My mother tells me I was born 3 weeks late. Who knows if that’s true because back in the stone ages, they weren’t entirely accurate at predicting a baby’s birthdate. I arrived on November 30th at 7:15am. I’m not sure that even then I enjoyed getting up that early.
I’d love to say it’s genetics that makes me consistently late to everything. However, I haven’t yet found any scientific evidence to support that. I guess it comes down to the old nature vs. nurture debate.
I grew up in a late household. My mother has never been known for her punctuality. When I was younger, I always thought that perhaps she was slow. Just generally slow-moving. Then I thought maybe a bit disorganized. I mean, it’s not exactly easy to get out of the house when taking care of 4 kids, 3 dogs, and God knows how many cats.
As a child, my mother drove us to school and we were always late. We were late to church. We were late to events. My mother’s circle knew this about her. She served time as a Den Leader for the Cub Scouts. It was one year that they wised up and told her the annual Blue and Gold dinner started at 7:00pm. In her true fashion, she arrived at 7:30pm, right on time for the actual event. They had fudged the start time and as a result, she was finally on time.
My mother didn’t teach me to be late. But somehow I evolved into the same creature as my mother. By the time I reached high school and could drive myself, I still arrived late every day to school. I was late so many times that my first period teacher, Ms. Lucas, actually pulled me aside and told me that I should think about quitting school since it was obvious I didn’t want to be there. Way to go, Ms. Lucas. Stick to teaching art, please.
Note: I was a straight A student so I chose not to follow her sound advice.
The same patterns followed me through college and into the working world. Thank God, I worked jobs that had room for flexibility. If I had to punch a clock, I wouldn’t have lasted long. Then I started to notice that even though I arrived late, I always seemed to work late. I ate dinner too late. I stayed up too late. And I slept in too late.
I’ve missed movies, airplanes, appointments, job interviews, dinner reservations all because I’ve been too late. I was late to my own wedding. And I’m quite sure that if it’s possible, I will, in fact, be late to my own funeral.
So obviously being self-aware isn’t enough. I need to delve into why I have this problem. And I’ve thought long and hard to figure it out.
I never properly estimate the amount of time I need to do something. I tell my friends I’ll see them in an hour. They know it will be longer. I tell my husband I’m going shopping and will be back in 2 hours. Never happens.
If it takes 15 minutes to drive somewhere, I allow exactly 15 minutes. So if anything goes wrong, whether on the road or before I even leave the house, I have no room for error and I’m late.
If I know I have to be somewhere in 2 hours and I have to eat, write, and shower, I always choose the writing first. Mistake. Writing doesn’t really have a defined amount of time. You can say, “I’m going to write for 45 minutes” but the reality is, if you are in the zone, you need to keep writing. It’s not a time-based science. It doesn’t have a finite end. Eating does. Getting ready does. And those are things that have to be done before leaving the house. Writing is optional. Yet I still mess it all up.
It comes down to choices. I like to do the things I like to do. I like to sleep so I stay in bed too long. I like to write so I spend way too much time on the computer. And I don’t exactly relish going to the doctor so I’m not entirely motivated to stop doing something I like for something I don’t like.
I wonder if I’m destined to be this way forever. I pride myself on reliability but like my mother, I’m not known for my punctuality. I hope not to pass on this non-genetic flaw to my son. Maybe if I work on it, I can break the cycle.
He was, after all, born 3 days early.
I am the opposite, and arrive early to everything. I can't stand being late as being late means attention is focused on you, the late one. You did learn this behavior from your mom, as my husband got it from his mom (and he is adopted!) His family runs late for everything, which drives my punctual persona bonkers. He's getting better and now that I have a child I am getting better about knowing it is okay to be a bit late!
Ha “If it takes 15 minutes to drive somewhere, I allow exactly 15 minutes” made me giggle, my mom is a lot like you and she always thinks everything is 15 minutes away. Well, we've been in Raleigh for 35ish years and it used to be true that you could get anywhere in 15 mins…I had to have a heart to heart with her about that 🙂 Anyway, genetics maybe? I'm a Gemini so I have a little of both – hee.
My hubs is chronically late while I am chronically punctual. This has caused many heated arguments. We even discussed it several times in marriage counseling. The counselors take on it was this; he is late because he feels it gives him the control. He is in the drivers seat. Everyone waits for him so he must be really important. It boils down to a self-esteem issue.
In his defense, he was raised in household of “lateness”. No one in his family is ever aware of what time it is, always underestimates the time it takes to do anything, and is never apologetic about it. They just shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh well – no big deal”.
To the other half of the world that is actually on time, it is a BIG DEAL. We see the lateness as a sign that you don't respect us or the value of our time. Yes, I actually do have other things to do besides wait for you.
So . . . the debate continues. And most likely the marriage counseling, too.
I get anxiety if I run late, even if it's a social event. My Mom is always late and I think I took a completely opposite stance on punctuality.
I'm like Melissa- early to everything! Which is funny because my dad is perpetually late. Being half latina I can say it's the latin in him!
Since I've had kids though I've let myself slide. A lot.
I am the same way. I don't estimate time as well as I'd like to think either. I've finally become more conscious of this and am doing better.
Oh, Melisa. We are going to have problems if we ever meet in real life. Although I was 4 minutes early to the doctor yesterday and I almost sat in the car to wait it out. It felt wrong!
Must be something about the name Melissa. I bet you're a morning person too. Ugh. And I didn't know you were half-latina. And I wouldn't have known that unless I was so late all the time and wrote this 😉
That's funny because I still think I have the 15 minute rule for everything. Or the 30 minute rule. Whatever it is, I'm usually off by about 15 minutes.
Wow, Andrea. What a situation! Yes, I think many people feel that late people don't value or respect their time. And as a late person, I feel like I'm always apologizing. I HATE being late but I know sometimes I play it off casually because everyone harasses me about it. Let me know if counseling finds a solution…
Funny how many of my friends are early or on-time people. I guess it really is just me 🙂
OH. FINALLY! Another late person! Maybe we should start a club called Latecomers-Anonymous.
Fadra. You're such a breath of fresh air. I'm late for everything as well. I love to read, write and sleep. Nothing like sleep!
I was meant to live the life of leisure. Somehow, I think I was switched at birth. Maybe someday I'll find my real parents 😉
I also have this problem. It developed more so when I lived with Sarah, my always late friend. I think I was around late-ness so much, it came to be normal, “okay” and not that big of a deal. I sometimes have tried to think about my reasoning for being late all the time. I thought, “Am I lazy?” “Am I unmotivated?” (which is sort of depressing to think) But, as you have now pointed out, the simple fact is, I will not rush to do something I’m not thrilled about doing….but don’t take offense if I’m meeting you or anyone else for lunch. I do, indeed, want to meet you for lunch. All this being said, I was never extremely late to work, but, thank god, I had a boss like you. That was late.
Oh, sounds so familiar! Although I’m not late to everything, I am late much of the time! Except for church, we almost always make it there 5-10 min. early. I think because I really don’t want to be late there, for one because then there really is alot of attention on you when you’re walking to your pew with 3 kids while everyone else is already sitting down and singing, and church service is very important to us.
But I find myself doing exactly what you do alot too. I go to bed too late and wake up too late. I keep telling myself, I need to be up by 7am in order to work on my home business while the kids are still sleeping and especially when home schooling starts. Still hasn’t happened this past month I’ve been saying it! Very frustrating! It’s a state of mind that needs to be changed! And I know it can be done (-:
You’re not alone….(-;