands of motherhood with an iced coffee. I want to walk into Dunks and coolly saunter up to the counter with my train of children whether they are behaving or misbehaving. I’ll order a large iced coffee, cream and sugar, because—fuck it. I’ll reach into the diaper bag and pull out one of those humungous custom Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee coozies because I’m a fucking professional. I’ll hit the park and bravely face the other moms, every type of mom, with a presuming smile and nod—the unspoken, sarcastic mother-to-mother look that says, ‘Motherhood, right?’ Maybe I’ll even mingle a bit, sipping on stone cold stamina—an Iced Coffee Mom, showing them how it’s done.
About the author: Kate Hanson Foster is a mother of 3 and writer from Groton, Massachusetts. Her first book of poems, Mid Drift, was published in 2011 and was selected as a “Must Read” by Massachusetts Center for the Book. She is currently writing a book about her experiences with postpartum anxiety. Kate can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.