Perfect Attendance is a Liar

I have always prided myself on being on time.

You can count on me to be there. On-time, if not 15 minutes early. The idea of being regarded as flaky in any way makes my heart pound fast.

It was a message internalized to me early.

“The early bird gets the worm.” “If you’re not 5 minutes early, then you’re 5 minutes late.” “If you make plans, you see them through. No matter what.”

Not only have I always wanted to be early/on time, but I don’t miss. I don’t call in. I don’t take off.

All of this seemed so much easier to do until my sweet baby sloth came along. Some people can say that their child has no chill. My child, however, has everyone’s chill.

He is not in a hurry. Ever.

There could be a huge line of cars behind us for drop off to school and I have never seen anyone take longer to get out of a car. Picture a drunk baby giraffe that is just learning to walk and you’ll get an accurate understanding of what his exit from the car looks like.

Mornings are brutal in our house. It’s mostly me staring at him taking 45 minutes to eat the only breakfast that he’ll agree to – a piece of toast with Nutella. It is a constant repeat of “I’m coming,” even though I can clearly see that he has not moved.

So, to say that we have opposite internal energy is putting it mildly.

But, when I started to look mathematically at how much earlier we get places when he does things my way and what time we get there when I take some deep breaths and let him do his own thing in his own time, I noticed a trend. For the most part, we remained on time. Exactly on time. Not early, not late, but on time. Sometimes we were a few minutes late, but it has never been a big deal. Rarely has anyone mentioned it, only I have noticed the tardiness.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, my 15-year-old niece who holds similar internal energy to mine, spends an inordinate amount of time organizing and prioritizing to make absolutely sure that she is also never late or absent. She does not want to put that perfect attendance record at risk!

So, what are we so stressed about that my 5 year old could give two hoots about?

I’m currently reading “The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile and feeling exceedingly seen by their description of Enneagram personality type 1, The Perfectionist, which I had originally NOT been identifying with and it is very revealing.

Control. Control is what it’s all about.

I’m trying to control my environment to decrease my own anxiety. My own concerns are about judgment from others.

In other words, I’m trying to do the impossible job of controlling everything around me.

And, I’m transferring those expectations to my child. That’s not what I want to do.

Perfect attendance is a liar.

What is so great about perfect attendance?

Well ….. I got nothing.

What is so great about never being late?

(Insert shoulder shrug here).

I am exceedingly lucky to work at a job where I receive paid time off. I had started to schedule myself “mental health days” and even scheduled my child 1 or 2 of his own “mental health days” this year.

Now that I’m saving my time off for my maternity leave, I see how important those days were for us. We all need days to just chill. We need days just to let go of all expectations and just be.

That goes for having hard arrival time goals. Unless you are arriving for a flight, there are very few things that you can’t be 5-10 minutes late for. And, if those 5-10 minutes preserve your mental health, then wonderful!

And, the same goes for my expectations of others. If I hope to be given the grace of being 10 minutes late, then I have to give that to others as well.

My worry about judgment from teachers, co-workers, etc thinking “they’re not really sick” or “there’s so much work to be done” will still creep in.

But, at the end of the day, what’s more important? Our mental health or an arbitrary Perfect Attendance Award that will be forgotten the very next day?

How does this all tie into being a flaky friend or someone who does not complete goals?

This is one of my biggest concerns as it relates to not showing up somewhere or not being on time. Perfect attendance is a liar, but “friends who flake” are the worst! I intend on writing about this more in the future. But suffice it to say, if you say that you will be somewhere, you should be there.

If you RSVP, you better be there.

But, I am allowing myself to say no to more things. If I really don’t want to go, you’ll never expect me there because I’ll tell you I won’t be there. There will be no ambiguous “oh, that sounds fun” when I plan to bail at the last minute. If I know we can’t make it on time, I will tell you that we’ll be 30 minutes late. That is what respecting the time of others looks like-being honest and realistic! There is the middle ground between my sweet baby sloth and the Perfect Attendance monster that lives in the mind of me and my 15-year-old niece.


So, here is the only attendance award that you need – The Non-Perfect Attendance Award. Enjoy!

What are your thoughts about “Perfect Attendance?” Share them in the comments!

Amanda is a native of Kenner, LA and is now an honorary Cajun. She is married to a psychiatric nurse, Joe, and is a hospice social worker so don't come to her house unless you are ready to talk about your feelings! Amanda and Joe are parents to Kael and Remy and furry parents to Luna and Spiderman. Amanda is all about that #boymom life and is enjoying wrangling her two wild men while checking out the wonderful culture of Acadiana and all of Louisiana. Amanda is a fan of all things yummy and enjoys a good cocktail. Her motto is "if I can't wear yoga pants, I'm not going".