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Mom's Defense For Being Late For School

In Defense of the Chronically Late Mom

We're excited to share this post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we will be bringing you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post from Betsy Shaw about being late for school.

If I were to wear a scarlet letter it would be T.

T for tardy. T for turd ball. T for totally inept mother.

We are late for school with such alarming regularity it’s embarrassing. The last time we were on time, after a mini snowstorm that excited my children enough to urge them into their snowsuits and outside at 6:30 a.m., we got to school five minutes early to find it dark and empty. Delayed opening. I was apparently the only mother who didn’t get the memo.

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Calling Charlie Brown…

Being late for school brings up a vicious brew of conflicting emotion in me. On the one hand I just don’t care. Life is short. Far too short to risk traumatizing your children with a bullwhip and terrorizing morning walkers and squirrels, not to mention my own white-knuckled children, speeding our way to school like Toad on a motorcar bender each weekday morning.


On the other hand I am ashamed, deeply embarrassed, to be “that mom.” All the other moms can do it, even the single ones. Why. Can’t. I? What’s wrong with me?

I complained about this once to a woman from South Carolina who I met on my Guatemala trip and she told me her school started at 7:30. She also made it clear her kids were never late.

Never late.

Keep reading for more of Betsy's reasoning for being late.

The days when we are on time, the days one might think I would be feeling proud of myself for being such an organized, together mom, are the days I want to shoot myself for being such a wicked witch to my children from the moment they open their gorgeous, hopeful eyes to the minute they lurch, shoes untied, hair uncombed, socks odd, into the line up just in time to say “liberty and justice for all.”

Then I have the audacity to put on my nice mask and pretend to be sane and happy in front of the other mothers in the parking lot. Why is it we reserve our nice mask for adults, not our children?

It’s no wonder I didn’t get arrested or run someone down on the road this morning. I might have killed a couple of squirrels or a cow or something. I don’t know. I couldn’t see past the glare of the rising sun as it blazed, like a thousand blinding pieces of shattered glass, through the intricate fronds of ferny frost on my windshield.

Taking the time to find my scraper or wait for my car defroster to clear the ice and fog would have meant being late, again, for the 28th time this school year. No, I’m not exaggerating. I’m probably understating. It seems as if we are late at least twice per week, sometimes three times. And always by just a minute or two.

And if school didn’t start so flippin’ early, ten minutes to eight in our town, the sun might not be so flippin’ bright in my eyes.

In France, school started at a cushy, sane nine o’clock. Life was grand. We had time in the morning. I made real hot chocolate and we ate fresh bread, while Esther recited her latest French poem to all of us. Hell, we could have even had a bottle of wine with breakfast, so laid-back it was.

And we walked or rode bikes to school every day.

And I have to wonder why. Why should kids spend their childhood being rushed, shoved, screamed at, berated, denigrated, pushed, harassed, told to hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, HURRY UP, already!?


I’m tempted to send this blog post to President Obama, begging him to mandate later school start times and later school closing times (in France it was 9 to 4:30). It could benefit our nation. It could sell more bread and wine. And then I would never have to utter the following tired phrases ever, ever again:

“Stop talking and eat.”

“If you spent as much time eating as you do complaining, you would be done with your breakfast by now.”

“How many times do I have to ask you to put on your shoes?”

“How is it possible you can lose a left mitten three times in one week?”

“Socks, Isla. Socks. No one goes out in Winter without socks.”

“Why is it so hard for you guys to understand that school mornings are not meant to be pleasant? Think of it like the army. Wake, dress, eat, go. There is no time for jokes, smiles, stories, books, cuddles, curiosities, or concerns of any kind. Get it?”

Am I totally crazy or is it the rest of the world?

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Join The Conversation
nicole121482 nicole121482 5 years
I agree with Amber2291191, I also was the child of a chronically late Mom. Always late to pick me up, drop me off anywhere, anything! She seemed to think no matter how far away a place was, we could always get there in 5-10 was so absolutely embarrassing and mortifying and it also made me super conscious of ALWAYS being on time. To the unhealthy point these days, that I completely freak out if I'm running late and I'm an adult now with a child of my own. I believe it all stems back hating being late as a child. You just have to allow for more time to do things! Realize the time it should take and give yourself extra. I set an earlier time then necessary to be out of the house in the morning that way I have some leeway for when things go wrong.
Amber2291191 Amber2291191 5 years
As the daughter of a chronically late mom, I have to disagree. The embarrassment of sneaking in late to class already in session, day after day, is humiliating. 6th grade was a sequence of tardy induced lunch detentions. The laid back approach might work for you, but make sure your kids aren't paying for it. My sisters and I still suffer from a bit of social anxiety that I feel is rooted in the embarrassment of this perpetual tardiness. To this day, I would rather be a no show than stroll in late.
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