10 Reasons Why Moms Are Always Late
by Meredith Hale
Once, when I was in my twenties, I was meeting a friend at a bar in the East Village. I’d had some sort of wardrobe malfunction, followed by getting stuck in traffic. Long story short, my friend waited for me in a bar full of ironic T-shirts and pixie cuts for over an hour. It was a terrible way to treat a friend. Looking back, I still feel sorry about that night.
But all the times I’ve been late since having kids? No apologies there.
Small children add a layer of unpredictability to even the best-laid plans. When I RSVP to a birthday party, plan a playdate, or sign up for a 9 a.m. swim class, I have the best intentions. I do my part. I program the GPS. I toss a bunch of Goldfish in a bag for the inevitable “Mom, I’m hungry” two minutes into the activity. I scour the class list for the correct spelling of the birthday girl’s name. And yet, inevitably, I find myself tossing my kids in the car and racing like a NASCAR driver to our destination, silently cursing the clock and humanity.
So why don’t I feel guilty about my habitual tardiness? I’ve come to accept a basic fact: getting an entire family out the door isn’t a simple act of willpower. These days, a timely exit requires strategy, supplies, tactical maneuvers. It’s exhausting, and, quite often, out of Mom’s control. If I had to give the top-10 excuses for my family’s lateness, they would go something like this:
I’m sorry we’re late, but…
- I could only find one of my toddler’s sneakers, because someone mysteriously stuffed the other one inside a watering can.
- My daughter decided five minutes before leaving that she must make a card for the birthday girl, complete with glitter glue and a sticker of every single Disney princess (including all six of Ariel’s sisters).
- My potty-training son pooped in his Cars underwear and became hysterical.
- My potty-training son peed in his Cars underwear and became hysterical.
- My daughter decided to wear a Queen Elsa dress-up gown to a gymnastics party, and, when told to change, spent 10 minutes in her bedroom bemoaning the injustice of life.
- My son threw his last package of swim diapers in the diaper pail because, hey, it’s fun to make things disappear.
- Sofia the First was finding out what being royal’s all about, and apparently we couldn’t miss that.
- Just as I buckled everyone into the car, I realized no one brushed their teeth.
- Just as I buckled everyone into the car, I realized one of the kids was still in the bathroom.
- Halfway there, I remembered the birthday party was last weekend. And it wasn’t a birthday party but a retirement party. And I was supposed to bring flan.
I used to feel guilty when we’d miss the safety lecture at the bouncy party, or the “Hello, everybody!” sing-along at music class. These days, if we all make it out the door with clean underwear and matching socks, I consider it a personal victory. I mean no disrespect to anyone. Every event we plan is important to me, and I’m always honored (and a little shocked) whenever anyone wants to include my crazy clan in anything. But motherhood is filled with enough guilt, from feeding my kids non-organic strawberries to wondering if my personal insecurities are scarring them for life. Frankly, I’m guilted out.
And so, I say to all the moms out there racing against the clock and beating themselves up: give yourself a break. No one’s world is going to end if your kid misses the first few minutes of Sesame Street Live. As for your friends and family, they’ve noticed the slow demise of your sanity. Hopefully they understand you’re trying.
To my friend I kept waiting at the bar years ago, next girls night out, drinks are on me. To everyone else, I’ll see you soon—just probably a little later than planned.