A man couldn’t ask for a better way to wake up than wrapped in the teal coils of his gorgeous wife and the mother of his two children. Unfortunately, as much as Andrew Stevenson would love to lay there and enjoy the comfort and security of Serena’s tail this Sunday morning, he had an important task to do. Years of experience allowed him to know just how to wiggle out of an Echidna’s slumbering grasp without waking her. The far more difficult part was fighting off the drowsiness that insisted he could sleep in. It was a difficult battle, but Andrew managed to muster the will to slip out of his wife’s embrace, don a red flannel bathrobe, and stagger into the kitchen where a fresh pot of coffee was waiting to finish off the night’s lingering grogginess. Thank Maou for automatic coffee makers. He opened up the cupboard and reached for his favorite mug, only to remember it was sitting in the sink. On any other day, he’d simply grab one of the many souvenir mugs he’d accumulated from various state and national parks, but today it was worth the effort of rinsing out the mug and rubbing his finger around the lip. That would be clean enough, he thought to himself with a nod. The mug was a gift from his older daughter, Meredith, who had made it herself at school. The dark blue mug was a bit large for a coffee mug, but that was a good thing. More important than size, though, was the red heart emblazoned on the side with the word “DAD” scrawled in the middle. To say it felt irregular in his hands and on his lips would be an understatement, but this piece of pottery was a treasure that meant the world to him. As he took a sip and ran his tongue over a bump, he thought of Meredith’s toothy grin as she presented the mug and it’s mate to him and Serena. As the caffeine flowed into his veins, he prepared himself for his Mother’s Day tradition: Breakfast in Bed.
Farmer’s Breakfast was one of Serena’s favorite meals, being made primarily of egg and sausage. It still had some vegetables, but he’d cut back on them the way he knew she liked. He popped some tater tots into the oven to warm up as he began sauteing a mix of chopped onions and green bell peppers in a cast iron skillet, adding garlic and sausage a few minutes before they would be finished. As the meat started browning, he heard the familiar clopping of hooves on tile that signaled the arrival of his younger daughter, Helena.
“Hey, sweetie! You’re up early,” Andrew smiled at his daughter and tussled her hair. He could feel the nubs of horns that the four-year-old minotaur was just starting to sprout.
“I smelled roasted popos,” she announced in a voice that was way too chipper for this time of morning.
“They’re peppers,” Andrew gently corrected.
“Pep-pers,” she repeated. “Can I help you cook the peppers?”
“No, Helena. The stove is too hot. It might burn you. But you can help me with something else.”
Helena’s face brightened. “What?”
“Go to the fridge and get me some shredded cheese.” The minotaur had a little trouble against the suction, but found the bag on the bottom shelf and brought it over to her father. “Don’t forget to close the door,” he reminded her.
“Oh yeah!” She spun around before he could take the bag and quickly slammed the door closed.
“Gently,” he said as he accepted the bag of cheese upon her return. “And thank you very much.”
“You’re welcome,” the Minotaur grinned.
“Now, do you remember what basil is?” he asked as he poured several eggs he had already whisked together into the skillet and mixed everything up.
“Uh-huh,” Helena nodded. The eggs quickly started to set as Andrew opened up the oven to grab the warm tater tots and empty the sheet of crispy potato bits into the skillet.
“Bring me five leaves.” Andrew was really glad Helena had come down, as he had completely forgotten to set out some key ingredients. He was stirring the dish with one hand and sprinkling a handful of cheddar over the mixture with the other when Helena came back with a large sprig of basil that had a lot more than five leaves. He had forgotten that Helena was struggling with counting, but now was not the time for a teaching moment. He quickly grabbed the sprig, ripped off some leaves, and shredded them into the mixture before grinding some pepper over the top and stirring for a few more minutes until he judged it done. Everything was going to plan, he thought as he breathed a sigh of relief. Even though Serena did most of the cooking nowadays, he still had it. Well, he had it with some help. He reached down and scooped up his daughter. She was getting heavy, but he figured he still had a year or two of being able to hold her like this.
“You did a really good job helping Daddy make breakfast,” he kissed her nose, making her giggle.
“Doesn’t Mommy usually make beakfast?” Helena inquired.
“Brreakfast,” he emphasized the R. “And yes, she usually does, but today is a special day. Do you remember what today is?”
His daughter frowned and shook her head.
“Today is Mother’s day. It’s a day where all the Mommys in the world get thanked for all the hard work they put into taking care of little rascals like you,” he started tickling her underarm, making her squeal and squirm. “Mommy usually gets up early to make us breakfast, but today I- no, we made it for her, and we’re going to give it to her in bed.”
“But Mommy says not to eat anything in bed!”
“And Mommy is right, but on really special occasions, grown ups can sometimes break that rule.” He grabbed a fork and picked out a bite, blowing on it before putting it in his mouth. It was pretty good. Not as good as the time he made it with smoked gouda from the Amish place, but still quite tasty.
“Can I have some now? I’m really hungry.” As if to punctuate her statement, Andrew heard the Minotaur’s stomach growl.
“Sure, honey.” He grabbed a small bowl and scooped a small serving inside before taking it to the table.
He returned and was pulling out the TV tray when he heard Helena ask, “May I have a glass for some orange juice?”
“Tell you what, if you don’t tell your mother, you can drink it from the carton.”
“But Mommy says that’s unladylike and boys won’t want to date a- a heaben.”
“Do you want to date boys?” he frowned.
“No. Boys are silly.”
