Between daycare drop off and a meeting at a friend’s house I had a few minutes of time to spare. I walked to the waterfront and watched the steam billow off the surface of the lake. It was one of those negative degree mornings, and the lake was actually warmer than the air, and so it steamed. It was as if the lake was breathing. Despite the cold, it was a quiet moment; a moment that I found myself fully enjoying.
But don’t be mistaken a mere 20 minutes before then I was swearing under my breath, damning every slow car that made me hit every red light on the way to drop my child off at daycare.
We were running late.
I hate being late.
Are you the type of person that is always late? Or are you punctual? I would say that 75% of the time I am punctual. Running late gives me anxiety. I hustle the children around, growing impatient at their slow movements, and often have to bite my tongue while suppressing my road rage. I don’t like being late for appointments or classes. If someone is offering you a service, like a haircut, or an exam, or teaching you a class, or teaching your children, the least you can do is show up at the time they request. It’s respectful. I am often late to meet friends for dinners or for play dates. Even then, it’s usually by only a few minutes. Nonetheless it’s unfair to the person who has showed up at the agreed upon time.
The worst part about running late however, is when it involves things with my children. Like I said above, I take my frustrations out on them. I forget to breathe. I am grumpy. I expect too much of them when we’re running late.
Like, why can’t my two year old just deal with the fact that her thumb isn’t in the thumb hole of her mitten. Or for the love of god, why can’t my six year-old buckle his own seatbelt? In reality, I should be taking my frustrations out on myself rather than them. When it comes down to it, I am the reason we are late. I am the one who is in charge of budgeting our time. I’m the one who should remember that Ruby has to have her special toys for the car and that Henry will undoubtedly throw a major overly dramatic tantrum if his shirt is too bulky for his winter coat. If I’m better at proactively anticipating this, I can therefore allow more time for these extra hurdles when leaving the house. Kids are going to be pokey. They are going to need reminding to get dressed and get ready. At least mine do. If I could just budget my time a bit more there’d be less hustling. Granted there are plenty of outside influences that can ruin your punctuality…traffic, car problems, kid problems (i.e. mommy I gotta pee or mommy I feel sick…).
After my moment with the breathing steaming lake, I got back in my car and glanced at the clock. I still had plenty of time before my meeting. I decided to drive slowly and stop for a coffee on the way. I arrived to my meeting on time. I was calm and relaxed. I kept thinking to myself, if only I could be more like this with my children. If I could at least allow extra time (when possible) to get to classes, sports, and play dates, I would be able to handle a few extra red lights with ease. Or better yet, I would be able to accommodate my children’s normal childhood neediness with more gusto.