alarm clock to show getting kids ready in the morningTo this point, I have been getting kids 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

It’s 6 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.

Deanna Greenstein
Deanna is a mom of five (yes, five) children, who lives in Brockton with her small circus of kids, her husband, their dog Penny, and a few cats. Her life is loud, energetic, mostly fun, often gross (did she mention four of those kids are boys?), and she wouldn't have it any other way. In between carting kids to school, baseball, gymnastics, guitar, dance, track and field and every other kid activity known to mankind, she works as a school bus driver for the city of Brockton, and is the Director of Religious Education at the Unity Church of North Easton, a Unitarian Universalist congregation. Deanna also holds degrees in Elementary Physical Education and Dance Education, which she plans to put back into use one day. At parties, Deanna can often be found hanging out with family pets. She follows her children around with a camera like the paparazzi, is pretty sure that 97% of her blood stream is made of coffee, and her laundry is never done. You can also find her blogging at


  1. I too have 5 kids and this was hilarious to read LOL! The part where you kept bargaining every 10 mins and eventually tell them to just get out of bed and into the car is comedy. Thank you for being real and definitely for the humor; I love a good laugh.

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