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  • Writer's pictureNiamh O'Reilly

Running Late for a Living...

The thought of being late for something used to give me panic attacks. I’m talking heart palpitation, crack of your arse sweating, gut churning anxiety. It was drilled into me from a young age to be not just ‘on time’ for things, but a bit early. Being late was bad. Very, very bad.

As a consequence, for most of my adult life I’ve always been early for appointments, college, work, etc. You name it, I was early for it. I even set my watch ten minutes fast so I’d always be ‘on time.’ I used to roll my eyes at ‘those people’ who were always late for things.

How dare they? It’s not that hard? Why can’t they just leave the house earlier? It’s so disrespectful to the rest of us who put in the effort to get here early etc, etc.

Well many years, and two smallies later, I’m now one of ‘those people.’ Yes I’m pretty much running late for a living and I hate it.

But not for the reasons you might think.

Two days of the week my other half is now back in the office, which means I’m on solo duty for getting the two dudes up and out the door by 8.00am. It’s an early start for them and it’s really bloody hard to get them both up, fed and clothed and out the door on time.

There is always drama. In fact, I think I read somewhere, before I had kids, that parents who have to get small children up and out to school in the morning is akin to putting in a full days work, stress wise. Unsurprisingly I probably rolled my eyes at that… yes are you getting a clear picture of pre-kid me? She was SO tolerant.

Anyway, as you might have guessed, on these two days, we are always running late. Add traffic into the mix and it’s all a massive, sweaty, snappy mess. I can feel that ‘YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE NIAMH,’ fear from childhood creep in and it just ratchets my anxiety up and up, which is not a good thing.

So this week, I just decided to change my mindset. We were leaving the house at least 15 minutes later than we should have been and as we headed onto the motorway and into a line of soul sucking traffic, I looked at the little dude, who must have picked up on my ‘YOUR LATE’ anxiety and I said, ‘oh well, we’ll get there when we get there.’

And it was an unforeseen game changer and he looked as surprised as I was at my newfound sagely zen.

I felt the anxiety leave me. I began to realise, so bloody what if we’re late? Whats the worst that can happen? The sky won’t fall in. The world won’t end. The sun will still rise, life will go on and we will get there eventually.

It’s something that in a previous life would have just gone against my DNA to utter such chilled out words.

Now don’t get me wrong. I still like to be on time… you can’t get rid of a lifetime of habit just like that, but now by ‘on time’ I actually mean, well... on time or thereabouts.

It’s been huge for me.

I’ve started to accept that on some days we’re late. Big whoop. I accept that some days its better to be 10 minutes late then have agro with the kids before we even leave the house. That I’d rather have the little back and forth drama over putting on shoes and turn it into a bit of fun, then shout and get angry to try and be on time.

So why do you hate it, I hear you ask? Well, the reason I hate it, is that it’s feeding into that negative stereotype that modern mothers are all super busy, run down ‘mombies’ who are always late and have cheerios stuck to their mum bun.

It’s not fair to categorise mums that way and neither is it fair to try and heap the unattainable perfect standard of perfect mum, perfect house, perfect, kids that often set by the fake images portrayed on social media.

Two days of the week, I pretty much have to dry shampoo myself and febreeze the kids out the door. I end up doing mindless, exhausted things like, pour the milk into the caifetere instead of the boiling water and leave pieces of Luke's half-eaten toast on the roof of the car as we drive off to school. (Yes I did both this week!)

The morale is, some days I'm late. Some days I'm 'on time' and I’m starting to make my peace with that.


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