Why Starbucks Hates the Wolverines, Not Jesus

So, last night, once the little children finally drifted off to sleep, I jumped online to read the trending news.  The most important item of the evening was something about Starbucks.  To my horror, I discovered that Starbucks had the audacity to redesign its holiday cups for 2015.  They actually eliminated all holiday themes and replaced them with NOTHING.  Their cups are PLAIN RED.

As a pro-snowflake person, I felt insulted.  Removing any winter-related design is a clear attack on cold weather.  I was about to create my own hashtag protest until I read comments from a former pastor named Joshua Feuerstein.  I was relieved to discover that the people at Starbucks don’t hate snowflakes.  They hate Christmas.

Now, I’m not a religious person, so I had no idea that this was how we should interpret the plain red cups.  I felt growing rage as I read about the “War on Christmas” and how much Starbucks “hates Jesus.”  I had no idea that the manger scene actually took place in the North Pole.  Were the Three Wise Men actually Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Reindeer and the Abominable Snowman?  Was Jesus born in the middle of a blizzard?  If so, then I completely understand the former pastor’s outrage about the elimination of the winter scenes from Starbucks’ cups.

After all, a strong religious foundation is based on disposable coffee cup designs during the holiday season.  If you take that away from religious people, what else do they have?  Where else can they go for faith?  Based on this logic, I was eager to join the pastor’s campaign against Starbucks.  After plunking down $4.50 on the Starbucks counter for my caramel macchiato, I told the barista that my name was “Merry Christmas.”  I chuckled inwardly as I waited for my drink next to the large “Christmas” blend coffee display.  Take that, Starbucks!  That’ll teach you to attack Christmas and Jesus of the North Pole.

As I walked through the mall, sipping my Starbucks coffee in its plain red cup, I heard Christmas carols.  In November.  It occurred to me that as an agnostic, this should offend me in some way.  So, I stifled the warm, festive feelings surging within me to muster outrage.  I wrapped my fingers more tightly around that plain red cup.  I could feel its power against the conversion music that blared over the speakers.  I didn’t want that music to accidentally convert me, so I quickly left the mall and its blatant “War On NON-CHRISTIANS.”

When I returned home, a friend of mine expressed outrage that Starbucks colors were green and white.  I frowned, as I contemplated his comment.  Those are the colors of the Michigan State Spartans.  On further reflection, Starbucks also has a lot of red and white in its stores.  The colors of the Ohio State Buckeyes.  With increasing concern, I realized that I hadn’t seen one single display in the store with maize and blue, which are the colors of the University of Michigan.  I could only draw one logical conclusion.

Starbucks hates the Wolverines.  And so begins my hashtag protest campaign:

#StarbucksWARONBLUE

The Five Reasons That I Love Starbucks

Clearly, I have addictive tendencies, because in addition to my Facebook “issue,” I have another problem.  Starbucks.

I spend way too much money at Starbucks.  It’s ridiculous.  Who pays $4-$5 for a cup of coffee?  What am I getting for the money?  Some steamed milk, espresso shots and flavored liquid sugar.  I mean, syrup.

So, what is it about that place that keeps luring me in?  Why don’t I take all of the money that I spend on caramel macchiatos and buy something to improve the “slobby chic” look that I sport each day?  Here are five reasons:

The Unlimited Supply of Caffeine

I’ll be honest.  I gave up coffee during pregnancy, so for a while, I functioned like a normal human being without it.  But after my daughter was born, I regained my dependency on caffeine.  Once again, I suffer from headaches without coffee.

So why don’t I just stay home and brew my own coffee?  You can’t see me, but I’m making a face.  I spend my days getting food and drinks for other people (a.k.a. the kiddos).  To me, it’s worth looking like a hobo to have someone bring me a drink for a change.

The Smell

I’m a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I do my best to keep the house clean and fresh.  But in the battle against stink, I’m losing.  Each day, I play two games:  “What’s that smell?” and “Where is it coming from?”  Is it food?  Is it old diapers?  Is it small animals?  I have no idea.  I think the kids are secretly stashing crap under the floor boards.  Why?  Either to get me to take them out of the house or to drive me crazy.

