They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, so here goes: My name is Jill and I'm habitually late. I mean all the time. To everything.
I know it's a bad trait to have. I know it sets a bad example for my children. And I'm really trying to fix it. But see, this is a long-standing problem. When I was in college, I was always late for dates. My steady waited patiently--sometimes half an hour or more--for me to show up at our meeting place in the main building of the campus. I married the guy, and he's not nearly so patient now.
I don't even know how this happens. Usually when I have to be somewhere, I figure out how long it takes to get there, and what time I have to leave the house. And yet still I'm running late. Sometimes it's a matter of oversleeping, but not often. I get up at six, and I'm still usually late for work at ten. And no, it does not take me four hours to get ready. I have my devotions in the morning; I check my emails; I blog, if I haven't already done that the night before. I also get the boys started on their schooling for the day. I do a little housework in the morning.
I always try to be conscious of the time, but somewhere, somehow it gets away from me. I'll glance at the clock and realize that half an hour has passed without my realizing it.
I've tried different methods of curing myself. I tried setting all the clocks in the house five minutes ahead. That never worked. I just always calculated that I had five extra minutes to do what needed to be done before I left. Then I'd take six minutes. Or seven. So I tried setting clocks ahead fifteen minutes. That worked somewhat. For a while. I was still late, but I came closer to hitting the mark. But everyone in my house complained that they never really knew what time it was. So I set the clocks correctly. Of course, I probably should have told them I was doing that. They all started thinking they had fifteen extra minutes, and suddenly they were running fifteen minutes late.
I've tried hurrying. Rearranging my schedule, budgeting my time. None of that worked either. Something always came up at the last minute and I'd still end up being late.
I think I miscalculate how long everything is going to take me.
The problem got worse when we moved to Florida. It got worse because now I'm the pastor's wife. I CANNOT be late to church! I'm getting there in the last five minutes before the service starts, which is too late, but at least I'm there before it starts. But I can't seem to get to any other scheduled events on time. I'm always late for choir. I arrive at the last minute for the monthly ladies' Bible studies. And I always vow I will do better. But how?
I finally decided to add fifteen minutes to any schedule I have. If choir starts at 5:00, then I try to focus on it starting at 4:45. Then I focus on the fact that I have to leave the house by 4:30. So then I focus on getting ready at 4:15. Some of my friends tease me that I live my life in fifteen minute increments. But even here I see a flaw. I plan on leaving the house at 4:30 to be at the church by 4:45. It takes between fifteen and twenty minutes to get to church, so if choir really started at 4:45, I'd still be late! But if I plan on leaving at 4:25, I won't leave until 4:30 anyway. I know myself. And it seems silly to plan on leaving at 4:15. That's actually forty-five minutes before choir starts. And that also cuts further into an already short Sunday afternoon.
I just read the previous paragraph again, and it reads like a word problem in advanced math. I think I've finally hit on the crux of this whole issue. It involves numbers. It involves math. I'm an English and history person. I don't get the entire concept of math. My single piece of advice for my children when they struggle with math problems? X always equals 5. Maybe I'm physically incapable of being on time because I'm physically incapable of dealing with numbers. (Never mind that I actually work in an accounting office!) Perhaps I'm not really at fault for this whole on-time thing anyway! It's intellectually beyond my grasp.
But then again ... I guess it's back to the drawing board. My name is Jill and I'm habitually late. And I can't do math.