QUIT SOMETHING THURSDAY: On Punctuality

Wise author and speaker Bob Goff advises, "It's Thursday.  Quit something."  Quit something that no longer serves you, that is causing you harm, and that is holding you back.  This is the first in the new blog series, QUIT SOMETHING THURSDAY.  Here's hoping you can quit something today.

I was dropping off a friend of my son’s the other day, and, per usual, I was 10 minutes late.  When we arrived, my friend gracefully accepted my apology, and remarked with a chuckle that we must be running on “Pett time.”

The truth hurts.  Pett Time = LATE.  

If this was the first time that this happened, I could cut myself some slack and LET IT GO. But, sadly, it’s not.  I am serially 10 minutes late.   To everything.  Everyday.

How did this HAPPEN TO ME?  

I am a very punctual person. Stop laughing!  I am!

My dear friend Susan once said that my relationship with time was MAGICAL. . . that the amount that I could cram into a finite amount of time and STILL be on time was a thing to behold.  It was like my SUPERPOWER.  Furthermore, I feel a lot of satisfaction from being punctual.  Granted, I strive to be EXACTLY ON TIME, because I don’t like being super early.  (It makes me feel skeevy.  I don’t know why).   The punctual me of yesteryear always teased my mother-in-law for setting all of the clocks in her house 10 minutes fast in order to trick herself into being on time.  Is this what’s next for me?  Or will I just become a social pariah?

This punctuality predicament has been eating at me for years, so I began to work the problem while I drove home.  How did I get here, and how could I fix it?

THE BACKSTORY:

It all started in 2002 when one very young man entered my life.  His arrival coincided with being a few minutes late to events.  Not many, but a few.  These tiny minutes were so close to the arranged times that one might argue that it should not even be considered LATE.

In 2004, another phenomenon occurred, resulting in SLIGHT, but consistent, late arrivals to appointments and playdates.  When this pattern emerged, I began to account for it, and, soon, the matter was well under control, if not totally resolved.

I was back to being Punctual Polly, and all was right with my world.  

Years passed, and children grew.  I would occasionally fall off the timeliness wagon, but it was the aberration, not the norm.  Between 2005 and 2009, Pett Time was ON TIME, baby.  ON TIME.  (Except for church.  All my life, I could never be on time for church, which creates tension in my marriage.  SEND HELP).

Then, all hell broke loose.   

2009.  Child number three arrives, and, coupled with two other school-aged children, a job, and a husband that travels frequently, I started to backslide.  Five minutes here, seven minutes there. . . I mean, was it my fault that the blowout diaper situation consistently happens when I am running out the door?

2012.  Holy moly.  The last kid arrives, and with it, my punctuality becomes a pipe dream.  It is over for me.  10 minutes late is the norm, what with the car seats and the snacks and the diapers and the book bags and sports equipment and heaven help me where is my tea? and the lunches and How in the world am I out of gas AGAIN?

It is not ALWAYS my fault.  It just LOOKS like I’m the culprit, because I am the shoe finder/boy wrangler/bottom wiper/cajoler/slip signer/towel getter/money dispenser.  Just call me the last minute ATM.

Listen up, those of you given to judgment and sanctimony. I BUILD IN CUSHION! (most of the time).   I have SYSTEMS, and I understand what you need to do to get out of the house on time and get yourself to where you are going.  Being early is A DELIGHT.  It is a JOY.  Having a hot minute to think, or to pray, or to apply some delightful MAC Ruby Woo is time to be TREASURED.

But what would I know about THAT.

I know, I know, I hear you.  I hear you punctual people extolling me to build in MORE margin to my already margin-filled day, and but to that I say, you try.  

 See what I'm up against here?

See what I'm up against here?

The normalizing of lateness began, and it was insidious.  I felt my insides begin to change, as if my internal clock had recalibrated, and a little late-loving devil whispered in my ear, infecting my mind with lies such as the following:

It’s not that big of a deal. I know it happens every day, but really, relax.  It’s FINE. 
This time, there will be no issues getting out of the door.  HA!!  PSYCH!  You’ll be late again, but who cares, anyway?
Traffic, again!  Ugh!  It’s not YOU, sweetheart, it’s the TRAFFIC. 
These KIDS!  Do they expect you to keep track of everything?  They have a shoe bin for a reason!  And you TOLD THEM TO USE THE BATHROOM 20 MINUTES AGO.
I know, I know, you built in cushion.  But cushion is never enough, is it?  Just GIVE INTO THE NEW REALITY.  Lateness is FINE.  People understand. 
Whatever, dude, no big deal.  You have bigger fish to fry.  

RIP Punctual Polly.  RIP.  You have been beaten into your grave by four boys and their disparate needs and missing shoes.  You will be missed.  I hear the funeral was lovely.  

*Hangs head*

Something has to be done.  

I can blame the kids all I want, and I certainly DO and certainly WILL, but, like all those struggling,

YOU HAVE TO WANT TO CHANGE. 

YOU, AND ONLY YOU,  HAVE TO DO THE WORK.  

I square my shoulders, lift my chin, and dig really deep.  

Listen up, you lying little LATE-LOVING devil camping out on my shoulder.  Time to MOVE ALONG.  I CARE.  MY KIDS CARE.  The 84 million tardies that my boys have accumulated this year CARE.  My husband cares.  Our friends CARE.  Being on time is better!  It is more fun, more relaxing, DEFINITELY more courteous, pleasant, kinder, gentler.  Not to mention, I hear being punctual makes your skin youthful and unlined and miraculously helps you lose weight.

It’s time for a resurrection.  PUNCTUAL POLLY is BACK from the grave, baby!  With her, comes the pleasure of being punctual.  Minutes to spare!  Breathing!  A leisurely pace! What kind of heaven would that be?

THE PROCLAMATION:  

I hereby declare that to the best of MY ability, I will embrace punctuality, REAL punctuality, not PETT TIME, thereby improving the overall quality of all of our lives.  I will do my part by building in the aforementioned CUSHION.  

Beyond that, I make no promises. These children are on their own.

***

Postscript:  I may or may not have been 10 minutes late to meet a friend for an exercise class because I was engrossed in writing an essay on punctuality.  Oh, the irony!  

P.P.S.  I may or may not have been an hour and a half late to my nephew’s out of state birthday party due to unanticipated holiday traffic.  LEAVE ME ALONE.  Punctuality requires PRACTICE.