“Those” parents

A few days ago an issue came up within the comment section of a post that I wanted to take further. Parents who are always late for events. That would be the OA and I, thank you. And let me not kid you, it irks us hugely as well.

We’re rarely late because the baby needed her sleep. No sirree. We’re mostly late because we left well in time and about half way down the highway the baby threw up and we had to pull over and clean up. Or because we stopped to get a pot of mishti doi for our hosts and the Brat got his hands on it and opened it up all over the backseat. And if you’re done laughing, let me tell you that my kids did both of these within 20 minutes of each other, barely two months ago. We reached our hosts’ home an hour late, exhausted, covered in white matter that could be either puke or mishti doi, and ready to kill our offspring and feed them to vultures.

I don’t believe in making kids our excuse every time we’re tardy. But until a fortnight ago, we were both employed in high pressure jobs that called us at odd hours and kept us up nights at times. So depending on who the friend is, that you’re cursing, do try to take their entire lifestyle into consideration. What hours do they work? How old are their kids? Do they have family that they can leave the kids with? How many kids do they have? Is it convenient to them to attend your mid-noon party on a working day? If they’re hauling their sorry arses to your place anyway, after having lost one of their precious half days on your party, could you appreciate that instead of noticing that they’re a half hour late?

It’s been a tough two years for us with the OA travelling, me working, endless homework for both the kids, a high attrition rate of maids, a hectic social life and a lot happening on the family front. But we’ve made it to every social occasion even if it kills us. I feel that often its not appreciated enough.

I’ve seen people say they can’t make it because they have a something or the other scheduled for that day. I’ve even had friends call up and honestly admit that they’re just too exhausted after a long day to step out again for a party. Why then is it so hard to accept that your friend has her child’s nap scheduled at that hour? Sure, personally I’d drag a kid along and let them sleep in the car, but hey, whatever floats their boat. I spent the better part of the day debating the other side on my last post. Because I don’t think kiddie timings are sacrosanct. But that said, I also wish people who don’t have kids would appreciate what their friends are doing. You’d be okay with me coming late after a meeting, but not if my child wasn’t back from his karate class? Not fair.  What makes his plans less important than your plans?

Anyhow, this is not to say that coming late anywhere is acceptable. If plans are made around only 2 couples, the OA and I make it on time, even if our butts catch fire. If its a party of 30 people and we’re not holding up dinner, we try to get back from work, get the kids settled, definitely, definitely inform the host we’ll be a little late and come in maybe 30 minutes late. If we’re stuck in traffic we always inform the host that we’re running late.

I got two nice forwards from friends and even though I don’t really like to use forwards as posts, I’m putting both up here for your reading pleasure.

The first is Carolyn Hax’s column from the Washington Post. You can read the original here.

And the other is A Mother’s Prayer at Night.

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray my sanity to keep.

For if some peace I do not find,

I’m pretty sure I’ll lose my mind.

I pray I find a little quiet —

Far from the daily family riot.

May I lie back – not have to think,

About what they’re stuffing down the sink.

Or who they’re with, or where they’re at,

And what they’re doing to the cat.

I pray for time all to myself —

Did something just fall off a shelf?

To cuddle in my nice, soft bed —

Oh no! Another goldfish – dead!

Some silent moments for goodness sake —

Did I just hear a window break?

And that I need not cook or clean —

Well heck, I’ve got the right to dream.

Yes, now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray my wits about me keep,

But as I look around I know —

I must have lost them long ago!


48 thoughts on ““Those” parents

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!!! We’re usually quite on time, but there have been the occasions when we walked in late to accusing eyes and questions, instead of appreciation for nearly having killed all of ourselves to get there! And when my son was an infant and toddler, I missed out most functions coz of his naps…but made it a point to go before or after and give a gift or wish personally over the phone at least…some people appreciated it, some actually.stopped.inviting.me.after.that!!!

  2. I so know what you mean.. I’m a terribly ‘agenda’ driven and I’ve refused to go to many social get togethers because.. ‘it’s the kids’ sleep time’. I think it helps to have your priorities right. Friends always understand and the others.. well they don’t matter.

