Aging Change Habits

In Defense of Dawdling

April 30, 2017

I’m here to state that, in my opinion, dawdling has gotten a bad rap. Look up the word in the dictionary and here’s what you’ll find: Daw.dle: vi Move slowly, take one’s time; waste time; idle; linger; take more time than necessary; to spend time without haste or purpose.

Does it not sound like a vice? Like a person who dares to dawdle is first cousin to a sloth? And isn’t sloth one of the seven deadly sins?

If this is so, then I am a sinner! Sew a big red “D” onto the front of my latest Michael Stars tee shirt because I am guilty of dawdling. And enjoying every depraved second of it!

Yes, I am an unabashed, unapologetic dawdler. I even like saying the word. To me, the word itself evokes its meaning. Try lingering on the first syllable with a gentle rounding of the lips and complete the second syllable only when you’re good and ready. See what I mean.

It has been instilled in us from a young age that dawdling is morally undesirable. On a list of “Do’s and Don’t’s” for behaviors, dawdling definitely falls in the “Don’t” column. “Don’t dawdle over your breakfast. You’ll be late for school.” Or, “Stop dawdling, and go do your homework if you want to get into Harvard. So what if you’re only in second grade.” (In my case, I doubt it was dawdling that kept me out of Harvard. It was more likely my math scores. )

In life’s second stage, we’re the ones issuing the anti-dawdling warnings to our kids, as we rush to get them out the door in the morning, and perhaps ourselves off to work, as well. After school, there are appointments, games, lessons, rushing here and there with no time to spare.

And let’s not forget shopping, preparing meals, laundry, and oh, yes, the family dog. And weekends bring little relief. No extra hour of sleep or a long, hot shower because our future A-Rod or Serena Williams has to be chauffeured to their games. After all, excelling in athletics looks really good on that Harvard application. Life at this stage is the antithesis of dawdling; it’s perpetual motion.

Then the day finally comes when your last child leaves home for Punxsutawny State Junior College (you tried your best), and the color of life begins to change from fire engine red to salmon. Not quite peaceful pink, because you still need to get yourself out the door each morning and arrive at work on time. And there’s still the matter of the dog. Dawdling remains on hold.

Eventually you cross the magic threshold. You are a person of a certain age. You are a retired person of a certain age. Life finally takes on a pinkish glow. Not exactly my own personally favorite color, but pink is associated with calm.

So Happy Birthday, folks, and congratulations! You have earned the right to dawdle.

As for me, I do my best dawdling at breakfast. I have never been a morning person, and frankly don’t understand people who are. I’ve always relied on that first cup of coffee to get my engine going, whereas morning people act as if they had a caffeine drip inserted in their veins at bedtime. Getting myself and others out of the door each day was difficult, like slogging through peanut butter. Nevertheless, for all those years, I did what I had to do.

But now, the mornings are luxurious. I actually look forward to getting out of bed. My life is finally in lock step with my Circadian rhythm, which doesn’t awaken until about 10 AM. I’m usually up around seven, and enthusiastically looking forward to taking my time. I manage to exchange a few grunts with my husband, who actually is much more of a morning person than I am, but chooses to remain horizontal until he smells the coffee.

I don’t mind. I make my way down the stairs, followed by the dog, (yes, there is still a dog) who thankfully does not require any communication from me as I unlock the door and let him outside.

Soon the coffee is ready, breakfast is laid out, and my honey has padded to the kitchen with his newspapers. I slowly begin to sip the first cup. Aah!

While leisurely sipping the second cup, I watch the news on TV. I reach for the crossword puzzle as a distraction from the latest depressing predicament. If I am successful, I reach for a second puzzle from the other newspaper. How much time has elapsed? An hour? More? The beauty is, it doesn’t matter.

No early morning appointments, please. No breakfast dates, no golf games, no doctor’s visits if at all possible. I am way too busy dawdling, and loving every precious second.

