Too creaky to hurry up

Posted 12/6/23

Sometimes I can still hear her. “Hurry up and clean your plate. Hurry up and get ready for school. Don’t be late for the dentist. Hurry up with your homework.”

Grandma Nana was …

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Too creaky to hurry up


Sometimes I can still hear her. “Hurry up and clean your plate. Hurry up and get ready for school. Don’t be late for the dentist. Hurry up with your homework.”

Grandma Nana was in constant motion and expected the rest of us to follow suit. She rushed through life on a mission to reach a self-imposed finish line, as if being pursued by a posse of judgmental peers. As an adult, I fueled this propensity and mouthed the hurry up mantra until the tub incident.

I had just put the baby down after his 6 p.m. feeding. My two eldest children were at the kitchen table writing their school supply lists for our summer’s end shopping trip. Six-year-old Christopher was in the tub.

“Let’s get you washed and shampooed,” I said to Chris, as I knelt and leaned into the sudsy array of plastic boats and rubber critters.

“Mom, I want to play for a while,” Chris pleaded. “Okay,” I replied, “but hurry up.” He froze. Wayward white tufts of Mr. Bubble floated from his face. He looked at me with questioning blue eyes. “Mom, how do you hurry up and play?”

After a few deep breaths and a very large lightbulb appearing over my head, I responded. “You know, I don’t think you can hurry up and play.” I pulled my arms out of the bath and sat cross-legged on the floor while Chris showed me how to rescue a sinking tug.

I decided right then that I would eradicate hurry up from my vocabulary. And it wasn’t easy. I seemed to always have a hand clamped over my mouth. The more I didn’t say it, the more I realized how much I had said it. And a few years later, on a wintery December evening, this new adaptation paid off.

We were getting ready to move. My husband had accepted a promotion. He had already made the out-of-state transfer to start his job and find a new house. Our current home had been on the market for three days when our real estate agent called.

“I know it’s dinnertime,” she said, “but I have a very anxious couple.” My mind raced. Oh no! Impossible! The kitchen’s a mess. I need time to clean up, but we do have to get this house sold. “Okay, bring them over,” I finally managed to mumble.

I got off the phone and automatically bellowed, “HURRY UP, get this kitchen presentable.”

But the kids were still eating, and we had been discussing the move to our new home. Battling the inner Nana, I sat and focused on my children, getting up only to let the realtor and impeccably dressed young business folks into the house.

Stepping over snow boots and puddles in the entryway, they went upstairs to the bedrooms, then down to the living room and dining room. By the time they got to the kitchen, the kids and I were on dessert (chocolate pudding, of course), and the sink was piled high with dishes. Our cat was preening on the counter while the dog lapped up crumbs from the floor.

The couple did a quick glance around, thanked us for our hospitality, and left with the agent.

“We’ll never see them again,” I groaned loudly.  “I should have hurried to tidy up, Nana would have a seizure if she knew, don’t think I’ll mention this to anyone.”

I was on a roll. If it hadn’t been for the ringing phone, I would have verbally beaten myself senseless. It was our real estate agent. The neat and tidy every-hair-in-place couple wanted the house.

“Your lively dinner sealed the deal,” the realtor said. “They have plans for a big family. You, the kids, the pets reinforced everything they want for themselves.”

Many years have passed since the day our house sold. I’ve been pretty good about not hurrying through life. Time is precious, appreciating the gift of each moment invaluable. Besides, these days my bod is much too creaky to hurry up.

Good aging spirits from this old girl!

Carole Marshall is a former columnist and feature writer for a national magazine. She’s had stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books and has written two novels and one fitness book. She is Mom, Grandma and Great-Grandma to some spectacular kiddos.