I wonder if I’ll even die on time.

makes_eat_timeIn college, I had a roommate who was ALWAYS late.  It made me crazy.  We would all be ready to leave for church or a night out and she’d still have curlers in her hair and just be beginning the process of looking for her things and grabbing something to eat.  She would pretend like she was in a hurry, but she was so slow at getting things done.  I had no patience with her.

Fast forward to the present.  I know God loves me, but I’m confident He laughs at me.  He turned me into her.  He gave me children, and I became my old roommate.  I think I have been on time to less than one dozen events since Grant was born six years ago.  I do not think He will cure me of this problem until I stop getting mad about it.  I noticed the other day that I always drive like I’m in a hurry because, well, I usually am.  At best, I’m about five minutes behind schedule, and at worst … um, let’s just say that sometimes I give up on even going where I was headed in the first place.  Not to make excuses, but — actually, yes, I will make excuses!  These are the reasons I am never on time:

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  1. Children who wear diapers ALWAYS poop on the way out the door.
  2. It does not matter how many times you have done laundry and sorted thousands and thousands of pieces of mismatched footwear, your children will NEVER be able to find socks when you say it’s time to go.
  3. They do not want a coat when they need one, and they want to bring extraneous toys and books along when they do not need them.  Battles about said preferences ensue.
  4. Even if you get all your children dressed and ready one hour before it’s time to leave because you are trying EXTRA hard to be on time, they will pee their pants or step in yogurt in their socks or take off their jacket and hide it in some place that will take you at least 25 minutes to find later because they “don’t remember” where they put it.
  5. Although I’m finally starting to get past this stage, small children have a mass amount of equipment that needs to accompany them on every outing.  So even when you get them ready to go, you have to check your “suitcase” and make sure you  have enough junk to prepare you for anything that may come your way, from an extreme diaper blowout to the possibility of being abducted by aliens and having to entertain your child for an extended period of time while you wait to appear before the intergalactic tribunal.  I have no idea where that just came from.
  6. Even if I am going somewhere without the children, the process of getting out the door feels like trying to escape from quicksand.

Every time I hear one of those talks about how important it is to arrive to church early so that you can prepare yourself to hear the messages, and not be disruptive to the congregation with your late entrance, I just get mad.  Do the people who give this counsel remember what it’s like to have small children?  I’m mad at myself, mostly, because I can’t seem to figure it out.  I do not know why I have not been able to overcome this struggle.  I have tried many experiments.  Charts on the door.  Restraining all children in car seats and THEN gathering equipment.  Getting ready earlier.  Organizing my front closet so that all coats and shoes and backpacks and bags are easy-access.  Yelling and barking orders.  Skipping breakfast.  I’m still late.  I’m doomed.  Wait a second.  I just realized, for the very first time in six years, that I have never once prayed about it.  I’m serious.  I’ve never had that thought before.  Duh. Is there really a chance that Heavenly Father would help me get out the door on time?  Then what would He laugh at?  Oh please, He’s got PLENTY to keep Himself entertained on the Stephanie Channel.

I can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, part of this whole struggle is not so that I learn to be on time, but so that I learn to be PATIENT.  Can I be rushed and still be kind to my children?  Can I purge myself of all the frustrated feelings and just get on with my life?  Can I be running late to church and not get mad about it, thereby ruining my chances of feeling the Spirit there anyway?  Ugh.  I have always loved the writings of Neal A. Maxwell and I found an awesome talk he gave entitled, “Patience.” Check out some of these gems from that talk:

“When we are impatient, we are neither reverential nor reflective because we are too self-centered. Whereas faith and patience are companions, so are selfishness and impatience.”  . . .

“Clearly, without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less. The pressures of now, time and time again, go against the grain of the gospel with its eternalism.”

I love his stuff because he takes simple principles and attributes and places them in an eternal perspective.  So I’m feeling a little renewed after writing this.  I might even humble myself enough to hear some of your suggestions for being on time.  I’ll try really hard not to roll my eyes when I read them.  But I’m definitely trying that prayer thing, too, because bless my roommate’s heart, living late all the time is no fun.

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22 thoughts on “I wonder if I’ll even die on time.

  1. This is tough. I’m sure things become MUCH harder once you have several people to get ready!

    My best friend is late 95% of the time. It’s sort of a running joke now. I really have no advice. People who set their clocks ahead usually just calculate that extra 15 minutes into their time, so it doesn’t really work.

  2. I hate being late!! I am always worried I will be inconveniencing others if I am late. As a result I am usually on time, even if I am not fully prepared for alien abductions or even blow-out diapers (I just pray it won’t happen). But a lot of the time getting out the door means I yell a lot and threaten my kids and am just mean. I guess what I am trying to say is maybe being late makes you a better mom overall.

  3. LOL, we got the same speech in Sacrament this week–and I walked in literally 3 mintues before the meeting ended…lolol…it made me wonder if he said it because I came in so late. (I know he didn’t–we have kind of a free pass with things like that with Dakin–there are SOME advantages to having a special needs kid!!)

