By 7:30 a.m., I've already done a day's worth of mothering, negotiating, and bargaining. Then I go to work.
Humor Parenting Special Needs SPM/MM

Powering Up: A Working Mom’s Morning with 3 Kids with Special Needs

By 7:30 a.m., I've already done a day's worth of mothering, negotiating, and bargaining. Then I go to work.

By Hannah Grieco of

5:17AM: Wake up to five-year-old’s face smashed into yours. Scream before realizing who she is. Apologize as your fear-rage transitions to guilt.

5:19: Sit up and pull her into your lap. Promise you still love her despite the terrible things you just said. Get up to make breakfast.

5:25: Take several deep breaths, then do three sun salutations because cereal should be fucking fine at 5:25 in the morning. No, you’re not making blueberry muffins.

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5:27: Cuddle on the floor because she did the sun salutations with you and that was really cute.

5:30: Greet the eight and ten-year-olds, who somehow sensed that their youngest sibling was getting attention and woke up to immediately put a stop to it.

5:35: Realize that your ten-year-old is eating a cheese stick but has not taken his meds yet. The meds that require an empty stomach. He’ll be fine.

5:40: Get everyone cereal. Make coffee.

5:42: Go to the bathroom.

5:43: Yell, “Stop knocking! I am allowed to pee!”

5:44: Quickly finish as the eight-year-old escalates into a full meltdown over her milk-soaked pajamas.

5:45: Take everyone upstairs to get dressed for school. No, the ten-year-old cannot wear shorts. It is January and twenty-nine degrees outside. Yes, it’s super weird when the sensory-friendly, soft material touches your calves.

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5:46: Separate the five and eight-year-olds, who are fighting because the five-year-old is wearing the eight-year-old’s underwear. Wipe away the five-year-old’s tears. Promise the eight-year-old that you will launder them thoroughly. Yes, it’s hard when people don’t follow the rules. You understand how important rules are. You forgot to do the laundry last night. Loudly praise everybody’s flexible thinking.

5:47: Allow the ten-year-old to explain “growth mindset” to his sisters. Consider tweeting about it.

5:49: Take everybody back downstairs and let them play Minecraft.

5:51: Take a shower. Get dressed. Remember to put on deodorant. Apply mascara perfectly the first time. Today is amazing. Today has endless potential.

6:15: Realize you never pushed “brew” on the coffee maker. Push “brew.”

6:30: Give everyone a five-minute warning. Ignore their loud complaining and begin making lunches.

6:35: Collect all electronic devices. Ignore complaining and announce that anyone who has socks and shoes on in five minutes gets a doughnut on the way to school. Feel pleased with your ingenuity as they scamper off.

6:36: Tell the five-year-old to stop playing Legos and go get her socks and shoes on.

6:37: Tell the eight and ten-year-olds to stop making origami turtles and go get their socks and shoes on.

6:38: Warn everyone that doughnuts will be off the table if they don’t get their socks and shoes on.

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6:39: Pour a cup of coffee. Realize there is no ham for ham and cheese sandwiches. Scrounge for alternative sandwich options. While looking, find the warm pack of ham on the counter.

6:40: Yell loudly about socks and shoes and doughnuts. When nobody answers, yell loudly about everyone having to buy lunch today because somebody left the ham out.

6:41: Explain to the rioting crowd that you need them to put on their socks and shoes. Ignore their confusion, as if they’ve never heard this request before. Ask them if peanut butter and jelly is acceptable. Thank the ten-year-old and tell him to make himself a sandwich, then ask his sisters what they want since peanut butter and jelly is “barfy.” Direct the eight-year-old to chop up carrot and celery sticks. Offer the five-year-old a spoon to scoop hummus into two containers.

6:43: Gaze around at your wonderful, independent children. Look at them making their own lunches!

6:44: Realize what time it is and yell at the ten-year-old that his bus will be here in five minutes. Remind him you are picking him up early for occupational therapy this afternoon.

6:45: Tell the five-year-old that she needs to put her socks and shoes back on. Reassure her that these socks do not have seams, so there’s no way the seams can be itchy. Tell the eight-year-old to stop making rhymes with the word itchy. We don’t use that kind of language in this house.

6:49: SH*T. the ten-year-old did not take the rest of his medications. Run after him as he heads for the bus out front. Apologize for embarrassing him in front of everyone. Ignore the fact that he is the first stop on the route and so there are no other kids on the bus.

6:50: Watch the bus drive away and feel an ache deep in your chest. Will you get a call from school before lunch? Will the other kids be nice today? Are you taking years off his life with these meds? Is being sleep-deprived taking years off your life? Will your son ever go to college, or get a job, or live on his own?

6:51: Tell the five-year-old that she can’t be outside if she isn’t wearing pants. Why is she crying now? Carry her, kicking and yelling, back inside.

6:52: Explain to the eight-year-old that the police are not going to come arrest her little sister for public nudity. Remind her that her sister is five. Ask her to let it go. Ask her five more times to let it go. Yell at her to let it go.

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6:53: Take away the backpack that the five-year-old is stomping on. Remind her that we go to school every day. Promise her a doughnut if she stops crying and puts on her clothes. Tell the eight-year-old to STOP TALKING ABOUT PUBLIC NUDITY AND JUST LET IT GO.

6:54: Tell the eight-year-old that if she packs her backpack she can play Minecraft until it’s time for school.

6:55: Carry the five-year-old upstairs. Read her a story about raccoons kissing each others’ hands. Kiss her hand twenty times. Get her dressed when she isn’t paying attention. Reassure her that her teacher loves her. Remind her that she can eat her lunch at snack time instead, because you know the lunch room is so loud. You will pick her up after school, just like you always do. Yes, cross your heart and hope to die.

7:05: Get everyone out the door, hallelujah.

7:10: Stop for doughnuts. Oh my God they’re so cute when they’re quietly eating sugar.

7:30-7:34: Pull into the school parking lot. Sign the girls into extended day. Leave a note for the eight-year-old’s teacher about the new weekly therapist appointment on Mondays at 10:00AM. Leave a note for the principal about tomorrow afternoon’s IEP meeting.

7:35: Head to work. Mentally run through the day’s meetings while stuck in traffic. Remind yourself to reschedule the 3:00 with Gwen because of your son’s appointment, and also to call the new psychiatrist about the bloodwork for the eight-year-old. Realize you will probably have to take your 8:00 meeting in the car. Can you tether your laptop to your phone and share a PowerPoint presentation while driving? We’ll see, won’t we?

7:36-7:39: Realize you never drank your cup of coffee. Or ate breakfast. Sob hysterically. Thank God the traffic’s stopped completely now. Notice there are now black mascara smudges on your sleeve. Consider calling in sick. Ha! Like you have any paid leave left.

7:40: Power up your laptop as the traffic inches forward.


About the Author

Hannah Grieco is a writer in Arlington, VA. Her essays and short stories can be read in Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Motherwell, First for Women, Hobart, Barren Magazine, and more. Find her at and on Twitter at @writesloud.