Friday, April 20, 2007


Late FlightsI’m a pretty punctual person. I get the kids to school on time, I show up at church ten minutes before the service starts, I have dinner on the table when Andrew shows up at 6:00pm. I do my washing on Mondays and Fridays, plan my menu on Wednesdays so I can shop on Thursdays and clean the house on Fridays. I’m like clockwork.

But lately I’ve been behind. Five minutes here, ten or fifteen there, as I rush from activity to activity, putting extra miles on the car and never quite ready for the next item on my list. I'm showing up late to nearly everything, forgetting appointments, rushing around till I'm ready to toss my Palm out the window.

It starts early when my alarm goes off at 6:40 (or doesn’t go off at all) and my day picks up from there. My planner is starting to resemble a flight information board at an airport with its tightly spaced lists of arrivals and departures only my board is littered with "flight canceled" and "flight delayed" notices.

Once a flight gets delayed it throws the whole schedule off and lately I’ve been . . . well, late. Tardy to school, behind in my housework, laundry not folded, car always on empty, eating on the run, pulling in to the parking lot ten minutes late and wondering how many more minutes I’m going to lose on the next leg.

I’d always thought that being on time was about caring. If you cared enough about something you’d be there on time. If this is true what does this say about me now? What's wrong with me? It's like I never went onto daylight savings or something. Are you a punctual person or do you get there when you get there?

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Anonymous said...

I have always said, I'd rather be an hour early than a minute late..Then came the three year old.

Heather said...

I have weeks like this. Sometimes I get lucky and it only happens for a day, but usually a delay one day spills over into the next.
I still haven't found a quick fix for this... or a slow one. I usually attribute it to a change in schedule that disrupts the flow- a holiday, injury/illness, etc. Those types of things always bring life to a screeching halt.

Meeta said...

Oh Michelle reading your post just made me feel so much better.
I am currently going through the same thing. I am very organized and like you so well put it "like clockwork". But lately I too am in constant stress. And it is really bringing me down. Sometimes almost to tears.
As I write this I have a basket full of laundry that needs to be folded. I need to pick up my son in a few minutes and then we have a doc appointment .... I wish I could just reach out and give you a hug. I have not found a sure way of getting hold of the situation but knowing I am not in the boat alone makes me feel better!

Author Mom with Dogs said...

I, too, used to believe being on time meant you cared. Now I believe that some days' to-do lists are just not humanly possible. I've cut way back on activites -- it's not worth it to me to feel stressed like that.

Ron Pereira said...

Michelle, three kids have slowed me and my wife down a bit... I feel your pain. An interesting trick you may want to try is "5 why's". The guys at Toyota use this all the time to figure out the root cause of an issue. So the next time you are late reflect on it and ask why 5 times. A crazy 5 why example is why are space shuttle rockets the width they are? If you ask why 5 times you come back to the fact that the wheels on Roman chariots were this width... this then set off a chain reaction of events that bring us to current day. It is neat stuff. Give it a try!

Overwhelmed! said...

You know, I used to be a puntcual person, but now I find myself occassionally late. Sometimes it's because I'm getting a toddler out the door with me, sometimes it's just me being slow, and sometimes it's because I just have too much on my plate.

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one with this problem.

The Late Bloomer said...

It really varies for me. Although in the past I have had a reputation for always being late when meeting friends, of all things, I tend to be on-time to work and other such required things, as I know it is essential. But then when it comes to the weekend and time after work, I always figure that those who know me best understand if I can't get somewhere EXACTLY on time. And I hate the idea of having to run on the weekends, when it's a time you're meant to relax.

Then again, I can see your point of showing that you care, and I would hate for my friends or family to think I don't care! I just think life is too short to get caught up in a few minutes late here or there. Again, when the time is essential -- like a work or medical appointment -- I can totally understand. But family/friend gatherings? I figure you get there when you can... Life is just too unpredictable!

As for chores/cleaning house, etc., UGH, don't even get me started. I definitely don't have a schedule in that department; I find myself worrying about not keeping the apartment clean enough ALL the time. I think I obsess about it more than I actually do it! But that's just me.

snarflemarfle said...

I used to be early everywhere (by 15 to 30 minutes!)! I know it comes from my high school marching band days when band started at 7:30 am and that meant being in our spot ready for warm you better get to school 30 minutes early to get the horn together and chat before band.

Now that I've had a little one, we're right on time for things. I hate that! At least we're not late, though. Because I'm not a fan of those habitually late people...I actually quit a job because I couldn't stand working with a constantly late coworker.

I bet you'll get things back to normal soon. Since you know how to plan your time and being very organized is what you prefer, you'll get back to your regular schedule!

nutmeg said...

My plane is always flying in a bloody blizzard!

The Family CEO said...

I am almost chronically 5-10 minutes late. Never more than that but never on time or early either.

