Just leave a little earlier.
I mean how hard can it be?
Plan your time.
That’s why kids need a schedule.
I used to be on time for everything. No, not on time. Early. For everything. I was the girl awkwardly waiting in the restaurant parking lot twenty minutes before the scheduled girls dinner meet-up time. Counting down the minutes until it was an acceptable amount of time to go in and pee before my friends arrived without garnering too much judgement from the hostess. I hated lateness. I equated it with rudeness. If you were late, you must not actually value our friendship as much as I did. Sure, the occasional things like unforeseen traffic happened. Or all of junior year of high school after my town got a Starbucks. Oh the days of a balanced breakfast of a venti whole milk white chocolate mocha and croissant…God bless teenaged metabolisms. But for the most part punctuality was my jam.
Throw in one baby.
Ok so now I am not late, generally. But I am just barely on time for things. Fashionable. Baby puke is the new chic! Still harshly (secretly) judging parents who can’t seem to get their acts together like I can whilst crying in the Target parking lot from exhaustion. You know. The picture of “together”. I look like bad scenes from the movie Tully but my kid is cute and we are on time. I have got this. We are fine. FINE. I may not have washed my hair in a LOT of days, but there wouldn’t be a dry shampoo marketing boom if I were the only one. Not like those moms over there. Showing up late for our meetings/church/workouts. Nineteen months later…
Add another baby.
We are occasionally on time. Or within the 5 minute rule. Which is like the 5 second rule for dropping food, but for being late. If you arrive with in five minute of the start of something you pretty much made it. First worship song at church? Pretty much a home run. Other kids still walking in at Mother’s Day Out. You’re golden. Gold star for you!
Start Potty Training First Kid.
Fight with lovingly suggest in an affirming manner that first kid listen to his body and attempt pottying before leaving the house. Result to bribery. Chastise yourself for resulting to bribery (again). Clean up resulting accident that occurs while you’re lost in existential thought. Change his pants. Change your pants. Change the blow out of youngest child that occurred while cleaning up accident of oldest. Swear you should have purchased stock in carpet cleaning solvent company. Arrive twenty minutes late. Apologize awkwardly without eye contact explaining that you used to always be early.
Paying it Forward with Grace.
I walked in to church late this week with three separate bags: one for a potty training kid (see here for my silly take on that here), a regular diaper bag for my daughter, my purse, and two kids (neither of which were placed in a bag for the record). My husband was at home sleeping as he’d gotten off work in the ER at 6am that morning. My sons shoes were both untied and one was riding the line of coming off completely. Instead of a sideways glance of get-it-together-woman, I was greeted with love. The darling wife of our pastor replaced his shoes, double knotting them while telling me stories of her own days of arriving late to church with little kids. That empathy turned my whole morning around. There’s not a lot the combo of kindness, donut holes, and Jesus can’t fix.
You don’t know what you don’t know. So of course I didn’t know that some day I too would arrive scrambling and late places despite having been awake long before the sun, despite a schedule, despite all my planning. Because tantrums and potty breaks and “I do it myself” and a whole multitude of unforeseen events that make motherhood what it is. Embracing chaos comes naturally for some mothers. For me, personally, it’s a struggle. The closer to our ideal departure time gets on the clock the higher my blood pressure gets. But cosmic forces also make my little people move slower when I am stressed. I think that is God’s not so subtle way of making me take pause. For the most part, my lateness really hasn’t affected all that much. The way I handle it will for sure impact my children, however. So in those moments, I will try and fail and try again to slow down. Breathe and show up a little late. And probably with coffee. One of those things on my list I swore I’d never do before becoming a mother.
I hope some day when I’m a veteran mom because let’s face it this job is never over, I will bestow grace and not judgment on some poor soul struggling with too many bags, not enough patience, who is LATE.