… unless you’re a new mum juggling a wriggling baby, a breastfeeding apron, something to rest said baby on, nipple shields, your coffee, your phone, your buggy, your coat, your gloves, your headphones… everything you own… and then it’s bloody brilliant!
Before I had Aifric, the quest for the perfect flat white was true and real. It was life. Some were too cold (they were never too hot). Some were weak. Some were too small. Some were just right. All were drunk at wobbly tables with wooden chairs in tiny little brunch places – where the avocado is ripe and smashed, the eggs are runny, the tap water has cucumber in it and the waiting staff have rolled up trousers (DUDE, it’s WINTER. In ENGLAND. Cover up your ankles, for the love of God).
Then along came Aifric. And things changed…
- Experience number 1. These places don’t have changing tables. And the floor of the toilets are concrete (WTF?) so we had a little change on a concrete floor. There were screams. Ah-ha! I know what will calm this screaming, naked, pint-sized dictator. The hand-dryer! Bingo! Oh, it’s one of those hand-dryers that only work if you hold your hand directly underneath it. And it’s about half a foot away from where I’m changing Aifric. Cue the little dance of back and forth: change Aifric – she screams – stretch hand under hand-dryer – silence – continue to change Aifric – she screams – stretch hand under hand-dryer – silence… you get the picture.
- Experience number 2. Ordered a delicious flat white. Sat in the window seat. Holding Aifric. Wearing my Vans. The epitome of cool, chilled out Mum. Hipster-chic. But it was feeding time. The table was wobbly. It wasn’t a normal height (what is that about?!). There wasn’t enough space between the rickety chair and the table to place a baby. Aifric was getting restless. I was getting sweaty. The breast-feeding apron was choking me. The nipple shields were welded together for no other reason than sheer disobedience. Aifric started to cry. I couldn’t blame her. I felt like doing the same. We collectively somehow slightly nudged the table. Only slightly, but remember – it’s wobbly because it’s a COOL TABLE. The flat white spilt. MY FLAT WHITE. We were now in danger zone. God knows how we managed it but Aifric fed, my shoulders fell down about a metre and a lovely waitress mopped up my poor flat white.
- Experience number 3. ‘Hi, what can I get you today?’ ‘Oh, hello – please could we just have plain sourdough bread with butter? More than happy to pay the full amount for all the extra shizzle you want to serve it with, but we’d just like sourdough with butter. Thanks so much’. Waiter with rolled up trousers and a woollen jumper (you keep your upper half warm but let your ankles go cold? What even is this?!) scuttles to kitchen. Returns. ‘I am really sorry but we can only serve the sourdough toasted’. Mouth. Drops. Open. Let me tell you – there is nothing to tip a new sleep-deprived Mum over the edge right into crazy town than refusing to serve her simple bread and butter. I think my exact sarcastic words were ‘oh wow, how interesting – you buy your Sourdough already toasted?’ As a new mum I thought I’d win in these situations. Turns out chefs are probably the only group in society who do not bow down to new mums. (I hasten to mention that before asking for sourdough we were refused a toasted muffin… it’s on the menu but will ONLY be served with all the other shizzle. Because it’s a COOL MUFFIN).
- Experience number 4. Stools. High-stools. Backless high-stools. Stools you have to take a running leap at to get on, and then have to hold your breath, close your eyes and jump back down to Earth to get off. Ever tried to balance a breast-feeding baby on one of those stools? I needn’t go into any more detail on that one.
- Experience number 5. Pram can only just fit in the door, make it to the counter, sit at the first table. If it’s free. If it’s not, move on. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
So now we actively seek out Starbucks – we sniff out the Pike Place Roast like a Kardashian can sniff out a reality TV show opportunity. The green and white two-tailed mermaid is a beacon of hope – our Dame in shining armour.
It’s warm. It’s big. The tables are well spaced. They are sturdy. They are flat. They are straight. The chairs – well, there is a CHOICE. Armchair, normal chair, padded bench – with a BACK. The aisles are wide. There is a changing table. It’s safe, it’s comfortable, it’s welcoming. It’s always open.
And guess what… they serve a flat white.
*PHOTO: Aifric being burped at a Starbucks… LOOK HOW HAPPY SHE IS