  3. We had this really lousy experience recently- My daughter A has a friend at school whose mother is a very close friend- we’re more like family. She had a birthday party the weekend before last. She had invited most of the girls in her class, and supposed that whoever had confirmed that they would come, would- since it was at lunch on a Sunday. It was at a farmhouse near our place, and the families were invited along with the girls. Now everybody had arrived by 12 noon, and we were waiting for one girl to arrive. So my friend called up her mother to check if they would be late, as we would have liked all the girls to be there for the cake-cutting.
    Now everybody understands it if something comes up last minute that just cannot be avoided, and the lady in question could have just made a call saying that they could not make it for whatever reason. What really irritated us is that she was like- C’mon, it’s no big deal- it’s Sunday morning, and how does anyone expect the kids to get up early and go anywhere? It doesn’t matter- maybe she could send the gift to school with her daughter?
    We were really pissed off (sorry for the language, but there is no other word that I can use here!) by her words and behaviour. After having confirmed that they would come. I mean, she knew it was a Sunday when she said yes, and whatever the reason-maybe her kids didn’t get up early every sunday- she could have said sorry we can’t make it, we are held up for something, and sorry I didn’t call to let you know.

  4. We don’t have kids yet, but I could still relate to this post. pretty much every word of it.

    Being a working couple, staying away from parents and in-laws, we do face the same set of questions – why are you late? why do you never call? why don’t you message as often as before? Well, it is tough managing EVERYTHING from grocery shopping to cooking to the spouse’s travelling to travelling to office (which is quite far from our place) to managing a high-pressure job. would highly appreciate it if people understood instead of cribbing. the first 10 free minutes i get, i just want to spend it with myself rather than with someone else.

    • well i try and use my travel time for calls. multitasking. and err.. .dont kill me, but if you’re late often without a concrete reason other than wanting two minutes to relax, i can see why they get mad 😉

      • i understand what you’re trying to say.. but it is not like that. 😦
        it is more often due to wanting to relax a bit. we have tried to make it to every possible occasion on time, but it just drains you out.
        Travel time is the only free time i get with the hubby, so we prefer spending that with each other..

        • yeah.. i guess well we all have our priorities. and i understand that it upsets friends when they realise they are not amongst them. which is why even if it kills us we make it. even after having moved out into the suburbs. it only means that when we crash into bed at night, we have dreamless sleep

          • You have hit the nail on the head here MM. I don’t have kids (though I adore my friends spawn), and what gets my goat is when people don’t seem to respect your time and affection. And this is irrespective of whether they have kids or not.

            I know people who are in a grueling MBA programs, and some of them use that as an excuse to not even respond to emails and invites, while others sneak in a quick line to graciously decline. You know which ones I like.

  5. the forwards moved me to tears. putting yourself second. that’s what motherhood means when you have very little kids. i haven’t had the time to take a bath today.

  6. I think the writer to the Washington Post column is pretty insensitive/clueless.

    On the other hand, I do feel sometimes that some (not all!) of my friends with kids could be as sensitive to me as I am to them.

    Some friends have said things like “You’ll never experience true unconditional love until you have a child” or “You only mature when you have a child”. It might be true for them individually, but to make a blanket statement and be so insensitive to others!
    One friend even called me up a day after a death in my family to ask for help with her kids’ homework. I was so astounded I actually helped her. 🙂

    • that was one statement that pissed me off until i had kids. then i went over to the dark side – i think i said it in my last post too. and you will notice that most people who hated being on the receiving end of that statement will swear by it once they have kids. perhaps there is something to it? for that matter – isnt it true of anything? you will experience no thrill like bungee jumping until you do it. you will not know pain until you lose a loved one…
      but you’re right – maybe there is a better way to phrase it like – I had never experienced unconditional love until i had my kids. who is to say you dont love someone else unconditionally.

      • Actually MM, I used to hate it when people make blanket statements like that. And now I have a kid, guess what? I still hate it. I think what you said — I have never experiences unconditional love until I has my kids” is a much better way of putting it.

  7. and what should we say about friends who don’t have children, have a relaxed job (9-5)servants for everything (even grocery shopping)husband mostly working from home and still cancels party invitation at last moments only to say that they were tired. no i am not judging her but sometimes i really feel like not inviting them over.

    • Rim,
      Sometimes couples without children have more responsibilities than you might think.

      For example, we have a large, close family and often get dumped with everyone’s paperwork, application forms, financial stuff, holiday planning, lease agreements and so on..not to speak of loans. (Don’t get me started on how you become a soft touch if you don’t have children)

      My brothers & sisters know all this very well but still assume we have nothing to do on weekends.

  8. Really, with two small kids, its a miracle to even reach the party. And I can hardly socialize ’cause I have to keep attending to the kids. One keeps running around dangerously close to breaking something, and the other is crying every half hour either for milk or for nap.
    Just yesterday, my daughter’s annaprashan got delayed by hour ’cause madame decided to poop after we dressed her all up. That too in such a way that it leaked out of her diaper and soiled all the clothes and we had to give her a bath again!
    Our guests who arrived on time had to be kept waiting ’cause the hosts were late!!!

