Why I Have Decided to Stop Feeling Guilty About Being Late (Again)
Let me explain why.
It’s certainly not because I’ve spent far too much time applying my makeup (that’s two minutes, max), blow-drying my hair (uh, never) or prepping tonight’s dinner in the Crock-Pot.
And it’s definitely not because I’m folding laundry.
I’m excusably late this morning—again—because I didn’t want to leave my daughter and the wonderfully creative skit that we were enacting on the living room rug in which Gramp (the dog in a dress and heels) wants to take his preschool students (a sordid mix of cranky princesses, Zurg from Toy Story, a few spritely fairies, Momsie the wicked stepmother, and her beloved Little People, Charlsie, Farmer, and Antara) on a trip (by train) to the zoo that we just built, but the zoo has—of course—gone under sudden construction in order to accommodate an immediate need for an animal shelter wing and a precariously tall tower for princesses and their wicked stepmothers to go live in for all eternity.
I’m excusably late because I made homemade chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast this morning—again.
I’m excusably late because I couldn’t bear to make my daughter get out of her princess dress, tiara and shoes, just moments after putting it on so excitedly and bopping me on my head with her wand.
Childhood is fleeting. I remind myself of this every day—every minute of every day, actually. Being a highly sensitive, emotional person, I’m aware of this fact, to a fault almost. I obsess over it. I cry often (inside tears) about how quickly my kids are growing, how the pencil marks etched into the pantry door are stacking up, getting higher and higher as the months pass.
Moments like these come, and come, and come, and come…and then never come again. And monotonous as many of them may be, sadly, you never quite know which will be the very last one.
So, I willingly choose to savor them all, to live freely in each moment, second to second to second, without any sense of time. I realize this probably sounds ridiculous, coming from a working mother who should be at her desk, fired up and ready to pound the keyboard, every morning by 9 a.m. But I’m just so tired of rushing.
I’m tired of speeding my kids through their mornings. I want them to get the chance to sprawl out on the living room floor, imagining for as long as it takes, to get the scenes just right and the cast of characters set up. I don’t want to interrupt simply because I’ve got to get the heck out of here so we can pay the bills.
When it’s 7:30 a.m. and my daughter asks me (teeth still dirty, hair still in a messy, knotted bun) if she can “please!” paint, or bring out the glitter glue, I want to say yes.
Build a volcano that erupts with glitter? Yes!
Make cupcakes with purple frosting? Yes!
Go outside and create a fairy garden in the grass? Yes!
Dance to Johnny Cash in our pajamas? Yes!
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes!
I want to be a Mom of Yes.
But instead, most days I feel like a Mom of No, a Mom Who Rushes Everywhere All the Time. A Get ‘er Done Mom. This version of Mom completely contradicts who I am at my core (laid-back, creative and chillaxin’)—I mean, is it really possible to be a Type A free spirit?
© Courtesy Kerri Beauchesne
It’s incredibly hard to have to say no over and over again, in different tones, and having to practically force (er, bribe?) my daughter into the bathroom to Please just brush your teeth. (To only have to resort to my go-to: “You don’t want to get cavities and get your teeth drilled out, do you? You’ll never be able to eat candy again! Imagine?”—harsh, yeah, but in the heat of the moment it does the trick.)
And this, precisely, is when the Type A in me kicks in, and I chuck my Phoebe—the fun-loving, free-spirited part of myself (Friends, anyone?)—up on the shelf for awhile. Sometimes I feel like a neurotic tour guide with 14 arms going every which way, escorting my kids through the various stations we need to stop at before heading out the door on what I fondly call the mama train: potty, hair, clothes, socks, sneakers, coat, car.
Check, check, check, check, check.
And yet, I’m still late. Go figure?
I’m so tired of my mornings being an endless loop of circus acts, a long list of checkboxes that I need to X out before I whisk everyone and all 17 of our bags out the door. Bananas, cell phones, water bottles, binkies, diapers, show and tell, her lunch, my lunch, baby bottles. Oh, and the keys. Where are my keys? No matter how often I make sure to pay attention when putting my keys down at night, I always—always—lose them.
And the state of my car…dear Lord. I won’t even talk about why there are still a good 12 Teddy Grahams lingering on the floor of my car that I simply don’t have the time or energy to pick up, four days later. Or, why I just found my bag of size-two “Extra Clothes for Phia” that are still in the trunk.
Sigh. Size two was three years ago.
I’m sickened by how fast I speed sometimes to get to preschool on time so that I can get to work five minutes late. I definitely go over the speed limit in the school zone and fly through yellow lights…with two kids in the backseat.
I hate how stressed out I get when I realize I’ve waited—again—until the last minute to get my act—and everyone else’s—together so that we can get out the door.
Oh, and let’s not even talk about dinnertime, and what a speed circus that is, between prepping and making dinner, running baths, bedtime (an eternity in and of itself), making lunches, bottles and more. I remember the olden days before kids, when I used to find relaxation in chopping up vegetables at dinnertime, whilst sipping on my wine and leisurely leaning against the counter to just stare out the window.
I can’t even finish my glass of wine at the end of the night anymore because I’m just so dang tired.
While we’re at it, I’m not proud to admit that sometimes when we’re in our rush out the door I have husband-like tendencies where I use the last bit of the toilet paper and don’t take the time to get a new roll from the stash in the basement. I don’t feel as much guilt if there’s a box of tissues on the back of the toilet though. Wouldn’t want to leave anyone hanging in there, intentionally. Geez…talk about being starved for time. Sort of pathetic, no?
I feel guilty, all the time, for never being able to give 100 percent of myself to my kids.
I feel guilty that sometimes, I’m so tired, they get my “leftovers.”
I want so much more than this. I have so much to give—and I feel like my time to disperse it is incredibly limited.
I want my kids’ childhoods to be leisurely—and I honestly wish I had the option to be a stay-at-home mom to my kids—to be someone who doesn’t have to rush from point A to point B every second of every day. Someone who has time to replace toilet paper rolls and fold bath towels into tightly packed, perfectly pressed tri-folds like my mother does. Someone who has time to just sit and stare in open-mouthed, mom-drooling awe at my 4-month-old son before he grows up too.
But for now, I’ll be late. Excusably late.
Pardon me. I’m just a working mom, trying to love my kids as much as I can love them, every second of every day that I get with them.
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