last minute moms

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My mother wasn’t ever a big planner. When it came to clothes, she always made sure we were set, stockpiling our drawers, outfitting us with dress shoes and a proper dress coat each and every year. But overall, she is very laid back, a parenting trait I’ve definitely inherited. And I’ve always felt boastful about this, that I can leave everything to the last minute knowing, truly believing, that everything will turn out–not just fine, probably better than fine. My mother’s ingenuity was always born out of some type of last-minute chaos. Chaos often breeds creativity. We’re actually forced, on the spot, to come up with a creative “work around” to the situation. An unplanned “Show & Tell,” once lead me to bring in an artichoke from the fridge. No one in my class knew what one was, including the teacher. I was the star of the show. Win. Tomorrow is my artichoke.

Aside from kid birthday parties, Thanksgiving, and gift wrapping gifts, I’m not a planner. I don’t make plans, say, with other people, because I hate the feeling of dread that comes upon me, the day of, waking up and anticipating the set of actions I need to take to actually follow through. Why?! Why did I make plans? I’m not in the mood! I don’t want to be the flake, so I rarely make plans, leaving everything to the last minute. If it works out, great, we can all boast that we had such a great time, and look, it was so last minute, no stress. If not? No loss because it’s not like a whole bunch of planning went into it.

Kid birthday parties are a bit insufferable in this respect. Abigail is invited, Lucas isn’t. It’s just me. What do I do with my other child, if Phil is still at work? Then there’s the whole burden of getting an age and gender appropriate gift, not just that, but wrapping it. So this school year, I decided to stop with the dread. I loaded up on gifts and wrapped every last one of them, with sticky notes attached to describe the inner contents. Now, when the invites fly in, I’m psyched. All over it. Not sure what to do with the other kid, but I’ll live. Plus, the kids are always over the moon to receive mail, especially to a party! I’m going somewhere with this.

Pre-wrapped gifts, complete with personalized photo gift tags

I like these parties because they give me the opportunity to speak with other parents, people with whom I don’t often socialize… because, duh, I rarely make it out of the house. I’m a bit of a homebody, especially when it seems I have nothing to wear. Do you know how long I’ve been on the hunt for a gold top or a camel colored cardigan? Tangent.

These are reasons that I don’t make plans. Because I don’t know what my mood will be on any given upcoming day, and Lord knows how I’ll feel about the contents of my closet that day. Only, the big problem here is–no, not that I’m a hermit, no, not that I basically stew in my pajamas for days–that when you get in the habit of leaving everything to the last minute, it can impact your kids.

Tomorrow is Picture Day at school. Did I fill out the Portrait Order Form? Nope, not even close. Were there several email reminders sent to parents? You betcha. Did I get on it? Nay-nay. Am I on the actual PTA COMMITTEE for Class Photo Day? You can bet your ass. Payment was due September 18th. Phil didn’t care. It’s true, the pictures are always constipated-face, but isn’t that part of the awkward charm? They’re antiquated now, with digital cameras and phones. Still, I was always keenly aware of the kids in my class who didn’t take their one-on-one photo with the photographer, the kids who sat it out, were told to, “Sit over there by the radiator and wait.” While the other kids forced smiles and scratched through their opaque tights, there were the kids over there, the ones whose parents either couldn’t afford, or didn’t care for, a photograph of their child. I wasn’t ever that child, so I don’t know how that feels.

Yes, I’ve left it until last minute, and if they don’t have a school photo because of it, I’ll feed them nuts and force them to smile whilst posing, forcing them to make a strange curled fist, placing it beneath their chins without actually leaning on anything. Tomorrow my morning will be spent figuring out what time I need to show up (since I also didn’t respond to the PTA Committee email, asking to sign up IN ADVANCE for a time slot to help), to whom I give the order forms DAY OF, with cash because I have no blank checks in this house–very prepared, as always–and in all that, I’ll need to find something that fits. (Did I mention that I’m going back to Paleo? Long overdue. Instead of binging on ice cream tonight, I’ve just annihilated a package of Prosciutto. Tomorrow will at least be day 3 of no sugar or grains. Get to day four and things will start looking up).

I’d like to say that I’ve learned my lesson, that I’ll be more on top of things. But, I haven’t. I’m sure tomorrow will work out fine, just as everything always does. Last minute moms are my heroes.



  1. OK, please share your ideas for gifts! I have kids the same age as yours. And I have such a hard time finding gifts that a) affordable b) they don’t already have and c) represent the kind of wider 5 – 8 year old range.

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