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Too Much Happens Before Coffee

Faintly aware of the familiar ethereal tune of my cell phone alarm, I swipe the clock icon toward “dismiss” to silence the symphony of chimes that interrupt my late-morning dreams. I suppose I should get up, I half-heartedly muse while glancing at the time: 8:03 am. Stretched out alone in our queen-size bed, I ponder all the things on my schedule for the day. I have meetings this afternoon. I can’t forget to water the hanging baskets today. I need to schedule that delivery, call the insurance company, and pay the bills for next month. No reason to delay; I’d better get started. I saunter off toward the bathroom to wash my face, brush my teeth, and pull my hair down from a top-knot, but in our one-bathroom home, more often than not, this space is occupied at this time of day.

I make my way to Brian’s office, which was a guest bedroom before COVID hit in March. He has already started his work for the day, but it’s a slow morning. “Make sure you get your coffee sooner rather than later,” I tease. It’s the running joke in our home: “Too much happens before coffee.” Work may be slow now, but any number of circumstances could pop up before noon. I take a seat on the bed while waiting for the bathroom to be free, and our 4-year-old daughter ambles in, joining the two of us. With wild blonde bed-head and sleepy smiles, she crawls up next to me for a morning snuggle, hugs, and kisses.

“Hey Eleora,” Brian starts, “what is the song you sang to your sisters before falling asleep the other night?” Our eyes meet, and I grin knowingly. Our older two daughters, Olivia and Amelia, informed us after Eleora had fallen asleep the night before, that she concocted a tune comprised of “booties” and “butts” and other words kids find hilarious. Eleora bashfully hides her face in my side in response to this question. By now, her older sisters have joined our guest room/office gathering and have caught on to the conversation we’d begun a moment ago.

“Why don’t you want to sing your song for mommy and daddy?” Brian pries. It’s written all over her face: she’s embarrassed. Amelia pipes up, “I’ll sing it!” and proceeds to recount a silly tune where every other word is “booty.” Giggles ensue, but Eleora’s embarrassment turns into tears. Brian scoops her up and reassures her all is okay. It’s too early in the day for diffusing hurt feelings—we haven’t even had coffee.

Still in our pajamas, piled on the guest bed, we take turns finding Eleora’s most ticklish spot: her armpits. Before long, her eyes are dry and the small room fills with peals of laughter from everyone. We catch our breath as Brian glances over at his work. Still slow. We all agree there are times and places for goofy songs about “booties,” and Eleora no longer feels embarrassed.

I finally make it to the bathroom to get ready for the day and choose an outfit appropriate for a Zoom meeting, but still comfortable enough to wear around the house. I head to the kitchen to finally prepare breakfast when I notice the time: it’s already after 10:00 am. How on Earth did two hours just fly by? Astonished by the passage of time, I recount the pace of our lives just a few months prior. Alarms while it was still dark, Brian gone before the kids woke up, business all day, and exhaustion in the evenings. When COVID hit, none of us knew what was going on, and even with Brian newly working from home full-time, our days were anything but relaxed. I’d jump out of bed in a frenzy, racing to make a grocery run just as our local stores opened, hoping I’d be able to snag a pound of ground beef or a whole chicken. Upon returning home, I’d wipe down everything out of an abundance of caution, lest I bring an unknown virus into our home.

For many of us, those early spring days could be accurately described as chaotic.

I shake off the memory of those days and pull a box of blueberry muffin mix out of the cabinet. Yes, this is perfect for today, I smile. The girls will love this.

Minutes tick by as I prepare the muffin batter, throw a pan of bacon in the oven, and scramble seven eggs in my trusty cast-iron skillet while the aroma of blueberry muffins fill the air. Two batches of muffins later, and everything is cooked. I dole out servings among five different plates. 11:22 am, I read on the clock as I shrug casually, whatever.

“Breakfast is ready!” I call while delivering plates to the table. “MUFFINS!” the girls squeal as they bound in from the living room where they had been playing with Barbies and Matchbox cars. Brian emerges from the guest room and takes notice of the time. “I guess this is technically more like brunch,” I suggest. “Yep, but it works because now we don’t have to worry about lunch,” he teases.

Before sitting down, I fill two mason jar style glasses with ice and reach into the fridge for the pitcher of cold-brew coffee. A lot has happened before coffee today. I pour coffee and cream over the ice, plop a stainless steel straw into each jar, and ponder how much our lives have shifted from a cycle of work-school-eat-sleep to one completely outside of any cycle. A type of work, life, and school integration that sometimes affords us slow mornings, blueberry muffin brunches, and cold-brew coffee at 11:30 am. Much like our coffee that brews for eight hours overnight, slow and mellow, we have adopted some routines that are slow and mellow too.

The five of us enjoy our accidental brunch together, a fine way to wrap up a slow morning. A lot has happened before coffee: a lot of laughter and a lot of memories. Work beckons Brian back to the guest room, and I prompt the kids to get dressed for the day. They can’t stay in pajamas all day, right? My to-do list for the day is waiting for me, but I’m ready for it because of all that had happened before coffee.


Mary Kate Brown is passionate about helping others find healing and wholeness. She writes online about her healing journey from autoimmune disease and champions others to be their own best health advocates. A “crunchy” mom at heart, her interests include holistic wellness, real food cooking, and faithful stewardship of our bodies, spirits, families, and land. Mary Kate, her husband Brian, and their three daughters left their lifelong home in the Chicago suburbs to pursue their dream of homesteading on a rural property just south of Grand Rapids, MI. Most days you can find her in the garden talking to her plants, homeschooling her three daughters, or taking appointments with fellow writers as a member of the hope*writers enrollment team.


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