How My Daughter’s Asthma Revealed I Was a Judgy-McJudgelson Mom.

Whenever I have a writing deadline, I mean really under the gun, I always run away from home. No, it’s not what you’re thinking (judgy). Being a mom of four kids doesn’t lend itself to quiet writing times in the house. So when I really need to work uninterrupted, I’ll take a few hours and go to my favorite Starbucks. Yes, I know how cliché that sounds: a writer at Starbucks. Truth be told, I go for the coffee, the smell of coffee, and the hushed conversations that I can easily ignore in order to get my work done. Plus, the coffee helps me focus…keep reading.

One particular “OMG! This article is due tomorrow” day, I happened to glance up from my laptop to watch two young boys approach the barista. A quick glance around the small shop lowered my heart rate when I realized that their mom was sitting quietly, engrossed in a book, at a table. I turned on my hyper focus (because I’m a super hero) and concentrated on the boys. The youngest, ordered a hot chocolate, which was adorable. And then the oldest, who couldn’t have been more than eleven, stepped up.

“Let me have a Tall iced coconut mocha macchiato with an extra shot of espresso.” He rolled effortlessly off his tongue.

For a split second, I felt like an emoji; you know which one. My head darted back to their mom who was still heavily enthralled by her book. Two things shocked me: 1) This kid ordered like an expert Starbuckian (yep, I sure did), 2) He had to be a regular because the barista didn’t even flinch, and 3) His mom didn’t even look up from her book. Yeah I know what I said!

The two boys patiently waited for their order at the counter. In the meantime, my mouth was still agape. He’s eleven! And I wasn’t even saying that for dramatic purposes (because my friends know that I refer to anyone under the age of 25 a as 12-year-old), this kid was probably, actually 11 years old. Project deadline abandoned, I just stared at this kid. I marveled that he was drinking his beverage with such ease. He, his little brother, and his mom casually chatted about the school day, or life, or whatever. I wasn’t even focused on the conversation, I was still trippin’ over the drink.

Then I did it. “How dare you let your 11-year-old have a coffee beverage with two shots of espresso in it! How dare you let him drink all of it! How dare you expose that kid to all that caffeine,” I thought as I sipped my Mocha Frappuccino through the ever-familiar green straw. I was convinced that this woman needed to get her life.  I quietly returned to my article. But every once in a while, I’d look over the rim of my glasses (because that’s how people can know you’re chastising them) and shamed her with my eyes. #coffeeshaming – Let’s make it a thing.

Not too long after that, my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Asthma; it’s genetic. (My husband’s side). The Asthma journey has been rocky, and tumultuous.  It’s further complicated because the one “go to” medicine that they give every asthmatic–she’s allergic to. Geographically we live in the worst possible climate for it. Mix that with my daughter’s severe allergies, and her impeccable way of doing every possible thing an asthmatic should never do, and that leaves us with what I call “Bad lung days” and “OK lung days.” My nights have become sleepless and my days are spent obsessing over ragweed and grass pollen levels. There’s something about being inside of the moment when your child can’t breathe that just undoes you. And if it doesn’t…well…congratulations, you’re better than me.

One particular day I called one of my best friends, who happens to have the same type of Asthma as my daughter (which I lovingly refer to as “the bad kind),” and I lamented about how I was so over home nebulizers, inhalers, and ER visits. “She’ll be fine!” my friend said. “And honestly, she’d probably do a little better if you give her some caffeine.” I scoffed quietly, promptly forgetting that my bestie is one of the few people who know me well. “You can have an attitude all you want,” she chastised, “ but caffeine helps!” I dismissed her ridiculous claim.

And then the 4th of July arrived. We spent the entire day at a relative’s house. My daughter played in their enormous backyard, jumped on their trampoline, played with their dog, played in their garage, played in their flower bed…. you get the picture. Later that night, we went to see fireworks. The air was smoky and thick after the show was over, but my daughter was still amped and clear…a little too amped.

When we arrived home, and the kids were winding down, my youngest daughter moaned about how unfair it was that her older sister got to drink two Dr. Peppers at their cousins’ house.


Turns out my oldest daughter had been sneaking cans of Dr. Pepper. By the time she was finished, she had consumed enough caffeine for the average-size cup of brewed coffee. I was stunned. We had gone the whole day with no breathing issues…my daughter had consumed the soda a few minutes after we had arrived.

A week or so later after a string “bad lung days,” my daughter and I were standing in the kitchen. She was looking up at me, with pursed lips, as her nose flared widely with each breath. I gave her a hug, then pressed the button on my Keurig. Moments later, my daughter was sipping a cup of mocha cappuccino.

And that’s when it hit me.

That mom in Starbucks knew exactly what she was doing. I don’t know if the kid had asthma, it actually doesn’t matter. I judged her. I judged “caffeine mom.” And then I remembered; my mom would give me a can of Coke to help me focus because caffeine has the opposite affect on people with ADHD. At the time I had no idea what it was for, I was just excited about drinking out of the red can. I had failed to remember my own history, and had #coffeeshamed that mom. I judged that mom! Without even knowing the story, I had immediately questioned her parenting skills. Dear Lord! I was a judging mom! I hate that kind of mom, and I had become the very thing I despise! (Insert sliding down the wall while screaming “No!” here.)

The only thing missing from my epiphany was music.

Just so we’re clear: I am not beneath taking my 7-year-old to Starbucks for a Frappuccino, and I don’t care what you think.

Oddly enough, there is an actual medical reason why caffeine helps asthmatics. Something about smoothing bronchial tube walls blah, blah, blood vessels blah, blah…just trust me it helps! Google it!

I think we walk around in life very proud of who we think we are. Want to know the truth? We judge people. We judge the decisions they make, how they live, who they marry, who or where or if they choose to worship, etc. Bottom line? We’re no better than anybody else. Everyone is trying to get through this life the best way they know how. And frankly, how you think that should be doesn’t matter.

(Raises coffee cup) Here’s hoping one day you have a #coffeeshaming type epiphany. I promise it will change your life.

Oh and on a related note, please don’t inbox, comment or email me Asthma remedies. Trust me, I’ve done the research. And if you’re still feeling the urge to send me facts about Asthma or caffeine…read this.

You know I’m right.

-Danita LaShelle

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Princess Hawk says:

    For almost a teeny bit I almost wished my child had a little asthma (don’t judge me ) so I can say “wow let’s try this” and “it works” and “thanks Danita this article is what we needed. ” Instead I’ll pass it on to my kindergarten parents. Danita please publish a book, a blogiography. I’ll be waiting .


  2. Danita says:

    It’s funny you should say that. I have another cousin that went to Starbucks after reading this and is having a great day now. Maybe we can all get some free coffee out of it.


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