How coffee and the New York Times make me a better parent

I read the entire New York Times Book Review and Arts and Leisure sections and drank my whole cup of coffee on Saturday morning.

This may not seem like much of a spectacular event, but it is. You see, this hasn’t happened since, well, about 2010 or so.

Saturday morning was my husband’s morning to sleep in, and that usually means that I am awakened by our four-year-old son calling out “Maaaahhhhhmeeeeeee”, exponentially elongating a word that has been traditionally pronounced with a concise two syllables. I semi-fall out of bed and stumble to his room to change him out of his pull-up. As soon as I ever-so-quietly turn the knob on his door, as if plugged in by some hyper-acute sixth sense, my daughter inevitably pops out of her own room.

And then it begins.

There are fights over whether or not they get to stay in pajamas or have to change into the shirts and dresses and pants that mean the day is underway. There is breakfast, and with it more fighting “No fair! He got the muffin I wanted!” “Mommy, she pushed me!”

We will usually cuddle up on the couch to watch a movie and when suggestions are made as to which we should choose, every single time the one the other said “Yes” to, is no longer desirable. I’m convinced this is based on principle alone.

IMG 7500 300x300 How coffee and the New York Times make me a better parent

An hour or more has passed before they have settled and I finally have the chance to make coffee. Every weekend morning, without fail, it will be slightly below room temperature by the time I will have the chance to drink it, as I attempt to convince myself that “This is better anyway… I can get my caffeine fix in two big, time-saving gulps when it’s not hot!”

Usually, I will not remember to open our front door and collect the newspaper in its protective baby blue plastic sleeve.

I subscribed to the Weekend Edition of the Times as a gift to myself, as a promise of sorts that one day soon I will have the luxury of time to actually read it.

And then it happened this weekend.

I heard nothing.

Well, nothing resembling the drawn-out version of my name that I usually hear, at least. What I did hear were the click-clack of trains on the tracks in my son’s room and the soft whispers of dolls “chatting” with each other in my daughter’s room next door.

And the next sounds I heard were the drip drip drip of my coffee percolating and the rustling of the pages of the newspaper.

And when they both came down the stairs about an hour later looking for breakfast and orange juice and morning hugs and kisses, I was a little bit more patient than I am on a usual weekend. If I am being honest, I’ll admit I was likely nicer to those little people I am raising and loving.

And they didn’t get cereal or a muffin that morning — they got chocolate chip pancakes.

And I realized that a little time to myself makes a difference. It doesn’t have to be a spa day or a shopping spree (though those would certainly be nice!), but can be as simple as a cup of still-hot coffee and something good to read before the happy chaos of the day gets underway.

I have read dozens of parenting books and countless articles online and in magazines, which claim to have the solutions and answers as to how to be a better parent.

Who knew one of the secrets would be found at the bottom of my coffee cup?

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