Some Days I Really Rock the Parent Gig. Or Not.
Forty minutes after Patch’s Lego Brick Camp ended, I got a phone call from the teacher.
“So, um, are you going to come pick up your child?”
At which point I apologized profusely, promised it would never happen again, and barely took time to hang up before grabbing purse and keys to drive very fast. The place is only five minutes from my house. All the way there I berated myself, felt horrible, and worried that Patch would be distraught at being forgotten.
I arrived and Patch was happily helping clean up bricks and put away chairs.
“Some other parents were late too,” The teacher said as I apologized yet again. “Then I got talking with them until I realized you weren’t here yet, so I called. It was no trouble.”
“I told him you’re late sometimes.” Patch volunteered.
I’m late sometimes. A part of me dies inside that my son knows and believes this about me. Surely part of being a mother is being reliable. My other kids would have panicked if I’d been forty minutes late. I wasn’t late for them. Patch has a different mother than they did at his age. Patch’s mother works. He’s learned that sometimes I’m late and the world doesn’t end if that happens. which is actually a good thing in some ways. Patch is more self reliant and confident than my other kids were.
Yet I don’t have “flaky about afternoon appointments” in my self image. In my head I’m reliable. Mostly. I’ve been memorably late twice in the past year. Both times I was focused on a computer task and was too far away from my cell phone to hear the alarms I set for myself. I set those alarms on purpose…because if I don’t, I’ll forget. So, yes, I’m flaky. I’ve developed systems to handle the flakiness. Most of the time they work and no one can tell. Then I can pretend to myself that I’m completely reliable, when actually I’m human and prone to make mistakes.
Patch and I made a joke out of my lateness all the way home. We laughed together about it, which is probably a healthier way to approach things than for me to plunge into guilt-driven despair. However both Patch and Howard independently arrived at the conclusion that my contrition for being so late ought to extend far enough to spring for Wendy’s. So I did, and all was well again. I’ve also set more alarms for tomorrow and made them much louder. Once can be funny, more than once is bad.
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