    Good post. I love your blog.

  4. One of my favorite quotes:
    When we pray for patience, the Lord gives us opportunities to learn patience. Same goes with Humility etc,:
    What I loved about Elder Maxwell’s quote was “we will learn less, we will see less, we will feel less” hummm. I really needed that today.

  5. So, time to have that message from Elder Maxwell printed in the weekly bulletin, with the addition that “anyone feeling impatient with those members of the congregation who arrive late, are hereby called to repentance. Starting with the bishop.”

    See? Impatience is in the eye of the beholder!

    As for suggestions on how to get to church on time, I propose that you start right now aiming to be on time the first Sunday all your kids are out of the house at the same time. Mission, married, college – promise your ward that when that day comes, you’ll be to church so cotton-pickin’ early you’ll turn on the lights and start the refrigeration system so there’s a good layer of frost on the benches by the time the rest of those lazy latecomers arrive.

  6. I’m going to flat out lie and tell you it gets better when the kids are old enough to dress themselves and gather their own junk together. Yes, it gets better because then you are ready and they say they are ready and you go to leave and all of a sudden the oldest forgot her earrings, and the youngest her scriptures, and the middle her dollar she owes her friend and then you are mean and horrible because you don’t care about earrings and dollars and sometimes even scriptures and everyone hates you (including yourself because you are being mean) and it’s a pleasure to start your Sunday mornings out with such independent and determined children who were on time and then lose their heads and are now ten minutes late. (Okay, so can you tell this is an issue with me, too? Aaaaah!)

    I usually tell them we need to be ready to leave by 8:30, and if they are not, then they have ten minutes of sitting on the couch practicing getting in the mood for church for every one minute they make us late. But, we don’t actually have to leave until 8:45, so we are on time 90% of the time. (And they have “practicing time” still about 50% of the time because they somehow are only ready to walk out the door when I do half of the time, even with the fifteen minute buffer!) We do better on the Sundays that daddy gets to go to our ward instead of his other one.

    (This novel length comment is brought to you by Timex.)

  7. I keep thinking of the Hanks family, sitting reverently on their pew before I was even out of bed! I certainly don’t know the answer. What works best for us is a husband who is so very irritated by being late that i’ve learned to make the extra push. We’re never early, but we usually make it in the nick of time. Current;y my husband has to be at church 1/2 an hour early. He’s usually a little late for his meeting, but it makes us on time for Sacrament meeting. And I may make it to things on time, but I don’t leave the house prepared- often I don’t even remember an extra diaper. Renie’s hair might be uncombed, kids might be wearing mismatched clothes because I let them pick them out themselves, they might be in dress up clothes….I’ve just learned to let some things go. I certainly don’t bring entertainment items or snacks. And in a pinch I might just throw the shoes in the car and put them on when I’ve arrived at my destination. I guess I’ve learned that my kids don’t have to look perfect for every appointment and I’m sure they can find plenty of things on the floor in the car to entertain themselves in the event of alien abduction.

  8. 9:00 church bites when you have little kids. And the only reason I am on time for church is because of choir (I’m ALWAYS late for that). And the only reason I make it to choir is because I don’t care what Hayley’s hair looks like anymore or if Matt’s shirt has food stains on it.

    And I LOVE LOVE LOVE not carrying around a diaper bag anymore. FREEDOM!

  9. I’m loving this post, as well as the fabulous comments (hi, girls!). I spent 18 months in a country that is world renowned for it’s on-time-ness, so I absolutely writhe in agony if I’m late. I can hear voices in my head saying “It’s disrespectful! It’s lazy! It shows you don’t care!” But, somehow, we have become That Family. The one that is 15 minutes late, for everything. The one that people start saying “Oh, it’s at 6:00” when it’s really at 6:30, just so you’ll actually show up on time. I *hate* being That Family. I’ve noticed something, though. If my sweet husband isn’t around–I can get me and the kids out the door just great. If he’s home? Forget it. Hmmmm…

  10. When you figure this out, will you let me know?

    Our Stake President asked us to start being 10 minutes early for church. I nearly peed my own pants. We’ll, uh, see how that goes.

  11. I once prayed for patience…and for the last twelve years all I’ve gotten is more chances to test my patience! 🙂

    Being on time is a talent, and just like any talent: To some it comes easily, and the rest of us have to keep practicing. Maybe being on time with little ones just isn’t your talent, don’t beat yourself up. There is a big difference between someone who is trying to be on time (but ends up late), and someone who doesn’t care if they’re late.

    My only advice comes from my own mom. She has a paper sack filled with little trinkets, snacks, & coupons for extra privileges. On the sack, she has written 7:45 (the time my sister must be completely ready to go). If/when she is ready at 7:45, my sis gets to pick something out of the bag. It works pretty well for them. 🙂

  12. Okay, I love the comment about lying and telling you things get better as your kids get older… half of my kids are older, and all it does is present more challenges, but I will say, it does help having two extra pairs of arms to get the little ones ready and out the door. My real secret is that I set the clocks ahead ten minutes and didn’t tell anybody, so we haven’t been late to anything in over a year!