They’re successful on both fronts.  I can stay home with them and remain ensconced in the stench of decomposition.  Or I can go out in to the world, see real adults, and inhale the aroma of freshly ground coffee at Starbucks.  It’s no contest.  Coffee beats decomposition.

The Greeting

My children are adorable.  They really are.  But the way they greet me each morning leaves something to be desired.  My four-year old son growls at me.  I didn’t think I’d have to deal with this for another ten years, but yep.  He’s already a cranky nightmare when I have to wake him up for school.  My one-year old daughter smiles until I place her on the changing table.  Then she winds up to bite, slap or kick me in the face.  For some reason, she prefers to sit in her own filth.

When I go to Starbucks, no one growls at me.  Someone actually smiles without physically assaulting me.  It’s a refreshing change.

The Language

As a SAHM, I don’t get to travel much anymore.  I mean, my kids watch Barney and during the past season, that dopey purple dinosaur has been visiting different countries.  But he still speaks in English, so I don’t consider that foreign language immersion.  When I go to Starbucks, I get to pretend that I’m visiting a foreign country.  And not just any foreign country.  A really snooty foreign country where they treat you like garbage if you don’t speak their language.

For those of you who don’t know, Starbucks has its own language.  It’s called Bux-ese.  I’ve spent the past decade studying it, so I’m fairly fluent.  I can order a grande, nonfat, no foam, extra drizzle, caramel macchiato like a native.  So see, kids.  It pays to stay in school.

The “Crappy to Happy” Hour Shift

The social calendar at our house includes a daily event called “Crappy Hour.” Everyone is invited, but the only people who show up are my son, my daughter and me. It involves a lot of blatant defiance, yelling and tantrums. My husband manages to leave the house right before it starts. His excuse is work, but I have my doubts. I think he’s just going to Starbucks.

Once I manage to drop my son off at school without pulling the hair out of my head, I have thirty precious minutes before I have to rush my daughter back home for the morning nap.  Apparently, I’m not the only one with this window of opportunity. Sometime after nine in the morning, a herd of stroller-pushing SAHM’s descends on the local Starbucks. All of us have the same frazzled look.  We just survived Crappy Hour. It’s time for Happy Hour. Or Happy Half Hour. Whatever it is, we’ll take it.

Five Ways Karma Changed Me Since Becoming A Mom

Karma has it in for me.  You may not believe me, but it’s true. Since becoming a mother, I’m doing all sorts of things that I swore I would never do. Here are just a few examples of how Karma smacked me back to humble reality:

I never thought I could forget my purchases at the store.    

Last week, I officially lost my mind. I arrived at this conclusion when I nearly pulled out of the grocery store parking lot without my groceries. The teenager behind the customer service counter looked at me with pity when I rushed back inside the store and explained what happened. “Well, it could be worse,” the girl tried to console me, as she handed me my groceries. “At least you didn’t forget your baby in the store.”

Is this my future? Forgetting my children in public places? As I walked out of the store with my groceries in hand, I double-checked the stroller to make sure my daughter was still in there. Before having children, I never would have been this forgetful. In fact, there was a time when I probably mocked people for being this forgetful.

Naturally, I’ve forgotten who I mocked. But Karma doesn’t forget. And she holds a grudge. Consider yourselves warned.

I never thought I’d use a drive-thru window.

I admit it. Once upon a time, I didn’t understand why people used drive-thru windows. If you’re a healthy person, how hard is it to get out of your car, walk from the parking lot to the counter, and place an order in person? The drive-thru window at a local Starbucks was a special source of irritation to me. I would stand at the counter and watch several drive-thru customers get their coffee before I did. Why were most of the baristas catering to the drive-thru customers? Why was Starbucks rewarding sloth?

Obviously, things have changed. Since I tend to leave things behind when I step out of the car, it’s in my children’s best interest that I use drive-thru windows whenever possible. Karma must laugh her ass off at me since my daily routine includes hitting the same Starbucks drive-thru that I used to complain about. At least I haven’t driven off without my coffee.

