I am a tea enthusiast. I treat myself to specialty teas, and set them up in sparkling glass canisters, so that when I open the cupboard doors, my eyes are treated to a spectrum of possibilities. Dragon phoenix pearl jasmine, red raspberry leaf, chamomile, assam, english breakfast. Whatever my mood, my taste, my intention, there’s a tea in the cupboard that matches it.
Workday mornings start with a bracing cup of English Breakfast, with one spoon of sugar and a splash of almond milk. I have just enough time to stir in the milk when Rowan, who’s four, comes tiptoeing out of the bedroom to find me. We sit, we sip tea, we discuss our dreams, our sleep, and our coming day.
Usually that’s the point at which we are joined by Kestrel, who’s one, and his Papa. Papa drops Kestrel on my lap with Rowan, and sidetracks to make his coffee, and a second cup of tea for me, if I’m looking groggy still. Rowan asks Kestrel all the same questions I just asked him, even though Kestrel only speaks a few words at this point.
From there, our days unfold. I usually head back to my desk in my home office, to perform the tasks that, as one co-worker calls it, “pay for the kibble.” A cup of green tea of some kind (often Republic of Tea’s “Chop Wood, Carry Water”, for the mindfulness) comes with me. While I’m attending meetings by phone, answering emails, and editing articles, I can listen to the boys playing with their Papa, who handles breakfasts, stories, and playclothes.
I consider myself incredibly lucky to work for a company that strongly encourages telecommuting, because not only has it allowed me to stay home, it has enabled me to remain square in the middle of the boys’ lives while providing financial stability and medical benefits for the family. I take breaks from work to read stories, build legos, lay down with them for naptime. Sometimes they come in and sit on my lap and watch me type, and I read them the articles I’m editing. Sometimes they play “working in the office.” Sometimes, they ask me to build forts, play dolls, or draw pictures. I step between worlds like I step between rooms.
Heading into the afternoon, it’s time for a pre-nap story and a cup of chamomile, or Stash Tea’s Sandman P.M. blend of lemongrass, chamomile, and a light green, which soothes my work nerves, and eases the boys into the flow of sleep after a morning of play. After the boys fall asleep, I tiptoe out of the bedroom, replenish my cup, and head back to the computer.
Rowan almost always sleeps longer than Kestrel does. I break away from emails and essays, retrieve him from the bedroom, and put the kettle on. I take a moment to examine the canisters, to allow my eye to roam along the length of them and be delighted.
The great thing about afternoon is that it’s the end of my workday, and the point at which I treat myself to a cup of one of the more exotic teas, something that is really deeply worthy of focus and ceremony. Lately, it’s been Tea of a Thousand Charms. I used to think that sounded so mysterious and noble, until I figured out that it was a euphemism for “this is what we swept up from the packaging room floor and labeled as a blend.” But even knowing that, a cup never fails to make me somehow happier, more grounded, than I was without it.
Tea of a Thousand Charms. Day of a Thousand Charms. Each one is just whatever we swept up off the floor, all disjointed bits and pieces, and we can choose to see them as a mess, or as a summation greater than its parts. Me? I choose the fuller cup.
Laureen is a writer, a professional editor, a scuba instructor, a beginning sailor, a traveler, and an obsessive researcher who's chiefly focused on, and delighted with, her husband Jason and her sons Rowan and Kestrel. She's a lifelong Californian, which lends a very distinctive spin to both her ideas and her politics, and she's discovered, in her peregrinations, that the world is far smaller yet far more fascinating than anyone gives it credit for being. She holds forth her opinions on that in her blog, The Elemental Mom