I hear the faint, soothing, tinkling of piano keys, one of the chickens in the yard getting restless for breakfast, and a yawning dog. I rise from my bed, all the way at the back of the house, ready for a new day. I crack my door and the sounds of morning become more in focus, much louder, and much more of an incentive to go burrow deep, back into the electric blanket I have abandoned.
As I make my way down the hallway, soft piano notes become pounding fists of pure, tortured toddler soul, pummeling it's pain out onto the unassuming black and white keys. The two older girls are in a heated debate over who gets the torn, teal sweatshirt today. The baby is awakened.
I pour my first cup of coffee. Things will be better soon, I reassure myself. I lift my favorite mug to my lips to take a sip and...
The dog jumps up, greeting me enthusiastically, to get things rolling properly, knocking my mug into my lap. Steaming hot coffee is gathering within the creases of my pajama pants, the rest rolling over the tops of my thighs into the brown-for-a-reason fabric of my couch. My voice crackles as I utter my first word for the day, an ode to excrement.
A barrage of questions sweep over me as I am trying in vain to find another clean pair of pants, anywhere, in our cramped home. All that my hands come up with are kid clothes and the remains of whatever the dog gnawed on while I was blissfully sleeping. It is a surreal scene and I feel like I sometimes do in a bad dream where I am looking for anything to use as a weapon against a dangerous foe and my searching provides me with a single serving cup of sugar free gelatin.
"I'm huuuuunnnngrrrry...," escapes the lips of these miniature martyrs in unison. All four of them look up at me with wide and savage stares. They watch my every move. I am staring back at them, making the choice between appeasing them or indulging in an actual first cup of black coffee. I'd chew the grounds out of the day old filter at this point for just a fraction of clarity.
I make an e
xecutive decision. I pull old fashioned oats and four bowls out of the cupboard and I set four spoons next to the bowls. I grumble something like, "Hi, Hungry. Nice to meet you," and I plot my escape route with my coffee in hand. I am stealthy in my sleep deprivation and manage to get out onto the porch before the realization, and eventual wave of disappointed groans, falls over the feral gathering in the kitchen.
I sit and take a sip. The sunlight slips over the mountain tops and shines over the slick rim of my mug, as if the gods are smiling on my caffeine addiction. I am in awe. In this brief, wondrous moment I am aware of the silenced complaints from coddled children. I take another glorious sip. And another. And another. It must be my lucky day.
I managed the unthinkable. I was allowed four piping hot sips before my assistance, removing tiny hands off of another child's tiny neck, was required from inside.
After saving a couple lives and providing suitable sustenance, I slip back outside onto the porch and seriously consider buying a lottery ticket.