I never thought I would drive a minivan. 

Let’s face it. There’s nothing sexy about a minivan. A well-endowed topless woman could drive around town in a minivan without attracting attention. Why? Because a minivan is a womb on wheels. No single guy in his right mind wants a piece of that action. In my “Single Girl looking for Mr. Right” days, there was no way in hell I was going to contaminate myself with this male repellent.

Fast forward fifteen years later to the arrival of child number one. And the bulky car seat. And the stroller.  And all that other baby stuff that new mothers feel compelled to lug around in case of an emergency. I remember driving my minivan for the first time. Disturbing thoughts filtered through my mind. Wow, this thing has a smooth ride. Hey, look! The seats fold flat! Look at all that storage! I could fit a house in here! My late thirty-something, sleep-deprived mom brain fell in love with the minivan and never looked back.  Yep. Cosmic retribution at its finest.

I never thought that I’d burn water in the kitchen.

Back in college, a friend tried to make pasta and ended up burning the water. Water. The girl burned water. Who does that? How is that even possible? As we rushed around her apartment, opening windows to let out the smoke and trying to figure out how to turn off the fire alarm, I wondered how she could have been so careless. How hard is it to pay attention to whatever you’re doing in the kitchen? This is why kitchen accidents happen. Because people don’t pay attention.

Karma smacked me on this one late last year. It was a rare day. The floor wasn’t crunchy and I looked human, so I decided to live dangerously and invite a visitor over to the house. Instead of offering my guest a refreshing cup of air, I put the kettle on for tea. It was all very Downton Abbey-ish. I did NOT set the timer because I didn’t want to look like a moron in front of company. I don’t need a timer, I thought. I’ll hear the charming whistle of the tea kettle when the water is done boiling. How delightful.

Fifty minutes, two tantrums, two dirty diapers and two dirty pull-ups later, I thought I smelled smoke. The fire alarm started beeping as I ran into the kitchen. There was smoke. Amid the chaos of my squawking children, I had forgotten about tea time. The kettle was still sitting on the red hot burner. All of the water had evaporated. The bottom of the kettle had melted and fused to the burner. I turned off the stove top and tried to unsuccessfully pry the kettle from the burner. So much for tea time.

I never thought I could love so many people so much.

This is admittedly sappy, so bear with me. I didn’t realize how much I could love someone until I met my husband. That love grew to amazing proportions when I had my son. But when I was expecting my daughter, I was actually worried. I didn’t think I could love another child as much as I loved my son. Maybe it was the raging hormones, but I had this bizarre notion that love was like a pie. A fixed pie with a limited number of slices. No more slices for you, second child. The pie is baked, the crust is done and I’m all out of love.

Or maybe I was just thinking about pie. I’m not sure. Well, whatever was floating through my mommy brain changed the first time I held my daughter. As I fell head over heels in love with my baby girl, Karma laughed at me. Silly, sleep-deprived mommy. Such a ridiculous thing to worry about. The first time I saw the two of my children together in the same room, my heart swelled with the realization that love grows. All thoughts of limited pie supply vanished. Well, not all thoughts.

Now that I want some pie, I’ll stop here.  This concludes my PSA about Karma.  She still laughs at me, but I’m okay with it.  I just do a headcount and a pie check before we leave the parking lot at the grocery store.

MY COMMENTS:  

Well, I’m not too surprised about this one.  Seven days have passed since I submitted this (my third) article to Scary Mommy and  “all is quiet on the Western Front.”   I’m assuming that since their turnaround time is 7 days and I haven’t heard back from them yet, this article was rejected.

After what happened at the grocery store a few weeks ago, I finally felt compelled to write about some of the major ways having children has changed me.  I’m still amazed that I could have done what I describe in beginning of this essay.  Truthfully, these days, I should be amazed that I still remember what happened.  If time travel were possible, I suspect that “Before Children” Taara would slap “After Children” Taara if she could see some of the stuff I do today.

As always, any constructive feedback is welcome.  Thank you for taking the time to read this!