“I’m sorry I’m late.”

Is the single sentence I’m sure I say the most. I don’t mean to be. I never intend to be late. I specifically get up earlier, or leave the house earlier or set my watch at funny times to avoid being late, but it just doesn’t work. My lateness problem didn’t start when I became a parent, but it did get increasingly worse the minute I found out I was pregnant with my eldest.

I think its like sleep – bad sleep in pregnancy prepares you for having a child. Not being able to move quickly or constantly needing to be sick every time you leave the house makes you late for things. This is in preparation for having a child who walks at 0 miles an hour or is sick on your last clean outfit and makes you late for things too.

You’re right, now I’m making excuses. But I guarantee, by the time I leave my house I have done a million things, all of which needed to be done, and all of which were slowed down dramatically by the two tiny humans who inhabit my home. Next time you hear me say these words, or next time you hear another busy mum apologise, think of this story.

Today, I had a presentation to do in front of my entire department at university. Admittedly I had left much of the preparation until last minute, so naturally I ended up finishing my prezi slides while balancing my laptop on the changing table with my youngest in the sling so I could get them done in time. Why was I using the changing table as a workstation? Because my toddler was sleeping in the other room and I needed her to stay asleep so badly that I put myself in a very uncomfortable position. (It didn’t work, she woke up shortly afterwards).

By the time I had completed my presentation slides and notes, I had approximately 40 minutes before I was due to give my talk. Bearing in mind that I was fortunately fully dressed at this point, but did have to travel for 15ish minutes to get to my destination. I also had a package to wrap up, label and send en route (but I eventually decided to send it on my way home). Of course, I now needed to unwrap my little one from the sling, and pass her over to my husband. She proceeded to wake up, and the toddler, who was running around causing all kinds of destruction, needed to be tamed. This is where my good friend cbeebies was utilised. At this point I packed my bags and put my shoes on. Nearly ready to go. Plenty of time.

However, my youngest is only 3 months, and exclusively breastfed. She generally feeds every 2-3 hours, and since I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be gone, it was a good idea I try to feed her before I left so that my husband wouldn’t have the hassle of trying to get her to take a bottle (she sometimes objects). So of course, I then had to sit down, whip my boob out and feed my little one, who was also emitting some suspicious smelling smells from her nappy. In the midst of feeding, my in laws rock up at our door. We were expecting them – but not until later in the afternoon – so naturally they arrived just before I had to leave and it was necessary I at least make some semblance of greeting in their general direction before I ran off leaving a baby exploding poo from her nappy to my mother in law, and left her and my husband to deal with the damage.

I ran out the door to the bus stop, and stood there in the freezing Scottish cold, regretting not remembering a scarf in my frantic escape. The bus was late. Of course it bloody was. It was a good thing I had change with me or else I’d have needed to run to the cashpoint too for the exact change required. Finally it rolled up slowly, and I got on behind what were possibly two of the slowest elderly ladies one might ever meet.

A short while later I arrive at my destination bus stop with 4 minutes to get to the exact room I’m presenting in. I run inside the building, pause outside the lifts to decide if its worth waiting or worth making the extra effort to run up the stairs. My thunder thighs do not thank me for making the latter choice and running up 3 flights of stairs and down a loooong corridor. I arrive at the room, creak the door open, and utter, embarrassed – “I’m sorry I’m late.”

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