There’s a scene in Aladdin where he’s trying to win over Princess Jasmine, and can’t think of a compliment to offer her.

My opinion is that she should have seen this as a sign to send Aladdin packing. I mean the man swears he’s in love with her and isn’t just after her Dad’s job, but when challenged, he can’t think of a single thing he likes about her. Red. Flag.

Anyway, the genie was disguised as a bumble bee and offering up potential compliments for Aladdin to choose from, and from them all, he chose “punctual.”

In an uncharacteristic bout of good judgement, Jasmine bristles at this. (About a minute before stepping onto a magic carpet with a stranger.)

Her reaction, along her impossible body standards and impossible hair length/volume, was lost on 9-year-old me. All I heard was that Aladdin thought she was punctual.

“That’s it,” I thought. “That’s what men want.”

From that moment on I’ve been punctual to a fault. (And luckily I found Eric, because as it’s turns out I don’t think that is what men were looking for.)

But something’s happened as I add more kids to my family. My penchant for punctuality has turned into a tendency for tardiness.

The first week of back-to-school, as we transition from summer with all the kids at home to fall with at least half of them gone full days, I suddenly find myself with all this time. I deep clean my baseboards, I organize closets, I wash my hair … I even have time to clean the bathroom thoroughly enough to get the perma-urine smell out of the bathroom floors (along with researching ways to help a 5-year-old remember not to turn with his whole body to talk to you while peeing.)

This is my favorite week of the year.

But something happens by the third week of school. Somehow that time is gone. It’s a strange phenomenon, because the minutes in the day don’t change, the school hours don’t change, but somehow I swear I have about three hours less than I did.

First-week-of-school-me packs a variety of healthy foods in a bento box for each child’s lunch, showered fully dressed. Third-week-of-school-me throws a fig bar and a questionable apple in a brown paper bag and shoves it in their backpacks as they run out the door, my hair still wet from my shower. Mid-October-me stands in the driveway in my towel and yells through the open bus window that I don’t care if they don’t like Salisbury steak, they’re ordering it.

And somehow by this point in the school year I am always, always five minutes late. At best. Usually it’s more, depending on how quickly Starbucks is fulfilling their mobile orders, because #priorities.

First-week-of-school-me took the time to wipe my children’s faces and make them somewhat presentable as I sent them off into the world.

Mid-October-me unleashes them on the public looking like this:

First-week-of-school-me cooks them healthy meals full of seasonal produce.

Mid-October-Me lets them finish off their birthday cake for dinner, and share it with the dog.

First-week-of-school-me is at the gym four days a week. Mid-October-me embraces my Winnie-the-Pooh body type and opts for sleeping in.

I’d like to say it will get better, but historically it’s all downhill from here until New Years, when I’ll have another burst of energy and kick off 2022 with a fresh menu board and equally fresh, bathed children. For that one, glorious first week of January, I’ll be on time again, maybe even a few minutes early.

Until then, Aladdin definitely wouldn’t want anything to do with me.