Starbucks Syndrome by Noreen Heffernan


My husband and I always shake our heads in disbelief when we pass Starbucks. Who are those people and how do they have the time to sit with a cup of coffee and read the newspaper in the middle of the day? We want to be them. Doesn’t that sound luxurious? Let’s go relax with a caramel macchiato in hand and a blueberry scone in the other. Or, let’s just meet at Starbucks and chat about nothing at all. I mean, it isn’t like you pass Starbucks and it is ever empty?! There is always someone there sitting at the table with their computer (working from home?) or with someone else at the table chatting it up (business meeting?). Or are people just pretending to be busy? Who knows…

The whole idea of Starbucks is to belong to something bigger than ourselves. The coffee is good but the idea of the coffee is better. It is the ritual. Sometimes ideas are actually better than the reality of it. I don’t drink coffee anymore so for me, the idea of iced green tea from Starbucks is definitely better than the actual drink. The Starbucks Syndrome. Parenting is a lot like that.

We have it in our heads, the way we think we should be, or the way we think we should parent but the reality is that we will never live up to the ideals, and that is ok. I don’t want to throw the TV on mid-day, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I need to. I know I should be creating a craft or being involved. But, I honestly need the down-time. So, I do it. It isn’t ideal. It is necessary. Oftentimes, we find out that we do things because they are necessary, because this is reality, and because we live in an imperfect world. Ideals are what we can strive for, but we don’t have to live up to them on a daily basis.

And I have to be ok with that.

We have ideas of the way we think things should go, birthday parties, trips to Disney, beach days, pool days, etc. They never go the way we think it will go. They will never be that cup of coffee with a newspaper on a Tuesday at 10 am.

This year, I have decided to scale down my daughter’s birthday party. I always did the big party at the big place. The truth is, I know my daughter and I know that she doesn’t need all that. She will be happy with cake, her family, and her best friend. That is enough for her. When I go above and beyond and try to perform the “ideal,” it is really never what she wants. The “ideal” falls flat for both of us. I want her happiness over the big party. It just isn’t her cup of tea. So, we will see how it goes. I feel guilty but that is on me. Scaling down is what she needs AND what I need right now in my life, for all of us. I’m setting the over the top ideals, aside.

Because what is it all really about? Nothing is going to ever be what we think it might be. It will never go as planned. It will never be the best of the best, the greatest day of all. And even if we get that cup of coffee on that Tuesday afternoon, it won’t be what we see when we drive by. When we drive by, what we don’t realize is that nothing is ever what it seems. Maybe the person sitting there is lonely or jobless. Maybe, if we get that moment, we will sit there and think to ourselves, this is nice, but you know what would be nicer?!

Or maybe we would wish we were home, with our family.

~Noreen Heffernan,Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies


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