I used to be a punctual person—an ‘on time person’—and frankly, among the mom-set, I still am. This means that I arrive within five minutes of when I was supposed to, most of the time. I am still on time for nearly everything and when I’m not, I still get that knot in the pit of my stomach. Once you lose the knot, you’re done. You’ve lost the will to be punctual.
My husband is an early person—the kind who makes you go to the airport three hours in advance (of a local flight) and starts telling you to put your shoes on for a twelve-o’clock appointment at nine (the night before). As I understand it, the early people overestimate how long everything is going to take, late people are chronic under-estimators, and my people just know how long things take. I know that it takes me exactly seven minutes to walk to my daughter’s preschool and nine to walk to my older kids’ elementary school. I know how long it takes me to shower (remarkably less time than I ever thought possible), to eat, to dress, to work-out, and I plan backwards. This system has always worked for me. More or less. Because once you have kids, you have to add buffers for tantrums and bathroom breaks and lost shoes and lost pants and the refusal to wear shoes and the refusal to wear pants. And sometimes these things take longer than the buffers I have provided for in my calculation. Which is why, sometimes, I can be up to five minutes late.
I have discerned that everyone goes down a level after kids. On-time people become occasionally late people. Occasionally late people become chronically late people and chronically late people become social outcasts unless they have excellent personalities to compensate (you know who you are). The only people who end up arriving earlier than ever are the early people, who tend to go the other way (much to the dismay of the long-suffering spouse of the early person). The early person begins to see obstacles where none exist and overestimates the small ones (I’m convinced I saw the attendant snicker the last time we checked in to a flight to Florida three hours in advance).
The biggest issue obviously occurs when two late people marry and procreate, as there is no-one to keep them in check. No one to remind them that they need a bigger buffer (and a time-keeping device of some sort). We have friends who have arrived closer to dinner when we had lunch plans on more than one occasion (and not only were they unapologetic, they didn’t seem to notice). Dinner plans with them and all of our kids turned into a rave (I don’t get out much, but overtired, hungry children plus darkness = rave, right?). We no longer make any specific meal-related plans with them, now choosing to meet them in parks for picnics (read: we bring our own food and eat it before they arrive). They are the excellent personality type I was referring to above. Less charming people would have been dumped after the second missed lunch.
In general, I think that people who plan to have kids can easily marry up or down one level (early people with on-time people; on time-people with occasionally-late people) but the chronically late person (hereinafter referred to as the CLP) would be a terrible influence on an occasionally late person (who, without intervention, will naturally become a CLP upon the birth of their first child). As such, my recommendation—though a bit radical and controversial in some circles—is that the CLP marries a full three levels up. That’s right. I am suggesting a CLP/early-person pairing. Obviously this creates a great imbalance, and as such, the CLP needs to be at least 70 percent hotter than the early person (HF70%) in order for the early person to want to stay with them (EP + (CLP x HF70%)). In addition, the CLP must be willing to change, otherwise the early person will not hang around regardless of the hotness factor. This is not to say that two CLPs can never marry and procreate, they can, provided they plan to hang around their kind exclusively (say on a commune or in a cult).
Now I know this is a lot to think about, given that prior to marriage you also need to consider values, education level, religious beliefs, and the man’s head size at birth as compared to woman’s waist-to-hip ratio at present, but I think it’s worth it. I hope you do too.