With an armful of crumpled papers, I pulled my calendar from its tack on the wall, and rushed down the hall. Sheepishly, I found a seat at the table, spread my papers out around me, and began with as much authority as I could muster:
“This meeting is called to order at, let’s see, twelve minutes after nine. If you don’t mind, I would prefer that these weekly organizational sessions start promptly at the top of the hour. Now, without any further delay, let’s get right down to business.”
“The van still needs new brakes, and if you wait much longer, you’ll be paying for rotors too. Hayden has Driver’s Ed on Tuesday at 4:30, but you must somehow get Anna to her orthodontist appointment at 4:45. The checkbook hasn’t been balanced in three months, which might explain why you bounced a check last week,” I continued.
“Francis is on his last pair of clean underwear today, so please put a load of hot whites in at your earliest convenience. Dinghy is due for his monthly flea treatment. You must write two articles this week. The repairman is coming on Thursday between eight and two to fix the washing machine. And you need to get serious about that diet. Now, how do you plan to get all that done?” I finished, and took a slurp of coffee.
No one responded, because no one was there. I was having my weekly meeting with myself, and as usual, I had no idea how to answer my own demands.
I scribbled a “To Do” list, marked a few things on the calendar, and then went about my day, determined to get it all done this time.
But deep inside, I knew the inevitable pattern of my life would repeat itself again. My week would start out OK, productive even. But soon, something would crop up to throw me off track – a school project, a sick kid, writer’s block. One item on my To Do list would collide into the next, and the ensuing pile up would become overwhelming, causing a strange contradictory reaction in whereby I would completely shut down and get nothing done.
By Thursday, my husband would come home from work to find no dinner, the kids run amuck, and me, dazed and unshowered, draped over my computer chair where I have been surfing vintage Tupperware on e-Bay for the last three hours.
Recently, I decided I’d had enough, and set about figuring out: what fundamental flaw in my character has made it so difficult for me to keep up with my responsibilities as a housewife and mother?
After some thought, and half a box of Cheese Nips, I realized that I have always been a follower, not a leader. An Indian, not a Chief. A Workerbee, not the Queen.
I’m not lazy. I’m not incompetent. I’m not disorganized. I just need a supervisor, a boss, a Manager to watch over me and keep me on track.
Ahh, how different things would be with a Manager to offer clear direction and guidance. Of course, I would subject myself to periodic evaluation and take whatever criticism my Manager might propose.
“Ms. Molinari,” my Manager might say, “While it is clear that you are no stranger to hard work, there is room for improvement in the areas of task prioritization, self motivation and personal hygiene. It is my recommendation that you avoid distractions from your daily priorities such as TJ Maxx, free samples in the grocery store, and mid-day reruns of ‘Mob Wives.’ Also, it would be highly advisable that you start showering every morning.”
But I have to face reality. Unless I find someone willing to be compensated in laundry services and meatloaf, I can’t afford a Manager. I am the Manager, and I have to take responsibility, darn it.
Even if it feels like I’m constantly being dragged through life behind my dirty white minivan, I’ll continue this never-ending game of catch up until my job is done. I’ll try to avoid getting tangled in the minutiae – the e-mails, the dust bunnies, the bills, the burnt dinners, the dark roots – and focus on the big picture: Keeping my family happy and healthy.
The value of our shares may fluctuate day by day, but long-term analysis indicates that this family is on an upward trend. Our employees may complain from time to time, but all in all they report excellent job satisfaction. Management lacks efficiency when it comes to goal attainment, but she is dedicated, sincere, and works overtime and on weekends without pay.
Final recommendation: Despite its flaws, this family business is thriving, so there is no immediate need for a change in management.