A yellow mug.
When I picture my mom during my childhood, there’s almost always a yellow mug of coffee in her hand. I can still see it—on the counter as she cooks dinner, next to my blue math textbook while she homeschools m, and in the car cup holder, filling the small space with the faint smell of coffee as she drives us to our extracurriculars.
As a kid, I had no idea that the yellow mug was answering a question many search their entire lives for an answer to.
One winter day, I climbed into our small silver car with a friend. My mom reached for her yellow mug that had been sitting in the cold car for hours . . . and took a drink.
“Isn’t that coffee cold?” my outspoken friend asked, furrowing her brows.
“Yes,” my mom smiled at us from the front seat. “It’s refreshing.”
My friend shook her head, “My mom only drinks hot coffee when it’s cold outside.”
My mom nodded as she started the car, “Most people do. But cold coffee is good too.”
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After my friend’s comment, I started to notice that my mom would happily reach for her yellow mug, no matter what temperature the coffee was. In the summer, wiping sweat off her face, she’d reach for the cup, boiling hot from sitting in the sun and mumble, “Mmm, warm coffee.”
Now, let’s be honest. My mom wasn’t trying to teach me a life lesson. She was just a tired mom who liked coffee.
But now, looking back, I realize that the yellow mug taught me about being content.
It’s very “in vogue” to want the opposite of what you have. Childless couples are supposed to want kids while those with kids are expected to wish for quieter days. Stay-at-home moms are expected to feel guilty for not contributing financially, and working moms sometimes feel guilty for not being home more. Those with little kids just want some sleep, and people with bigger kids miss the toddler days.
And—as my friend pointed out to my mom—in winter, you’re supposed to wrap your hands around a scalding hot drink, and in summer, you’re supposed to sip on anything icy and cold.
But what if we follow the yellow mug principle and happily accept our lives—and our coffee—exactly how they are?
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Recently, while my husband worked a long shift and I took my son to a park, I started fighting guilty thoughts of my own. Why do I get to have fun with our son while my husband works so hard?
And later that day, folding laundry, I thought, I wish I was better at housework. It seems to come so naturally to my friend Stephanie.
That night, as I stepped on the scale, I thought, If I could just lose 10 pounds, I’d feel a lot better about myself.
Then, walking into the kitchen, I spotted a red mug of coffee sitting on the counter, still full from when I poured it several hours earlier.
I stopped, took a breath, and quieted my thoughts. I said a prayer of thanks for a life full of fun park days with our son, laundry, and food.
Then I reached for the red mug, took a sip, and smiled.
The coffee was ice cold.