From the very first day of soccer, it seemed as though the phrase, “Early is on-time, on-time is late,” was drilled into my head. And, I’m not just talking in a way that emphasized the importance of punctuality, I mean in a way that if I was to be late, it would be tragic. Let’s just say, I was too scared to ever find out what would happen if I did violate the rule.
This expression gave me such angst that it basically controlled my entire childhood. To this day, I still have nightmares involving the bell ringing in school, and me sprinting down the hall so I wouldn’t be ‘tardy.’ The mere thought of my dad running late at work on a day he had to drive me to soccer practice was far too overwhelming. I remember breaking out in a sweat and feeling the tight knot in my stomach as I sat and stared at the clock as each minute passed. I would call him frantically, pleading that he hurry so I wouldn’t be late. And, I’m not talking the real ‘late.’ I’m talking the ‘late’ of not being there unnecessarily early.
And, while I am able to acknowledge the many benefits and importance of punctuality, being compulsive about promptness truly affected me. They say that it is being late that makes you anxious and stressed. I placed so much pressure on myself to be everywhere so damn early—school, practices, games, appointments, and meetings—that I became crazed by it.
It wasn’t until I quit my job to stay-at-home with my first child that I realized how liberating it felt to be late! I felt such a sense of freedom, and declared a new mentality. I was finally on my own time and own schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I did my best to be to punctual, but I no longer killed myself over it. I understand that being late can come off as rude and disrespectful, but please understand that my act of being late is not that—it is purely because I spent far too much of my life excessively worrying about being late.
So, if I am late to lunch, a meeting, or even just a play date with the kids, please forgive me. I finally feel free-spirited, and it feels so damn good!!