I did like reading about your schedule with regard to laundry, meal planning, etc. I need to implement one of those instead of just doing things when I feel like it.

Lisa Milton said...

I am amazed by your steady schedule to begin with. All hail Scribbit. (I am shamefully less organized.)

Like you, I am punctual. (I think you are just in a rough patch.) It means we do care/respect others. I've been doing some time at the doctor's office lately and it drives me crazy when it starts running behind and I start worrying about picking up my kids and getting to soccer or getting dinner made. I keep reminding myself that these things happen - despite our best efforts.

I think you are an amazing mom of four. (Four!) You'll find your rhythm again.

G's Cottage said...

Okay, warning this is my 180 dgree out point of view.
Maybe you care too much. I was once a young mother with a gaggle of chicks at home and a husband whose work regularly took him out of town (Uncle Sam does that a lot). I was determined that my kids get the chance to experience things that they were sincerely interested in and that I was going to enjoy their journey. That meant setting priorities and making unpopular choices in order for the logistics to fall together. I had to give up never being late but I also had to admit my limitations as one person. It also became a platform for dialoging with the children about how do we make the schedules and deadlines work. Everyone is more cooperative to personal adjustments if they feel their input is valued and kids are no exception. This is not just your issue to solve if some of these activities are theirs and it makes sense that they should be allowed into the grown up world to become part of the solution. In other posts your kids sound heads and shoulders above their peers and while it might take them a while to get their brains wrapped around the process they might relish the challenge. But never being late ever is probably not a reality for the duration of their childhood; but picking what gets squished is a reasonable goal.
So give yourself a break for being human and involved in your kids lives.

PortraitofPeter said...

In my working environment it is essential to be on-time, although I usually arrive early.

In a social capacity = I am often late and this has become expected!!

I must admit the change of time does have problems for me too, and I found setting the alarm even earlier - in this uncertain period.

A wonderful post.

Ni Yachen said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. The fact you are worrying about means you are the kinds of person who cares.

Sometimes showing up on time is about caring (like at a wedding). Other times sometimes showing up late means you have your priorities in the right order. At work we are allowed to show up late to an in-house meeting if we are dealing with a client. If you have to be on time for the sake of being on time, then you’ve made the clock the god who controls your life.

JAM said...

One of the most profound things I learned as an adult is that just as seasons change and weather ebbs and flows, my moods and abilities ebb and flow too.

With your tight schedule, and the self imposed determination to meet your expectations, there's no room for this natural ebb and flow.

Yeah, we all understand this innately, but I go through periods of weeks where something like getting up and going through the same routine as always to prepare for and leave for work takes 20 minutes longer. What's up with that? But it just happens. Usually it's in those periods when I'm even quieter and more introspective than usual, and I guess I do stuff slower because my brain is really somewhere else.

I can't really explain it better than that, but I'd bet big money nothing's really "wrong" but that even olympic runners aren't at their peak year 'round. Kinda like that. Other parts of the year they aren't in as good of shape and their training takes that into account.

You're quite human. Hang in there.

Shalee said...

I prefer to be early or punctual. If I'm running late, I'll call because I want someone to show the same courtesy to me. However, it does lead to the "Hurry UP!" on my side of the fence when my kids are keeping me back... In other words, I could do with showing some courtesy to them as well.

J at said...

I'm an early, punctual person...though lately, I have found myself not caring as much as I used to. Wisdom? Slackerness? I'm not sure. ;)

I tagged you for a restaurant meme, if you're interested.

Kailani said...

I grew up with a father who believed that if you're on time, you're late. So I'm always early for things.

An Island Life

An Ordinary Mom said...

There are people who are late because life has a habit of interrupting the best laid plans of mice and men/women and then there are people who are late because they don't give a flying frisbee at all :) !! I have much more tolerance for the first category and I think I know where you fit in.

my4kids said...

Unfortunatly I am not a very punctiual person. It's in my nature I supposed. I've always been this way though it got worse with kids.
I think some of it has to do with my ADD. I just don't get organized.

Shelley said...

I hate being late also. I agree about how it makes it seem like you don't care. I guess because I used to wonder that when my parents would be late to pick me up.

I have always heard that being late is a passive aggressive behavior, and so that makes it bother me all the more when I'm late. I don't know why, but I occasionally get in these ruts too.

And it seems kind of hard to pull out of...there's always three more things you need to do before you leave the house. The worst thing about it for me though, is the always feeling rushed, and that can make me grumpy with my loved ones.

I know I'm not alone, and I know there's hope...for all of us. :)

mcewen said...

I am the most punctual person on the planet, it's always just a question of how 'early' I will be. With the help of my little side kicks I occasionally very early [once a year] the rest of the time, I'm there by the skin of my teeth.

Lisa said...

