Sometimes I say things like "this cup of coffee saved my life" and people think I'm joking.

March 16th, 2014, 2pm

It was 23°C with few clouds. There was moderate breeze.

Like most parents with young kids, every day is an early start for me. Even so, 4:45am feels a little excessive. And that’s what time today started. To make matters even more… challenging… my wife and her sister was on a much-needed weekend away, so I was solo parenting. I couldn’t even resent her for it, because it really was a long time coming, and they’ve been planning the getaway for months.

So there I was at 4:45, staring blankly at the kettle as it boiled the water for our 1-year old’s bottle. I fed her, changed her, we played for a bit, and then our 4-year old decided she was also in the mood to get up early. So at 5:30 she stumbled out of her room, proclaiming that she needed to have breakfast (“Original cereal, Daddy!”) immediately so that she could brush her teeth and get dressed. Because it’s Sunday and we had things to do.

That’s pretty much the last detail I remember clearly. I continued most of the day in a state of zombie-like almost-consciousness, too tired to register how tired I was, too caught up in Lego and diapers and making ice (Frozen is big in our house all houses right now) to know what time it was.

And then it came: the moment I could order a coffee and sit still for 20 minutes 15 minutes. I remarked to the server how this coffee is literally saving my life right now. He let out a good-natured laugh — the one all servers do so perfectly — as if to say, “Ha ha, you’re funny, man… Enjoy your coffee, mmmkay?”

I used my 15 minutes 9 minutes to reflect on that — how he thought I was making a joke. And I suppose I was, but on some level, also not. That coffee gave me more than a break and a bit of caffeine.

You see, as a parent your world often becomes miniscule. All you see and all you think about is the safety and comfort of your kids. No one else matters, and nothing can distract you. The walls close in, and you’re completely in your kids’ world. This is mostly a good thing, but it can also get intense and lonely.

So that coffee? That coffee reminded me that the world is still out there. That I should look up every once in a while, and show my kids the sights and smells of the world around them. The skill and care that went into that cup was what I needed to get my second wind for the day.

So, no, I wasn’t joking. Those 9 minutes 4 minutes saved my life.

Stephen, Wes, Andi, Akiko and 32 others said thanks.

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Rian van der Merwe

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