But, at some point do I spring into action or do I spend my entire day lingering over 1 Across and 9 Down? Actually, I don’t. Linger, that is. There’s a little cricket that sits on my shoulder and warns me that my dawdling will turn into sloth if I spend one minute more in my bathrobe. It’s time to get going, and that’s fine.

I can be happily productive for the remaining hours, right up until bedtime. Because tomorrow morning brings a brand-new opportunity to once again do my very best to elevate dawdling to an art form.

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  • Reply Suzanne Chait-Magenheim April 30, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    I like the peanut butter analogy
    I am a morning person but I see my husband as a morning dawdler. I use the term- piddling. I guess I made it up. He puddles? He moves things around the table or desk. And I call him Pokey-man ie Pokemon.


  • Reply Suzanne Chait-Magenheim April 30, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    About my previous entry comment:
    . My husband doesn’t puddle. (Spellcheck typo.)He piddles. He dawdles. A good example how my speeding in the morning is not such a good idea. Have to check spellcheck!! Dawdling may lead to fewer typos! My red needs more pink.
    AND I forgot to mention how clever and well-written the piece is!! Love it.

  • Reply Gilly April 30, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Oh, how I love to dawdle in the morning. As a matter of fact I am dawdling at this very moment. I loved this blog!

  • Reply Susan Goldfein April 30, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    I embrace my fellow dawdlers!

  • Reply Sue Leese April 30, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    I am so happy to know a fellow dawdler It is 11am and I am still in my nightgowns playing on my IPad
    Face the Nation is on the tv hopefully nothing that The Donald is saying will seep. Into my brain.
    Maybe later I will do some gardening, laundry or maybe not
    Sue Leese
    Am I dawdling now?

  • Reply Susan Goldfein April 30, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Congratulations! I am very pleased to welcome you to the club!

  • Reply Sheila . Marks April 30, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    Thank you for absolving me from guilt! Half the day is gone and I’m still dawdling and loving it.

    • Reply Susan Goldfein May 1, 2017 at 1:45 am

      You go girl! (But not too quickly!)

  • Reply Valerie Friedricks April 30, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    am a very proficient dawdler myself!

    • Reply Susan Goldfein May 1, 2017 at 1:42 am

      Welcome to the sisterhood!

  • Reply Bruder May 1, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Whenever I hear (or read) the word ‘dawdle’ I think of the Lovin’ Spoonful song ‘Darling Come Home Soon’. I don’t think there are too many songs that have the word ‘dawdle’ in the lyrics. Also, what makes you think that it is only the female of the species that practices dawdling? I will gladly be late for work in the morning just so I may finish the NY Times Ken Ken puzzles while eating my breakfast. This happens more frequently towards the end of the week as the puzzles, similar to the crossword puzzles, get harder each day.

  • Reply Susan Goldfein May 1, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    I hope nobody at your workplace reads what you just wrote! And I didn’t mean to claim dawdling as a feminist privilege. Dawdle away, dear brother! XO

  • Reply Marjorie Weiss May 1, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    My favorite line : color of life begins to change from fire engine red to salmon.

  • Reply Susan Goldfein May 1, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Yes – a calmer shade on the red-pink spectrum!

  • Reply Nikki May 1, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    I always wondered how noon arrived
    And I was still at my kitchen table. Now I know I was dawdling. My 42 year old son and I often will call each other to shake us free from piddling which we are quite expert at. Our piddling involves moving from room to room not accomplishing what you went to the room for in the first place. You are right though– dawdling, piddling and idling don’t set well in any of the three dictionaries I just dawdled over.

    • Reply Susan Goldfein May 1, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      Sounds like you’re one of us. Welcome!

  • Reply Judy Czubati May 7, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    OMG! I am, in fact, dawdling right now. Or Putzing around, as I call it. Still in my nightgown but must get moving along,.Fiona, my dog,,likes a walk before the sun burns through her white fur. So happy to have discovered Susan and recommending her site to my sister..a world class dawdler, if there ever was one.

  • Reply Susan Goldfein May 7, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    What better time to dawdle than a Sunday morning? Hey, thanks for the recommendation!

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