Some days, I go through my routine and despite the insanity of being that person who's chronically late, I still somehow feel on top of things. Yes, I should know my weakness better and plan in more time to get myself places with E, but it just doesn't happen most of the time. Witness yesterday getting ready for the stay-and-play group:
E was still sleeping and it was time and past time to start getting ready for baby group. This was one of those rare proactive days where I'm dressed and have make-up on before 11:30 in the morning. After I had clopped into the bedroom (the leopard print heels were already on), I was gently shushing E awake in my arms. Thankfully, he was already dressed, too, which saved me a step. Once he had calmed down enough to be fed, it was time to shovel in a quick lunch before we headed out the door.
I dragged the highchair into the middle of the living room with my foot and began to empty my over-laden arms. A bowl of soup went on the desk. A sippy cup went onto the tray table. A toddler went into the highchair's seat. Yesterday was a day for fighting the food, so E thrashed and yelled until I pinned him down long enough to sneak in that first bite of soup. Once he remembered that soup was a lunch to be enjoyed, not a torture to be endured, he settled down enough to eat. That was good, but there were still things that needed doing...and we were already five minutes late.
Between spoonfuls of soup, I nipped into the nursery to grab E's shoes. 'One more bite, and then I need to put on the other shoe,' I told him. So long as I was quick about it, there weren't too many objections. Good. Shoes were on. Now I had to finish packing my purse and getting our cold weather gear together.
'Okay, two more bites and then I will get you a pumpkin muffin.' One of the tell-tale signs that you're the parent of a toddler? The bribery and bargaining over meals have begun. Not that E wasn't enjoying his soup - butternut squash soup is one of his favourite meals - but I needed to keep him as cooperative as I could to make our hasty departure from the house go as smoothly as possible. 'See? You're all done. That was very good!' Heaping praise on an empty bowl, I rushed into the kitchen to chop a muffin in half. Bringing back the spoils, it was time to get myself ready. Nearly eight minutes late, now.
'...And here's a hat...and this is a scarf...and these...' I said more to myself than to Ethan, 'are wrist warmers.' I pulled two pink accordion pleated tubes of fleece from the drawer and tugged them onto my hands. Another sign you parent a toddler? You narrate everything. Ever narrated your way through cooking dinner, setting the table, and two trips to the toilet? You will. As I buttoned up my nice coat, I was already clip-clopping back into the living room and hoisting Ethan from his highchair.
'Okay, Sweetie, let's put your hat on.' A nice ear-flapped cap of blue fleece to keep that head warm. Thankfully, he's past the stage where he immediately tries to remove any hat, cap, or beanie you place on his noggin. '...aaaand, your scarf...' This is actually my scarf, but I hadn't seen one made for babies when I first needed one, so I picked the one of mine that would look least effeminate on my son and bequeathed it to his wardrobe. 'Let's put your coat on, please!' This always makes me proud: he's picked up very quickly that he has to switch hands with whatever he's holding to properly put on his coat. Yesterday, it meant handing off the pumpkin muffin to get into that second sleeve.
'Alright, Monkey, it's time to go now! We're already late.' I snatched up my purse and keys and double-checked that the sippy cup was still inside. E had already toddled to the door and was waiting for me to open it. I obliged and let him wander into the hallway of the building as I pulled the door to. Clang! The interior flap to our mail slot had fallen off...again. That'll need fixing at some point. Twelve minutes late and counting.
Right now, though, was not that time. I hefted E onto my hip (it was too much effort to go get the buggy out of the car) and set off round the corner to the learning centre. Sure, I was running late because baby group always clashed with the end of E's nap now, but I felt good about myself. Walking to play group in leopard print heels and my nice black coat, holding my toddler on my hip, knowing he was well-dressed for the cold...and gnawing his way through a tasty homemade snack. My strength wasn't in the timing department, but I was put-together, E was properly dressed and fed, he'd had a pretty decent nap, and the house I was leaving behind was only marginally untidy. It all just seemed like the sort of perfected imperfection you see in movies and TV. Was I late? Yes. But did I manage to get us ready and out of the door quickly and efficiently? Absolutely. Sometimes the stress of the last minute actually makes me get my act together. Even 15 minutes late to play group, I still felt like a boss. At the end of the day, there's only so much worth stressing over.