My gorgeous little Button-Pusher has got into the habit of requiring a nappy change, just as we’re about to leave the house, and it has the power to push buttons of annoyance, anger and frustration all at once. It drives me crazy. Really crazy. I leave the house these days in a rush and a rage, and I started to wonder why.
I’m not known for my timekeeping. A friend once told me (when we were planning a night out) that she’d only meet me if I was going to be on time. I was so annoyed that a few days later I emailed and said I couldn’t make it. I look back now and realise that I was actually really embarrassed that someone had called me on my perpetual lateness. Another friend once told Mr Baffled and I that a lunch started half an hour before the actual start time. We arrived ten minutes “late”, which of course meant in reality we were 20 minutes early. Everyone thought it was funny, but once again I was so annoyed that I sat internally fuming, and didn’t enjoy the first hour of the lunch. Again, I now realise that I was embarrassed at being the centre of a joke about my timekeeping.
I think that I’m often late because I’m over optimistic about how much time I have to get ready and out of the house. The Swedish have a word for it: tidsoptimist. It means ‘time optimist’ and I am most definitely one of those. Another, very punctual friend, believes that people who keep him waiting, do it selfishly, and because they have little respect for his time. I struggle with this assessment: there may be people who don’t care about keeping friends waiting, but I’ve never been late for that reason, and it of course bothered me that people might think I was.
Now that I’m the mum of a toddler, we leave the house a lot: playdates; music classes; ballet; nursery school. And yes, we’re often late, or rather we’re just about on time having rushed and raced like crazy, and usually with me saying things like, ‘quick we’re late! Shoes! Coat! Into the car quick quick quick!’ It’s during these moments that B-P has a habit of pushing my buttons, the annoyed, angry, frustrated buttons that can drive a parent insane. Recently she’s taken to timing her daily Number 2 so that just moments before we need to leave the house, a nappy change is required. This event has the power to infuriate me. It drives me crazy thinking about the time it will add on, and how much more late we’ll be. Poor B-P: a perfectly natural bodily function and her mother is furious.
In light of recent thoughts about moving on from nappies, I found myself wondering whether it was the nappy itself that wound me up so much, or something else. Was it about a lack of control: something else I’ve pondered on recently. But it struck me that our children so often hold up a mirror to ourselves. It’s not a poo-filled nappy that drives me mad: it’s the fact that it shines a light on my poor timekeeping. It’s a reminder that once again I’ve misjudged how much time we had to get out of the house, and that a toddler requires more time than a grownup, and just can’t be rushed. In those moments I’m not really annoyed by B-P’s bowel habits (or the time it takes for her to get into her shoes), I’m embarassed that once again I got it wrong and I might be late. Only now I’m making someone else late too: my daughter. I’m teaching her that it’s ok to leave the house in a crazy rush and arrive out of breath, stressed, and with people waiting for you. And I hate that: I hate that I’ve done it again, misjudged the time so badly, and especially I hate that I might be passing on a poor habit. It’s that emotion that causes those buttons to be pushed. It’s not a toddler’s bowel movement: that was just the trigger.
I’m typing this post with one eye on the clock, to go and pick B-P up from nursery. I wonder what I’ve learnt writing this one, and whether I’ll leave the house on time? *
* Don’t be silly! I had to race out the house and finish the post when I got back! 🙄