DENIALOh, he's just a little fussy; it will pass. He's just hungry/overstimulated/lonely. Through pure love and creative manipulation, I can easily fix this. Here, sweetheart, let's get you a glass of milk/peanut butter sandwich/warm bath/quiet story. Zen Mommy will ease us all into a peaceful slumber.
ANGEROh. My. God. [clench teeth, count to seven. You won't get to ten...you won't be able to before the next wave of attack.] Why won't he SHUT UP? Why does this little person hate me so fiercely? What did I do to deserve this? Child, if you smack me in the ass and run off giggling one more time, I'm going to absolutely lose it. STOP POKING THE DOG!! This is also usually the stage in which you realize that your Significant Other is already tucked in and obliviously snoring, and you get bonus anger directed at them for abandoning you to deal with this alone.
BARGAININGWhy won't he at least go scream/spin in circles/whine/bounce in another room for five minutes so I can clear my head and deal with him peacefully? This is the stage of desperate attempts at distraction, and of bribery. You will sing cheerful nursery songs, but you won't mean it. And he will know this. Okay honey, let's play the Quiet Game! Whoever can get into bed and under the covers the fastest gets an Extra Super Special treat!!
DEPRESSIONYou're about to give up. You are a terrible parent...not only for failing to compel another being to sleep against their will, but also for all of your losing-my-cool attempts to force it.
ACCEPTANCEObviously his will is stronger than yours, as well as the natural biological need to rest/recover. You resign yourself to not getting quality sleep of your own. Again. You mentally prepare for how to fake a recovery so you can keep going. Caffeine? Check. Undereye concealer? Helpful. Speed? Don't laugh...at this point you will consider anything.
The little booger falls asleep. Right on top of some sharply angled toys, in the middle of intense play. You have No Idea how he managed this. You go through a few seconds of deliberation about whether to move him to a more comfortable sleeping place, lest you risk waking the Kraken. You brush a stray curl from his eyes and he sighs sweetly and you think, What an angel he looks like when he's asleep.
But you know better.
*with apologies and deep respect to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross,