Once upon a time, I was not a flake. I made plans, and then, shockingly, I kept those plans. The keeping of plans was accomplished quickly and easily with a minimum of bizarre requests (the current mainstay of my existence). These days I have children and therefore I am a flake. I cancel plans, I show up late and without appropriate clothing, food or that item I borrowed from you ages ago and crossed-my-heart promised to return. If you have children, then I’m guessing you are too.
We are flakes together. Huzzah.
We make plans with wild abandon, hoping that the planets will align and we will actually, this time, be able to go to the thing. We want to go to the thing, we really do! We love the thing. But it’s highly unlikely we will ever be able to go to the thing. Here are four of my most common reasons for flaking, in no particular order. Because I’m so flakey I don’t even do order.
We are emotionally bereft. Going out requires fortitude, resilience and pants. Sometimes, no-one in my family has any of those things. Even locating the correct water bottle can take twenty minutes and several rounds of the grief cycle. During this time anyone who has previously agreed to wear pants has gleefully de-pantsed. We consider how much emotional energy we have available to us at the time and weigh it up against how much will be expended in merely making it out the door. I could provide my children with a rich intellectual environment and take them out to that multi-cultural night-time event, alternatively I could put them to bed and watch Netflix.
We are tired. We are so goddamn tired that we can’t adequately explain what this much tired feels like. We make unintelligible noises instead, which we hope conveys our level of tired. Now, some people don’t accept tired as an excuse. These people don’t have children. If someone, sans children, have ever sat across from a person who has small children and said ‘Yeah, I’m tired too, but I went.’ Your parent-friend is showing masses of restraint if they manage to maintain a strained silence and a slightly raised eyebrow conveying irony at this point, because what they really want to do is grab you and say, slowly and through gritted teeth, eyeball to eyeball is that you have no right to speak on this topic at all. None, because you are uninitiated and have absolutely no conception or understanding of what tired feels like. You are like a turtle, you are a tiny turtle attempting to understand molecular theory with a turtle brain incapable of comprehending. You don’t understand and therefore you should be quiet. Very quiet. Do not talk to a parent about tired. Don’t.
Getting dressed is highly unpredictable. Getting kids dressed is the equivalent of patting an unknown dog – it might bite your face off, or it could be an easy and enjoyable experience. We were late for a play date because my daughter wanted to wear a skirt, but not any of the skirts she owns. A different skirt. Out there in the world somewhere, and apparently waiting, lonely and scared for her to rescue it and take it home.
This story of fashion love was accompanied by much sobbing and animated head-shaking as various wrong skirts were presented. We searched everywhere. Then she remembered, it wasn’t a skirt she wanted– it was shorts. The shorts she was wearing. Children think ‘Wheee I’m playing a fun game of not getting dressed!’ when you’re chasing them around the house waving a dinosaur shirt and slowly losing the will to live.
I remember my mother frantically checking who had or hadn’t gone to the toilet before we got into the car. She did this until I was approximately 16 and I’m the youngest. I thought it was unnecessary and weird. Then I had children. Children who seem to have the knack of holding in wee and poo until the moment their (admittedly adorable) bottoms hit the car seat. After a series of accidents that I still struggle to recall without scrubbing my hands like Lady Macbeth and screeching ‘Out, damned spot!’ I am now my mother. I hound them before we walk to the car ‘Do you need to do a wee? A poo? Is that wee face? Are you sure? IS THAT WEE FACE?’
I know I’m a flake. I look forward to a day of less flakiness, but until then I ask you to accept my flakiness, my love and my ambition to eventually attend an event I Facebooked as ‘going’. In return I will accept yours. I understand that reading a message and responding to it are two entirely different concepts. I acknowledge that a child who is sleeping is a rare and beautiful thing, and thus should not be disturbed. I get that a precious hour to yourself is more important than a park trip attempting to convince our children that it’s not actually a requirement of the sandpit to get sand in ALL the crevices in their bodies. You don’t have to explain why, because right now I know that maintaining friendships means accepting the reality of the flake situation. I will never judge your flakiness because I get it. Maybe, perhaps, we’ll go to a thing in a few years. Until then, lets maintain our friendship by posting meme’s on each other’s Facebook page. I love that stuff.