If you know me, or if you have read my past columns, you know that I am often in a rush.
Some might picture “rush” as a charming sort of hurrying. But no, I am talking about a full-on, sweaty, vibrating rush; the kind that inspires a crowd to stare as I pass.
If I am behind people, even if I am rushing quietly, they will turn around to look. I think there is a pulsing energy that pushes out from frantic me and knocks into others. Being late and scurrying has become so much my signature that on the single occasion that I burst into church before the procession began, the priest turned to me and exclaimed, “Mary! What are you doing here? Am I running late?”
Awkward incidents abound when I am in my scrambling glory. I have pulled away from the gas pump with the hose still in my car’s tank, detaching it from its base and dragging it along the road.
I have backed through our just-purchased garage door. I have leaped into the wrong van, not once but twice. The first time the cleanliness of the van tipped me off.
The second time it was the woman who I almost sat on that was my clue. I can only imagine what thoughts raced through her head. She seemed pretty calm, but I think she was preparing her “Don’t hurt me, just take my wallet” speech.
When our first son was new and I was trying to get the two of us out the door on time, I worried that my war with time might damage him. I feared that being dressed and carried at warp speed would forever impact his delicate psyche.
Upon asking her advice, my mother’s wise words were, “He is in tune with your feelings. As long as you remain calm, he will be fine.” Well. He’s sunk.
I am baffled by my children’s reaction to my fatal flaw. One would think that a typical child’s response to a hysterical woman would be to avoid her and/or to try and match her furious pace. I find that my strange children conversely get in my way and reduce speed.
My middle son, who usually is a wacky racer himself, plods slowly past me and methodically buttons, snaps, zips and fastens every possible closure on his clothing before cautiously opening the car door. Normally, we are thankful if this son leaves the house wearing pants, never mind precisely tied shoes and neatened cuffs.
Our oldest son waits until I am at the precipice of a time microburst and then stands in my path and hugs me. And, not just a brief hug; this is of the lingering variety that requires my wriggling free (which leads to the accusation that I am not affectionate enough). When they were all small, our youngest son would choose the moment that we were charging for the car to begin a story.
Unfortunately, this son had to stop to talk, so our departure would screech to a halt. Our oldest son thought it was hilarious to interrupt him, knowing that our youngest had difficulty picking up where he left off and would need to start from the very beginning. Hilarious.
Recently, I heard a disturbing statistic. This assertion claimed that parents spend about 3.5 minutes in meaningful conversation with their children per week. Hmm. What I find truly disturbing about that is this: After spending an evening with me, just hanging, why do my children wait until my foot touches the bottom stair as I sneak toward bed to tell me that they need to talk?
Why do they wait until I am on the phone to signal a desperate need, only to forget what they wanted once I have hung up? And, really, do they have to lazily lean against the counter and ask, “So, how are you?” as I am dashing around, hastily preparing for our hectic day? Children, I want my 3.5 minutes. But, could we work on timing? I am old. I am tired. And, I wouldn’t want you to end up like the garage door.
Mary White is from the Malone area. She and her husband have five children, eight cats, two dogs and three guinea pigs. She has had the privilege of working with children and families (her own and other people’s) for more than 20 years. For more of her columns, visit http://marywhitelovestories.com.