To this point, I have been getting children ready for school for seven years, three months, and a handful of days. That equals out to about 1,400 school mornings. Through this experience, I can confidently affirm that the Kubler-Ross “Stages of Grief” model can be accurately applied to my weekday mornings.
Stage one: Shock or disbelief
Six a.m. The incessant buzzing of the alarm jars me out of my peaceful slumber.
Who am I kidding? My co-sleeping toddler hasn’t slept since August. The alarm startles me away from the current episode of whatever fixer-upper show is playing on the television while my toddler is blissfully splayed across my pillow.
How is it morning already?
Stage two: Denial
I’ve only been in bed for 10 minutes, haven’t I? I’m still so tired! Darn it. The clock says it’s actually 6:07 a.m. Sigh. Get up. The alarm is buzzing again. It’s judging me with its angry red stare. The clock thinks I am lazy. I need a new clock.
I cheerfully call to the children to get out of bed. I’m met with silence. I call to them three more (progressively less cheerful) times. Their response is to question my sanity.
“It can’t actually be time to get out of bed already, can it?”
“Did we turn the clocks back the wrong way?”
“How is it still dark outside?”
I go to brush my teeth. After all that complaining, I am sure they are up. They wouldn’t possibly try to go back to bed.
I finish brushing my teeth and open the bathroom door.
The kids are still in bed.
Stage three: Bargaining
“If you get out of bed, get dressed, and brush your teeth now, you will have time for a TV show and breakfast.”
Ten minutes later. “If you get out of bed, get dressed, and brush your teeth now, you will have time for a bowl of cereal.”
Ten minutes later. “Get out of bed. Get dressed. Brush your teeth. Grab a granola bar and eat it in the car.”
Ten minutes later. “Get out of bed and get in the car. Your pajama top can pass as real clothes. If you pretend it’s pajama day and stop complaining, you can have a cookie after school.”
Stage four: Guilt
I may have pegged my middle child in the head with a granola bar while tossing it back from the driver’s seat. Oops. The baby is only wearing one shoe. Which might be his sister’s. For the third time this week. Did kid #4 even eat breakfast? Oh, yup. There it is, smeared across his dirty face. When is the last time that one had a bath?
This morning certainly puts me out of the running for Mother of the Year.
Stage five: Anger
“Buckle your seatbelt!!” “No, we don’t have time to stop for donuts!” “What is that smell? AN APPLE? How long has that been in this car?! No, wait, don’t answer that!” “Did you even brush your teeth? What do you mean you didn’t have time?!” “Why is your sister still in the house?”
I drive three-quarters of the way to school.
“What do you mean you forgot your backpack?!”
Stage six: Depression
I should be enjoying this stage of their lives, not shrieking at them like a rabid velociraptor with a migraine about the fermented apples under their car seats.
I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in eleven years. Does it show? (Quick glance in the rearview mirror.) It shows.
What the heck is that stuck to my favorite shirt? Which kid had a lollipop? Why didn’t I get one, too?
Stage seven: Acceptance/hope
There it is! The school! We are here! And on time! And look — there are other kids in pajama tops! It really is pajama day! Frazzled morning for the win!
Coffee awaits at home. Ahh. It may be crazy, but life is good.
Life after coffee, that is.