Wow, woman. You know how to cram alot of work into one day. I'm always a few minutes late for things and I only have ONE child. I don't know how you do it all with four.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you're just going through a phase-- sowing your wild oats of devil-may-careness. One day you'l wake up (on time) and be back to your old super organized, punctual self. It could happen.

girlymama said...

I get highly annoyed when people are late. (Including at myself when I'm running behind.)

I get the same way - lately it seems like I can never get anywhere on time. I'm not super-dooper late, but I seem to be chronically 5-10 minutes late for everything. I'm just waiting to get a speeding ticket as I am rushing off somewhere - late again!
For me, its all about planning. When I'm not planning well, therefore running back into the house to get the forgotten backpack/blankey/paper.

You'll get back into your groove soon! Daylight savings always throws me off for a month at least ;-)

chelle said...

I get huge anxiety if I am late. I agree with your statement that showing up on time is about caring. Now having a toddler and a newborn has challenged that, but I am determined to perfect it ... Or go batty!

Heffalump said...

Sometimes schedules need to be adjusted. I can't be accused of being perpetually on time. I used to be on time, but marriage and children have changed that in many ways.
I think that there are always times when we have to reevaluate things, and see what is working for us and what is not. Maybe there is something in your routine or schedule that needs to be tweaked. Or maybe its just a phase that will pass. Either way, there is nothing wrong with you personally. We all have times where we fall short of our own expectations of ourselves.

Mayberry said...

Between the unexpected delays that kids inevitably cause (hello, poopy diaper just when we are walking out the door) and the fact that I am constantly trying to do just a little bit more than I really have time for... yep, always a little bit late.

Cathy said...

I have recently come to the conclusion that I must start getting up around 6 (not 7) if I want to get my punctuality back.

I just worked out at 9:30 tonight (WAY too late for me) and took 20 minutes to put a project away that's been sitting on my lr chairs all week (NOT me!)

Anonymous said...

With 7 kids, and a husband who wants things done right now, being a pastor, bible teacher, missionary, and homeschooling Mum, we are always of the verge of 'urgent' or in a 'major crisis'.

Our motto: Be Flexible and Go with the Flow!

Before my marriage, I was taught to never be late but always be early. I never liked to be rushed and still don't.

How I cope...make my routine moveable. I have my set routine, will rolls with the waves. If an event comes up that threatens to upset the applecart, I move the routine up. That's why I go by routine not schedule.



Anonymous said...

hi michelle: have you looked at all that you think you "should be" doing? is there anything that you really can let go of? or that you can do less of and it would still be okay?

also, have you thought about treating yourself to a bubblebath or a massage? it might be just what you need to get your groove back if you want it back :)

i try to be early for most everything. it is more peaceful for me to drive when i know i don't have to rush "to make up" time. my alarm is set for 4:30am each day.

peace be with you :)

Anonymous said...

Listen to your mind, your rhythm. When you feel like you're "slacking" it's because you need to slow down and re-energize for when you become "on-time" again. See it as a positive not a negative and don't be so hard on yourself :)

Anonymous said...

Check the following:

Your homone levels (see doctor for test)
How much caffeine you're ingesting

How much exercise (arobic) you get every day

How much deep sleep are you getting every night

I'm guessing one of these or several of these are off.

Being on time is wonderful. Living on a schedule gets old. Maybe it's time to re-evaluate your schedule?

Melissa R. Garrett said...

My husband and I are complete opposites on this ~ while I have to be on time (I just HAVE to, or I get super anxious) my husband is okay with making it "just on time" or a few minutes late. Call me anal, but I have to have my whole day planned out, or I can barely function. A few posts back, I listed my daily schedule. My husband thinks I am TOTALLY weird for having my life so planned, but I just have to. In my defense, the weekends and vacations are very relaxed.

We all have those days when we are running behind in everything we do. And, being the extrememly productive person I imagine you to be, I have no doubt you will catch up. :-)

Jen said...

I think we're living parallel lives. I've always been very punctual. "Early is on time, on time is late." I could blame any number of things; being sick for the last 2 1/2 weeks, having a son who thinks getting dressed in the morning is simply a way to watch his mom's blood pressure rise, the fact I start each and every day with a 32 item to do list and 16 hours in which to do it all. I feel your pain, I'm right there with you. I have no solution, just the thought that in 7 weeks A is out of school for the summer and I'm going to have to work on my deep breathing for that. ; )

Jeana said...

I can remember a span of eight years or so when I was carrying around little people everywhere I went and it seemed like I was always late, and the reason was always the same: Someone had to poop.

wayabetty said...

My Dad is a very punctual person, so I do take it after him. But ever since I've been knocked up, it's been very hard to keep up.

I actually wished today that I can blink my eyes like the Genie, or wriggle my nose like the "Bewitched" lady and have all my chores done.