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Vail Family Matters: Coffee makes mom’s morning possible

Jill Marchione Papangelis
Family Matters
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –Mornings are difficult for me. Although I’ve had about 15,800 so far, I can remember three (maybe) that agreed with me.

In the evenings, I have fantastic energy, enthuse over the kids’ stories around the dinner table, cheerfully do laundry, etc. In the mornings, I’m not even bubbly compared to Leona Helmsley (The Queen of Mean). Although I wouldn’t leave my millions to my pet Maltese, I’m definitely not a joy to behold.

The problem is, when you’re a parent, you must forge through and get a lot accomplished in the mornings. Small children wake (energetic and bright eyed, I might add) at an ungodly hour, which begs the age-old question, “If there was a God, why would there be so much suffering?”



School-aged kids need assistance getting themselves up (don’t even get me started on teenagers here), breakfasts need to be forced down, lunches need to be packed, taxis need to be hailed (oh, never mind, that would be me). Parents really need to be on the ball in the A.M.

“I’m sorry but Mommy cannot speak, let alone whip up your tropical protein smoothie,” just doesn’t cut it in a roomful of rushing kids and a barking dog or two.



This, I have no doubt, is why coffee was invented. Coffee, I’m convinced, was created for those who are clinically depressed just during their first waking hour of the day. Some folks get through life’s misfortunes with the help of two full-bodied glasses of Cabernet. Frank Sinatra did it with Jack Daniels. I get through the plague that is morning with a dark Italian roast.

Caffeine (brilliantly) prohibits the chemical in your brain that slows you down. It also increases dopamine, which affects your ability to experience pleasure. A friend once told me she read that coffee releases chemicals that simulate the feelings of first being in love. She laughed at this fact, she’s an herbal tea drinker, but it made absolute and perfect sense to me. That’s impressive for one beverage to pull off.

There are some gifted few, like my husband, who must have been designed with the proper amount of dopamine and pleasant-pleasure chemicals in their systems already. The problem with these nice people is, they usually run out of gas in the evenings right about the time I’m ready to properly enjoy my day.



Though I’ve never been a morning person, my problem was definitely exacerbated by having young children. I got up extremely early with them – my daughter usually demanded pancakes with powdered sugar and a painting session with watercolors the instant she opened her eyes – but at night, once they were all finally in bed, I just had to stay up late. It was literally the only time I had to myself. Ever.

Each morning, I vowed to be wiser in the evening and go to sleep early, but I felt too alive at night. There were books to be read, baths to soak in, thoughts to think, Letterman to watch. How could I ever accomplish those things during daylight?

I don’t care if it is the most abused drug in America, caffeine has saved my life — or at least saved me from mutiny. After a restorative cup (or three) in the morning, I’m ready to take on the problems of the world, or at least the packing of lunches. That is, provided it’s a hot, rich espresso or soy latte, and I’m given plenty of time to sit and stare into space while drinking it. If you stop by the house during the first hours of the day, just a warning here, I have a considerably sunnier disposition after about 7:30, no 8:30, no 9:00. Don’t rush this.

If human beings from King David to Princess Diana to Macbeth (yes, I know he’s not actually real) had their vices, I believe I’m allowed just this wee indulgence with its heavenly aroma and curative powers. Congratulations to all you “isn’t the day lovely” morning parents – you’re truly and greatly admired. For those of you like me who more resemble a bewildered catatonic, I’ll be thinking of you all selflessly packing lunches with one eye closed in my early morning haze.

Jill Marchione Papangelis is a freelance writer and mother of four. She lives in Edwards with her family. Send column suggestions or comments to-jillscolumn@gmail.com.


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