Andrew sighed in relief. “Then it doesn’t matter now, does it? Just remember not to tell Mommy.”
“Okay!” Helena cheered as she took a big sip.
By the time Helena finished eating, Andrew had set up two TV trays with heaping helpings of Farmer’s Breakfast and had filled their matching mugs with coffee. Before Andrew met his wife, he thought he added a lot of cream and sugar to his coffee, but Serena put him to shame, refusing to drink anything that wasn’t at least ¼ creamer. There wasn’t much he could do to decorate the Farmer’s Breakfast other than to arrange some extra basil sprigs into something he hoped looked artistic, but after making sure the two mugs were both aligned correctly, he deemed his work ready for presentation. Now there was only one thing left to do.
Andrew smiled at the sleeping form of his older daughter as she clutched her little stuffed panda. A few locks of hair had fallen over her face and he gently brushed them away before lightly stroking her shoulder. “Hey, Meredith. Time to get up and give Mommy your card,” he whispered. Meredith’s regular breathing hitched and her eyes started fluttering open. “Come on, honey. You worked really hard on that card at school and were so excited last night about giving it to her.” Andrew walked over to the chest of drawers and opened up the top drawer to retrieve the pink piece of folder construction paper from where it was hidden. He couldn’t help but smile at his daughter’s creativity: green pipe cleaners glued to the front formed a heart and the body of a snake upon which she had added various shapes of pasta to create a charming facsimile of the rest of Serena’s body. A small thud indicated that Meredith had at least gotten her tail out of bed, and Andrew turned back to hand the card to his daughter, who accepted it after she rubbed her eyes.
“Merry, I helped Daddy make Beakfast!” Helena excitedly informed her sister.
“Gjob,” Meredith mumbled. “Mornin’ Dad.”
“Good morning, sweetie. You wanna take a minute to wake up before we go give everything to Mommy?” Andrew asked as he knelt down and wrapped his daughter in a hug. He had learned that just a bit of bodyheat did wonders for a snake girl in the morning. After a minute, he picked the tray of food back up and led the procession into the master bedroom, opening it to find that Serena was already awake, but still in bed checking her phone. She looked up at the sound of the door creaking and quickly put her phone down just before getting mobbed by her two daughters.
“HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!” they called out in unison as they jumped on the bed.
Andrew set the trays down on a bedside table and took off their covers before leaning over to give his wife a kiss. “Happy Mother’s Day, Honey. I made your favorite.”
“Ooh! Farmer’s Breakfast!” Serena exclaimed with glee.
“I helped make it!” Helena informed her proudly.
“That she did,” Andrew agreed as he gave the little Minotaur a noogie.
“And I made you this at school,” Meredith announced as she thrust her card into her mom’s face.
“It looks so pretty,” Serena complimented as she examined the craftsmanship before opening it up. “Dear Mom,” she read aloud. “Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you so much for loving me and driving me to Lucy’s house and making me cookies and giving me hugs and kisses. I love you a lot. Love, Meredith.” She put the card down and smiled as she brought Meredith into a hug. “Aww, thank you. I love you, too.” She looked across at her family. “I love all of you.”
Andrew placed a tray on his wife’s lap and slid in beside her with his own tray. “You’re the best wife a man could ever hope for,” he said as he took her hand. “Thank you so much for giving me these two wonderful children.”
Serena giggled as she put a hand over her stomach. “It’s three, actually.”
Andrew’s face lit up like a kid at Christmas. “We- We’re having a third? When did you find out?”
“Two days ago. I wanted it to be a Mother’s Day surprise.”
“Hey, I thought we were supposed to be the ones giving the surprise.”
“We’re going to get a sister?” Meredith piped up.
“Or a brother.” Andrew added giddily. At Serena’s look he added, “There’s at least a chance.”
“Honey, you know there haven’t been any Echidnas that have had boys.”
“I mean, there’s still a chance. It’s only been a few years.” He deflated a bit, before squaring his shoulders. “Boy or girl, I know you’ll be a wonderful mother, and you,” he turned to his daughters, “will be wonderful sisters.”
“When is the baby coming?” Helena asked.
“I think she’ll be here in around eight months,” her mother answered.
“How do you know?” Meredith wondered.
“Uh-” Serena frantically looked to her husband for salvation.
“Hey, you haven’t had anything to eat this morning.” Andrew stepped in. “You must be hungry, you can eat off of my plate.” At the mention of food, Meredith’s stomach growled, and Serena sighed in relief as the subject was dropped. It didn’t take long for Meredith to finish off the rest of her Dad’s plate, and after she scraped the last bit into her mouth, she quickly started gathering the dishes.
“Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll wash these.” Andrew started to say something but was stopped by his wife’s hand on his arm.
“Thank you, baby,” she told her daughter.
“C’mon, Helly!” Meredith slithered out the door, followed by the clomping hoofsteps of her younger sister. Serena wrapped her arm around her husband and pulled him back down onto the bed and spooned up against him. They were quiet for several minutes until Andrew spoke up.
“You know, before I met you, I often wondered if I’d be able to experience this. Making breakfast for the love of my life, the proud father of two- no three children. Even just cuddling with a pretty girl in a bed.” He felt his wife’s embrace tighten. “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You’ve given me a family and a future. People to care for and people I know will care for me. Thank you for making me a father.” Andrew turned around to face his love. “Thank you for giving me a life worth living.” He wrapped his arm around the back of his wife’s head and pulled her into a deep kiss. “Happy Mother’s Day.”