When I was a teenager, my mom was so annoying. We’d have plans to go somewhere, be it a family party or whatnot, and it would take her forever to get out to the car. I would be sitting there in disgust as to why this woman couldn’t get her act together.
“Moooom, Let’s go! I’ve been in the car for, like, two minutes already!”
Sure enough, a few minutes later, she’d come out the door juggling her side dish and the present and her purse and I would roll my eyes. She’d put everything in the car, muttering to herself like some crazy homeless woman trying to organize her collection of old grocery bags, and then stop and say, “shit.”
“Ugh!” I would complain, knowing full well that shit meant she had to go back inside for something. I’d lose her again for a few more agonizing minutes and she’d come out with some other piece of nonsense for whatever. Sometimes we’d be on our way and sometimes there would be another “shit.” Either way, my opinion on the matter was that my mother was old and confused and took her sweet time with everything, when I would have been gone, like, twenty minutes ago.
This phenomenon happens at my in-laws house, too. The Viking’s dad calls it “random acts” and he gets just as annoyed as I used to get with my mom. He complains that they need to leave by a certain time to make their reservation, but mom gets sidetracked with things that don’t need to be done right then, such as the laundry or dishes, suddenly needing to get the mail stamped, or a file folder organized.
I received a small taste of reciprocation when I dated someone in my 20’s who would fume that it took me a minute longer to jump out of the car, because I was saddled with the extra steps of, oh, putting the thing in park, shutting off the engine, grabbing my keys and pulling my purse from the backseat. But since this particular person had a bunch of other emotional issues, I didn’t put 2 + 2 together.
Then I became a mother myself. Of one, then two, then three, and it happened. I became the last one out the door, juggling a side dish and a present and my purse, muttering under my breath. I am the one who squeezes that last load of laundry in before we leave. I am the one who inevitably forgets something every time we go somewhere. Now that I am on the other side, I can tell you it is not because mom is a doddering, confused dipshit. It is because she is thinking 700x as hard as you, so your relaxed ass doesn’t have to.
Allow me to break it down for you:
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES BEFORE LEAVING THE HOUSE:
1. Find the door.
2. Walk out of it.
MOM’S RESPONSIBILITIES BEFORE LEAVING THE HOUSE:
1. Feed everyone.
2. Assemble and prepare the side dish.
3. Help kids find appropriate clothing for event.
4. Groom kids.
5. Wrap the present.
6. Groom kids again, because they bounced the barrettes right out of their hair.
7. Feeling shaky, did you remember to eat yet? No? Eat something.
8. Try to put on some makeup, but keep getting interrupted by husband who can’t find his “nice” pants.
9. Go to the laundry room for pants, see load in washer. Know you have to move it along before mildew sets in, but that means you have to fold the stuff sitting in the dryer. Lose 20 minutes.
10. Groom kids again who somehow have gotten peanut butter all over their faces or marker on their hands.
11. Try to put on a little lipstick.
12. Change a diaper.
13. Make a snack. Then another. Then another.
14. Remember the diaper bag. Pack it. Double-check all provisions and add pajamas if you’ll be out later than 8PM.
15. Start shuttling things out to the car.
16. Remember it was your cousin’s kids birthday last week. You left the birthday card on the counter top. Say “shit,” hear family sigh. Go back inside.
15. Find card under piles of things the family has carelessly dumped and note your tax bill has been hidden under all of it. It’s due in three days and if you don’t get it in the mail ASAP, you’re in trouble. Get out the checkbook and find a stamp.
16. Finally make it back into the car, trying to think if you got it all. Impatient family members interrupt your inner dialogue and you say, “Fine, let’s go.” You won’t know what you forgot until later when you need it.
17. Look at your feet to make sure you’re still not wearing slippers. Note the little greasy handprints on your dress. Sigh audibly.
18. Listen to someone ask why you women always get so wound up.
You may not think womenfolk should fret so much over these things, but if they didn’t, holidays would be sorry events, indeed. Your laundry would be moldy. Your children would be feral. No one would get birthday cards or presents or favorite comfort foods. And your tax bill would be late. So don’t question mom’s sense of timing, lighten her load a bit. It’s a much better gift than flowers.