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.