I’m bustling into a restaurant, a child on my hip, another gripping the crook of my elbow, a backpack hanging off my shoulder, hitting innocent bystanders as I clamber between tables. Everyone looks, but I don’t notice. Or if I do notice, I don’t care. My eyes are searching the restaurant, and then I see her—my childless friend sitting at a table by her lonesome. I sigh with relief she hasn’t left yet, and she smiles at the sight of us. Thank God she does. If I saw us barreling into public, I’d probably look the other way.
“I am so sorry I am late,” even though I desperately mean it, I say it hurriedly as I begin removing jackets, stuffing a child into a high chair, helping another into her seat, set my purse and the backpack down, and immediately begin digging around for crayons.
“It’s OK, you’ve got your hands full,” she says, staring at me as I still haven’t sat down. And I think to myself yep, she’s right. But then I get mad at myself that she shouldn’t be right. Lots of people have two little kids—are they always late? Perhaps. I know I am.
If I am towing two extra people around with me, yes, I’m going to be late.
Especially if I’m alone. And with my husband’s two jobs and starting a new business, it happens often.
I finally sit, and there is immediate questioning from one or more children on if there is mac and cheese on the menu (if not, whyyyyyyy), and are they allowed chocolate milk, and a need to know the whereabouts of a bathroom in case it’s needed, and how many steps do I think we walked from the car to our seats. . .
Finally, we fall into conversation and there are pictures being colored and jokes being shared, and I feel better I left her sitting here by herself for an estimated 35 minutes. (Not like I checked the time every six seconds on the drive over).
So, to my friends and family, I’m sorry I’m late.
I’m always late.
And until my tiny humans can dress themselves, brush their own teeth and hair, find and tie their own shoes, put on and zip their own jackets, get their own snacks and drinks, and change the channel on the television by themselves so I can change out of my pajamas—I will continue to be late. And I’d like this to be a blanket apology to everyone I may arrange plans with for the next ten years. I’m sorry, but if I tell you the kids and I will be there at 12:30, know we probably won’t be there until 1. At best.
I have good intentions. I don’t wait until the last minute to get everyone assembled—often, it’s the opposite of that. Often, we’ve all started getting ready two hours before we are scheduled to leave the house.
But more often than not, there is a meltdown over an incorrect sock, or someone is starving because they only ate a half of a waffle for breakfast, or the incorrect sippy cup has the incorrect fluid, or someone wants their already dry hair blow-dried. So I have to then wet said hair to blow it dry again. Yes, this is a real example. I am not creative enough to make this up. Or someone just doesn’t want to get dressed and hides behind curtains or under tables or in closets which will inevitably turn into a game of unexpected hide-and-seek. And no, friends, I cannot plan for a 15 minute game of spontaneous hide-and-seek. So, we’ll just be late. And for that, I am sorry.
We’ve all been there. If you are a mom and you are reading this, I bet you are nodding along like, “Yep, Johnny lost his mind yesterday because I put red socks on him and he wanted the blue ones.” Poor Johnny. Poor Mommy. Poor friend sitting at Applebee’s on her second sangria and half-eaten plate of nachos.
But hey, we’re all in this together, right? Your understanding means more than you know to your friend with the children.
Your smile, your “no worries” after the 10th “I’m running late” text, your genuine interest in our kids . . . we appreciate it. We appreciate you.
Nobody was pulling your chain when they said it takes a village to raise children—it truly does. And once we as moms embrace this phrase, life becomes a little bit easier. And, sometimes, the village means children-less friends.
Which is why—when your gal pal shows up with her hair in a ponytail from yesterday, assorted children clutching her arms and legs, and a Disney backpack slung around her shoulder bumping into people as she walks—you should smile. Wave. Take a child from her, let a child know where the bathroom is when they sit down, and for goodness sake, order a drink for her before she arrives. Don’t ask her, just do it. She needs it. I can guarantee you she’s argued with at least one smaller version of herself that day about why we need to flush the toilet or wear pants outside. Order the drink for her and another for yourself because congratulations, you are part of her wonderful, sometimes insane, often chaotic, village.
And cheers, because there isn’t a village that’s better.
Previously published on the author’s blog
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