The Late Mom: You know the one! She’s always running into the PTA Meeting late, saying something about the dinner dishes, shattered plates and a gash on her toe.
She pulls up to the carpool line at school at the last minute, shouting, “Run!”
Her kidssay, “But, we’re not allowed to…”
“Run in the hall! I don’t care! We’re LATE, and next time we’ll get a notice from the principal!”
I hate to admit it, but yes, that was me! I wish I had a dollar for every time I arrived somewhere late. And every time I uttered the words, “I’m SO sorry I’m late.” After a while I stopped giving excuses, everyone knew I was “the late mom.”
I remember a conversation with my worship pastor. He made a statement that being late was a passive aggressive, control behavior. I have heard that before, and I started soul-searching a little bit. Was I passive aggressive? Was I a control freak? I tried to honestly assess myself, but it didn’t seem to ring true.
I started asking some friends, “What do you think is behind “late mom” syndrome? Is it selfishness? Control? Passive aggression? Some more experienced moms I talked to said they thought it was just the opposite. We are so worried about everyone else, that we lose track of what we need to do to get ourselves out the door.
Other moms opined that it might be disorganization, and lack of control. The absence of effective routines can sometimes make getting somewhere on time a harrowing ordeal, that’s for sure! But it still didn’t hit the right chord in me. I may not be the most organized person alive, but I do have some good systems in place.
I began to notice that if I was already out doing errands in my car, I was not usually late to pick the girl’s up from school. However, if I had to actually leave the house, it was almost always the same – LATE! So then, I tried to be aware of what I was feeling and doing right before leaving the house.
Many of you know that I have dealt with Anxiety Disorder for several years. Although it’s mostly under control, I have bouts of really hard times every now and then. As I contemplated leaving the house for an appointment, I would feel marked rise in anxiety, tightness in my chest, and I would walk around the house, stopping to think about what I was forgetting- usually nothing.
And then it hit me. My lateness had nothing to do with passive aggression or control freakishness. It was anxiety. I was subconsciously paralyzed by that ambiguous, irrational feeling!
I mentioned that to my worship pastor, because I had confided in him and asked him to pray for me, as I tried to change that part of me. I was a little apprehensive because of our past conversation, but he immediately bore witness, and told a story of someone he knew that had that same problem.
Ever since I came to this realization, I’ve been aware of my self-talk before I leave the house. I whisper a prayer and feel God with me as I get ready to leave the house. I send the kids down before me to get in their seats so I can gather my thoughts at the last minute, and just go! Now I won’t say I’m never late, but it is a lot more rare these days!
SO here’s my advice if you’re “the late mom”
- Start to track what you do immediately before you leave. How do you feel? What do the kids do? Could you have more effective routines? How do you prepare for leaving the house?
- Take that information, pray about it, and make a plan. The plan will differ for everyone, because I don’t believe you can pin one cause for habitual lateness.
Let me know, are you “the late mom?” What do you think is the cause, and what are your steps to shed that nefarious title?
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