    • i’ve seen that. birthday baby throwing up on everything including new clothes and parents. its a good thing most of the invitees are other parents. as a rule i dont invite any non-parents to birthday parties. its sheer torture for them

  9. MM, while all this is true, some parents do make their kids an excuse for their terrible time management. i think everyone understands a half an hour delay every now and then, but then there are some folks i have SEEN in action and seriously their tardiness has NOTHING to do with their poor kids!

    but yes, one would be expected to understand. i have on my part also scoffed at nap time excuses because i would make Cub sleep in the car etc. but then yeah, guess whatever works for everyone!


  10. Okay.. so it was my comment that triggered this post…I went back to read it..and I notice that we have had a fairly nice conversation about it..n I hope to have the same here…

    I know my response is probably going to make many mommies mad.. but pls pls pls don’t play the “ur not a mommy so u won’t u’stand” card.

    YES..I’m not in the mommy shoes..so I don’t see things exactly the way u do… but yet..i do see things.

    This post couldn’t be more perfectly timed.. There are 7 babies who celebrate their B’day in Oct, where I live..so u can only imagine the num of B’day parties we are attending.. + its the Dusshera/Diwali season..so we tend to have those gatherings too. Why , I myself am having a Diwali party at my place soon.

    So to set the record straight …my issue is with PEOPLE….singles, couples with/without kids, wotever..who are LATE for parties CONSISTENTLY..(keywords in caps)

    So..on the 9th (a Saturday) my husband and I were taking part in the Alzheimer’s walk..and had an invite for a B’day party at noon. We told the hosts that we will be late by an hour and that they should carry on with the cake-cutting w/o waiting for us. My husband is very very particular about timings…so we were there at 1. The hosts arrived 5 mins after us! A few guests were already waiting.

    Yesterday had an invite for another B’day party invite. The hostess…had called me the prev Sunday and said..we are planning to cut the cake at 11:30 sharp, please don’t be late. It won’t be like other parties..we don’t get late. Blah Blah. I had offered help to cook/decorate etc..n she had said “no..thanks. we have it covered”
    Yester was pooja..so we had to wake up early..make the Prasad, finish the pooja all that , so that we could be at the party at 11:30 am. The husband wanted to be there at 11, but I refused knowing how late ppl around here generally are…n guess what… the hosts turned up at 12:30. AFTER they came….a few of guests who were already there had to arrange stuff..n cut salad n fruits…n blend icecream with mango pulp(if u know how messy that can get!!)..all in our party clothes…. Like HELLO?!?!?!..in the US..u gotta to do everything by urself…specially at a place like where I stay..even the option of catering Indian food isn’t available..so its only friends who can help. Now , if help was requested and taken at the very beginning, things may have moved along better? n no, she is not new in the us. Has lived here atleast 4-5 years.

    So ya..i know li’l ones schedules are hard to predict. I do really know that. But I find it hard to believe that every single time ..the same ppl’s kids are the reasons for them being late. Many couples(around here atleast) use their children as an excuse for them getting late..n that, I am absolutely not okay with.

    Last New Year I had a potluck party at my place…and the guests who were suppose to bring appetizer came at 9 pm for a 7 pm party. GIMME A BREAK! They stay a mile away..2 mins driving distance from my place…couldn’t one of them just come n give the appetizer!?! You can’t be the host/ take on a imp responsibility that u get to the party in decent time and be late.

    I NEVER have my parties during the day..’coz I can’t cook n have the house n ourselves ready on time for lunch.. so I ALWEZ ALWEZ host evening parties only. So I feel people gotta figure out what will never work for them..n decide accordingly.

    The grapevine says, my sis is not very good with arriving on time either. I have these conversations with my sister too…n tell her ya…having kids makes it tougher to get ready for a party, nobody is arguing that. But I do know of other parents, who manage very well. (n YES..i know all kids are not the same) Of course they have their bad days n good days n nobody has a complaint about that. But every single time???? There will be those times when things get out of hand..but those times can’t occur ALL the time!

    With some people, it’s just about better time management. I’m pretty sure many of the couples who are late all the time “coz of kids”….were also late when they didn’t have kids…Its just that now they have what they think is a valid excuse.

    I’d like to re-emphasize…issue is not when ppl are late every once in a while..that happens with all of us…it’s with people who are late ALL the time!

