Editor's note: This post by Alissa Parker originally appeared on her blog, The Parker Five. It has been reprinted here with permission.
Wake the girls up.
Ask the girls what they want for breakfast.
Wait for them to answer.
Ask again what they want for breakfast.
Ask Emilie what she wants for lunch.
Make plain ham sandwich for lunch ... again.
Remind the girls to eat their breakfast.
Ask Emilie where her library books are.
Remind the girls to eat their breakfast ... sigh.
Try and help Emilie remember where her library books might be hiding.
Get the girls dressed.
Get their teeth brushed.
Comb their hair.
Get yelled at while brushing their hair that I am hurting them.
Call for Emilie to find her library books, followed by a short lecture.
Get socks on the girls.
Help Emilie find the missing library books.
Yell to girls that it is time to get shoes on, only two minutes till we are officially late.
Help them search for their missing shoes and remind them why it is important to put their shoes away every time.
Jump in the car (without my shoes).
Pull up to the bus stop right as the bus arrives.
Hugs and kisses and goodbye.
Getting kids ready for school has always been something that has stressed me out. Over time I found myself really getting frustrated and taking that frustration out on my kids (Emilie in particular). I would come down pretty hard on her for not getting ready fast enough or not listening to my instructions closely enough. I had three little girls running around in all different directions and trying to get them to listen and cooperate was very challenging.
While grieving the loss of my father, I found that my emotions were a lot harder to control than normal, and I noticed it wasn’t healthy for me to start my day off in such a negative way. In December of last year, I made it a goal to try and make the morning chaos less of a negative experience. It did help. I noticed a difference in me and my girls. Looking back, I am so thankful that the last morning I had with Emilie ended up not being a morning filled with frustration and anger but of love and kindness. What a blessing.
This year the first day of school seemed to be coming at me in slow motion. Maybe because I knew how hard it was going to be, and I just wanted to get it over with. But when it finally came, I really panicked that maybe I wasn’t ready. When my alarm went off on the first day of school, all I could do was stare at my wall, feeling like I couldn’t get up. Robbie came home a few minutes later from work (he works 24-hour shifts), and I was so thankful to have that extra support I needed so desperately. Together we put on a happy face for Madeline and Samantha and their first day of school.
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Mornings are still chaotic. They are still filled with little excited girls not listening and not eating. But, my perspective has changed, and I have learned to allow myself to take the time and to laugh at the crazy moments. To not let the day start out in anger and frustration. It is not easy. There are days that I fail. It is a choice I have to make over and over again. But, I have found when I do let go and allow myself to laugh at my girls running around with mismatched socks, I start to actually feel better. The pain is still there and I am learning that it will always be there, but there is room for some of the happy, too.
Alissa Parker, mother of Sandy Hook Elementary victim Emilie Parker, is the author of theparkerfive.wordpress.com and co-founder of safeandsoundschools.org.