  13. My sister and brother have been late for everything since … forever.

    My sister was even late for her wedding. She was in the building, just trying to get ready and taking forever because everything had to be “perfect.” Her best friend’s mom came in the dressing room and put her nylons on her while other people were finishing her hair. The ceremony started about 30 minutes late.

    Mom always said she’d be late for her own funeral.

    Let me know when you figure out how not to get mad at yourself/your family when you’re late. I usually am on time to things, but get so frustrated with everyone else for being late. I’ve started showing up to family functions late on purpose. Rude, I know.

  14. I’m late all the time too. Or I should say WE are late all the time. I don’t think any kind of tricks will fix this. We have children. It’s just so tricky. No matter how prepared and patient and prayerful I am, they are still children. They don’t really get the meaning of timeliness until they mature into it (which could be around age 25, in many cases). I hope you’re shown some grace when you show up late. You’re working so hard to get there on time, and even if you don’t, you came because where you’re going matters to you.
    I’m going on and on like this because I can tell that you’re a person that REALLY tries to do right. And you are. 🙂

  15. #1 is the one that seems to get me every time. Except that when I actually go to change the diaper, it’s always #2.

    But we’re working on the on time thing. Sad as it is to say, I’d rather be five minutes late than early for something. It’s because I hate sitting around waiting for stuff to get going. Because I’m not patient. Guess I have something to think about.

  16. my favorite point you made was #6: leaving the house without kids is like escaping quicksand! hilarious.

    i have found that the more children i have, the later i become to things where the time is not ABSOLUTELY SET IN STONE. thus, although i haven’t ever been late to church (don’t hate me), i am always later than i said i’d be to playtime at the park, going to my in-laws for dinner (unless my husband is hungry), or meeting friends for any reason whatsoever. i am also perpetually 10 minutes late for any doctor’s appointment. this is mostly because i have become one of those people who tries to do one more thing before we leave (ie-transfer laundry from washer to dryer, brush my teeth, check my email, turn on the dishwasher, etc.)

    my secret for getting to church on time is this: i get up earlier than i should have to, no matter how tired i am. i have everyone’s clothes ironed and laid out and everyone bathed the night before. (this is not EVERY week, but usually.) and i plan on leaving at 8:30, even though it only takes us 9 minutes to get to church and the meetings start at 9:00. but i don’t let myself think about the 9:00 thing– 8:30 is our departure time.

    also, i as i hate carrying said suitcase, let alone assembling its contents, i keep a bag in the car (it stays there) with things like extra diapers, wet wipes, changes of clothes for pants-wetting-prone children, etc. that way i don’t have to think about it before i leave. if i use these things while i’m out, i try to remember to refill it when we get home instead of when we need to leave again.

    i am dreading having a new baby at the 9:00 hour–i have usually planned better than that. new nursing baby equals getting up at 5:30 to get it all done. and if my husband gets called to the bishopric, he’ll be taking a kid or two with him to early meetings!:)

  17. 9am church = sacrament 3 times last year
    11am church = sacrament 75% of the time
    2pm church? i’ll let you know next year, but I have high hopes!!

  18. Like many others, I try to get out of the house at 10:40 (11 o’clock church is awesome!), even though we live 4 houses down from the church. I think living so close makes me not stress so much about stuff I need, because I can just run home really fast.

    But for other things, we’re usually late. Not because the kids aren’t ready, but because I try to do too much! I say, “Oh, I have an hour, I can check my email real quick.” But we all know it’s never real quick! Lately, I’ve been getting completely ready before doing anything else, instead of the other way around. Before, I would do other stuff until the time I THOUGHT I needed to get ready – only to realize I needed a little more time. Now, I try to get ready first, then do extra stuff once I have my shoes on and keys in my hand!

    The ready-bag is another thing that works. I restock the church bag right after church for next week.

  19. HI ,
    I just popped over here via Mommy Mormon blogs. First, I think your blog is way cute…very real and down-to-earth.
    Now, my comment:
    As a Mom of 7 kids, I found a way to get to Church on time 90% of the time.
    We plan to leave our house 30 minutes earlier than the meeting starts. Our meetings start @ 9am. We leave the house @ 8:30am. When we get there, we sit in the 2nd row…I’m not kidding. It works because when they are sitting closer to the speaker, they can feel that person’s emotions as they speak. It holds their attention. And I always say, ” I don’t care if there’s a Circus going on behind us, keep your eyes forward.” We treat Church meetings like we treat going to the movies or a sporting event: we wanna get there early, get good seats, and be prepared for an experience. And truly, it works.
    Don’t be weary in well-doing!

  20. Lately I feel like I have been becoming *that* parent I never wanted to be. Yes, I, too, am really struggling to learn patience.

    “Clearly, without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less. The pressures of now, time and time again, go against the grain of the gospel with its eternalism.”

    I needed this today. I need to be more patient. And I need to pray more fervently and meaningfully so I can attain it … sooner rather than later. Or am I being impatient again?!

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