  11. MM, you’re preaching to the choir again, I’m afraid! You need to send such posts to outside publications, not your blog! 🙂

    That said, we did check out socially (which, given we aren’t party types, wasn’t much!) for a few years when our kids were littler – but that was our choice, and the friends who understood, did, and those who didn’t didn’t…I don’t lose sleep over it anymore.

    and no, no one sympathizes just because you have kids, or just because you don’t….so do what works for you. 🙂 I even give up on invites to religious events nowadays, which is huge for me, because I was brought up with the religious-events-are-sacrosant, you have to go if it kills you, attitude…


  12. This situation only gets worse as kids grow older and are in high school. What do you do when your children have exams/tests/projects/science fair/soccer games/debate club etc., that they have to work on during the weekend – 1)do you accept the invitation and leave the kids with their work and you go 2) do you go late 3) do you go on time and leave early 4) do you say you can’t make it. None of these options are easy….because we all want to keep our social connections and who doesn’t love to get invited to a party!

    • okay now that i’ve had kids and seen how i’ve had to eat my words (!) i’m going to avoid making a strong statement here. what i hope i will do is leave the kids to their work and go out and do my own thing. when kids are young their security is a huge issue and so they cant be left in the park while you go off. also, if they’re home, they’re always happy to have your company. but as they grow older, they can be left to their projects/playdates/sleepovers/ exams. because they are physically safe (i hope!) and no longer crave your company. what do you think?

      • Unsupervised teenagers have the potential to get into a whole lot of trouble. We do leave our children at home when we have doctor appointments or need to go to the store or when they have a day off and we have to work. Leaving them home for a party is what I am not comfortable with. And we are facing this situation only from this school year onwards.

        We as family do a lot more fun things together now. Earlier it was kid stuff or adult stuff where one party is necessarily not having fun. We can now go out and have a great dinner, or take-out and watch a movie together at home. Even shopping can be a fun experience when they are older. Travelling is what they enjoy the most at this age.

        When you know that in a few years they will be off to college and you will be empty nesters, it is very hard for me to leave them at home and go do my own thing. The weekend free time you get with them is so precious that you want to make the best use of it. Even parties get in the way sometimes when you have to attend 2 or 3 in one weekend.

        And in my experience, your child is most impressionable from ages 9 – 18 and that is when they need you emotionally the most. With kids, every age is different and we have to adapt to what is best for that age. Social pressures will always be there and we eventually do what works the best for our family!!

        • humans of any age can get into any amount of trouble 🙂 after a point i guess you have to trust your upbringing and let them alone for a couple of hours. else we’d be making a case for older children staying in daycare or having full time maids for them. or then one parent never going back to work. i think what hits most of us while leaving them alone for a party, is guilt. after all unsupervised is unsupervised, regardless of where you are going. right? i totally get you on that feeling.
          that way i think my parents partied helluva lot and didnt even sit with us during exams. those were different times. i think i once wrote a post on it on my old blog

          but the second point you make is a different one and one that hits me all the time. the fact that i only have them for a scant 15 years or so more after which there is a lifetime of focusing on self available. also yes, i truly enjoy being out with them. right now they are so young that it exhausts me. but i’m really looking forward to them being 10 and us being able to do stuff that doesnt tire them out and interests both of us.

          but in this case we’re saying that we’re really not interested in going for the party being thrown and would rather stay home with the kids – not that we’re unable to because of some emergency. i guess that might upset friends who won’t take it well for too long.

  13. O My God! EVERY weekend we face this situation! Even with parents who’s kids have grown, they too don’t get our predicament. I have twins! So maintaining their schedule is paramount to our sanity. I am losing friendships everyday. Well, so be it!

  14. Actually, I have a German friend who works as a missionary in India. She is expecting her 6th baby…all are c-sec’s!! She is nearing 40 no less. She has tremendous faith though…to which she attributes her smooth pregnancies so far. Her first baby was born at the age of 32! all delivered in india, in Varanasi, no less. So what I am driving at is, that these days one can have more than 3 c-secs…think about it. lolll


  15. hey, this is off topic..but any new songs you recommend? the one i am tripping on now is ‘bin tere’ (i know i am wayy behind)-especially the acoustic version…

  16. We’re always late simply because the good man and husband is just genetically wired to never be on time. Its exasperating! The man just cannot be on time ever and no amount of raving and ranting will change it. Have just started lying to him about what time we need to reach a place now :>

  17. It isn’t just people with kids. I guess people with kids can be excused for not having time… at least time to eat out at that restaurant that doesn’t allow kids.

    The minute my friends get into a relationship, they drop off the horizon. They lose their complete self in the other person, not because that person in question is a little thing absolutely devoted to you and needs you every single minute. They just do.

    Parents evolve into another state of individuality that is unique and yet linked to their kids. New couples… they just fuse.

    My friends with kids are somehow more social… and so are their kids.

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