It only works if you do it
Mary Caroline's advice was brilliant. Load time for an 8 a.m. school arrival is 7:35. We set an alarm to announce the end of breakfast and the beginning of getting ready to go, which works for Sam because he knows it will get him to school on time and for Lily because she can't argue with an official bugle. Lunches, piano books, gym shoes, laptop -- if it has to go in the car in the morning, it goes in the hall the night before. I put my feet on the floor half an hour earlier every morning because it's that or fail, and I don't like to fail. We weren't just on time, we were early, and it was great.
Until the weekend. I spent Friday night watching Entourage and eating my share of the popcorn I'd made for Sam and his sleepover guest, Dory. As a result, Saturday morning featured a race around the house in search of soccer gear and a loading and shouting fiasco that resulted in Dory's declaring that she was "glad you're not my mom" (which made two of us). It was Saturday, and I still had to be futzing around with load times and prepacking? I should have felt guilty over my failure to schedule and prep. Instead, what I mostly felt was resentment that I still had to.
All I had to do Sunday was cohost a party at a friend's house for my friend Tanya and her new baby, Ella, at noon. Noon! I could wrap the present and buy a card on my way into town in no time. Anyone could do noon.
Anyone, that is, who doesn't stay in bed with a pillow over her head all morning. Rob got up early. I didn't. By the time I finally put on my Mary Caroline game face and identified my load time, I was already sunk. It wasn't the first time that being late had made me inconsiderate to a friend -- or, to be honest, even to these friends -- but it was the first time since I'd learned to blame my own lack of discipline and "magical," lazy thinking instead of the traffic and the kids.
I managed to pull up to the house, tires shrieking, just 15 minutes late. I rushed madly up the walk and suddenly noticed... nothing. When I opened the door, I found my cohost, Jen, stirring the soup, pleased and slightly surprised to have my help with the final prep for the party, which started at 12:30, not noon. (I'd actually done the invitations, so you'd think I'd have known that.) Instead of making my usual apologies, I could slice bread and put out the gift card for everyone to sign. With Jen, I welcomed Tanya and Ella when they arrived, a few minutes early. Or -- as apparently everyone in the world sees it except for me -- right on time.