Sometimes, I feel a little alone in my understanding of the concept of time. Sometimes, I am alone, literally…the first at the pub, the park, the restaurant, for the meeting, standing outside Costa Coffee, sitting in the car in the car park.
I think I’ve always been this way, on time, that is. It certainly isn’t something I choose to do – it’s just that I cannot (no matter how hard I try) be late.
Growing up, as a teenager in particular, I was definitely a black sheep in the area of being on time. My best friend was my nemesis of time management, and we still laugh now about how I would walk to her house every morning before school, turn on her light, wake her up and tell her to get out of bed.
We were, after all, learning to be sociable in the days before mobile phones (OLD) where ‘I’ll ring you as I’m leaving’ wasn’t an option. Being at the prearranged meeting place at a set time was pretty imperative to have any kind of friends and social standing. In all honesty, I think it’s just part of my make up.
During my education and early career days, it certainly paid dividends, and landed me some amazing revision timetables, great grades, a reputation for being reliable and some networking brownie points.
But, it also wasted a whole load of hours of my life, mostly in my outside school / work circles; waiting for other people to wake up, to be ready, who were absolutely, most definitely not ‘on their way’. If we arranged to meet half way, I’d be knocking on your door before you’d left the house. If we arranged to meet at the restaurant, I’d be there, bagging the table. If we were all being picked up, I’d always be a safe bet to be collected first. It hasn’t helped that a good handful of my best friends are all pretty shocking at being on time, and even though I know this, I just cannot resist the need to be there on cue.
I thought becoming a mum would fix this little imperfection of mine; so I was told on good authority anyway, that all Mums are late. Hopping along like white rabbits, trailed by overflowing nappy changing bags, push chairs, half dressed children and general disorganised chaos. I actually quite liked the idea of other people waiting for me for a change. But it wasn’t to be.
Being late? Not this Mummy.
Somehow, it’s made my unfortunate condition, immaculate punctuality, a whole lot worse. Now, I just have to be so much more organised, nine times out of ten, it makes me earlier still.
I guess I just don’t do approximation. To me, ‘in the morning’ is before 12.00. Not everyone seems to agree. Meeting at 1.30 means half past one. I will therefore be ready to leave the house by 1.00, and be out the door by 1.15. I know – what an arsehole. Believe me, I know it, especially when everyone else rocks up at 2.15 because ‘the baby was napping’ or ‘we were having lunch’ whilst my baby is nodding off in her car seat, and TG had her lunch at 11.45, so we’d definitely be ready to go, and has the remainder of it in her pocket.
We have been regulars at a singing group since TG was a little tiny one, and due to the fact I was told ‘it gets really busy’ I always made sure I was there 10 minutes before it started. I got to know the receptionist pretty well, and it became a bit of a joke how I was always so early – especially on the days the group was deserted. I really, really tried to start going later, but it seemed every clock in my house was set at a different time, and we’d still always manage to be ridiculously awkwardly early and I’d cringe as I signed in my arrival time.
I have been on many a play date where I have been pretty much ready to leave by the time my co-mums have arrived, or I have honestly believed I have been in the wrong place. Only to be met by a frantic looking Mum with a huge smile on her face and barely an apology, just a ‘knowing’ mumble about how hard it is to get out of the house.
But I’m not cross. I’m jealous.
I wish I could let go a little. Go with the flow. See where the wind blows us. Be there ‘when we are ready’, not at the rough time we agreed. Put us first.
I’ve found some tactics to manage my condition; meeting at your house is a good one. Also, I’ll pick you up. Or even forming an alliance with someone most likely to show up, so we can get on with the good stuff while everyone else misses out. These aren’t bullet proof though, and I have been known to be told to drive round the block a few times until someone gets out the shower (with the kids in the back…honestly).
I think maybe I worry too much about letting other people down – the thought of someone else stood waiting for me mortifies me. Why, I don’t know, as quite frankly it has NEVER happened. I’m not sure what I think the consequence of this would be? Friendships burning in hell? My children starving to death at the knock on effect of not being home in time for dinner? Missing all the fun? It’s all quite unlikely. In 100% honesty, I guess being late stresses me out way more than getting ready. Mr G would probably disagree, poor sod has been rushed out the door to many a family gathering with despaired cries of ‘it doesn’t matter if we are late’ and ‘no one else will be there yet’ falling on my deaf ears.
So, there you have it. I’m a bit of a freak in the world of latecomer Mummas. But maybe this was one element of my very being that motherhood wouldn’t change.
Just to finish…I did recently tell some of the mum gang I’d meet them at a summer park date when we’d done some bits we needed to do first. Are you proud of me? Don’t be…I decided in the end it wasn’t worth going as everyone else would probably be on their way home. Maybe next time…
Are you like me? Or the total opposite?! I’d love to hear how you manage your time with kids in tow. Leave me a comment to share your thoughts x