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I Never Thought I'd Be the Late Mom

Photograph by Getty Images

Before I was a mom, I can honestly say I was invariably five minutes early for every event or appointment. I know that sounds like a shameless brag, but it’s true.

My gift for punctuality arose out of being raised by someone who was perpetually late for absolutely everything. The aunt who brought me up had a habit of just getting in the shower at the time we were expected to arrive somewhere. I watched this behavior for years and learned to hate being late. My perpetual tardiness caused me unbearable shame, and I swore to never be the type of mom who forced her kid to enter events after they’d begun, sign the tardy sheet at school and repeatedly miss the vital introductory information about virtually everything.

Then I had a baby, and I don’t think I’ve been on time since. For the past 10 years, I’ve been the late person I once hated. The difference now is that I always have a real excuse. The one consolation is that all the other moms are late, too, because of a few so many reasons.

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1. The House Is Always Messy!

There’s nothing worse than returning home at the end of the day to a house strewn with kids' toys, dirty dishes and unmade beds. Just as I’m leaving the house I often think to myself, “I’m going to be so angry and sad when I come home to this mess tonight.” In that moment, I’ll make a mad dash to pick up whatever I possibly can, return it to its place and hurry to the car. This never works out well, because it never takes "just a moment" to pick up the house.

2. It's the Kid's Fault

For me, and I’m sure for a lot of other mothers, an uncooperative child is a punctuality killer. My son simply won’t do what I’m asking. He won’t brush his teeth. He won’t get dressed. He won’t eat his breakfast. He won’t wash his face. Now, I have two choices when the listening declines: I can do these things for him or make him leave the house unkempt. Regardless of the choice I make, we are going to be late.

Even with a strong exit strategy, a phone call is enough to destroy any chance of timeliness.

3. I Didn't Write Deadlines Down—Everywhere

I’ve been a parent for about a decade now. We’ve been doing the same routine for years. It’s in my head, chiseled in stone, right? Wrong. You’d think I’d know the plan, but if I don’t make a schedule for the week, write it out and put it some place for me see, the boogieman will inevitably steal minutes from me without my knowledge. Even with a strong exit strategy, a phone call is enough to destroy any chance of timeliness.

4. The Bathroom Struggle Is Real

Every mom I know insists that her children go to the bathroom before leaving the house. And every child I know insists that he or she doesn’t have to do so. As moms, we know our children’s bladders better than they do. There have been countless times when I’ve insisted and my son resisted, only to have me turn around and come back to use the bathroom. It’s freakin' exasperating.

5. I'm Just Forgetful

The memory lapses that come with pregnancy and nursing don’t seem to end when the child is weaned. I can’t count the number of times I’ve left the house with my arms filled (bag, lunches, change of clothes for soccer, the special supplies for the art class, book I promised to loan the mom of the redhead, Anbesol and Q-Tips for the stress-canker sores I get all the time), only to get to the corner and realize I’ve forgotten something and need to return home to retrieve it. It happens all the time. I know that I’m not alone.

6. What Am I Wearing?!

The light in my house sucks. There’s nothing funny about getting outside the front door, walking down the path toward the car, only to notice my shirt or dress has a huge stain on it. “Why was it in the closet?” I’ll wonder, as I do an about-face back to the bedroom. Now I’m late.

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7. Pure Exhaustion

Sleepless nights are par for the course for moms, but appointments and work don’t stop because you were up all night with a sick child. On the occasions when I’m just too tired to move more quickly (and even care that I’ll be late), it’s usually because my kid’s been sick and the two of us have been up all night. On those mornings I wish my boss was telepathic, she’d call me to say she’d seen that I was up all night nursing my child. “Stay home and get some rest,” she’d say.

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