I was late for the meeting. Again.
With an armful of crumpled papers, I rushed down the hall. Sheepishly, I found a seat at the table, 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’d prefer that these weekly sessions start promptly at the top of the hour. Now, without further delay, let’s get down to business.”
“The van still needs new brakes, and if you wait much longer, you’ll be paying for rotors too. Lilly has her driver’s test on Tuesday at 3:15, but you must somehow get her to the dentist at four. 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, so please put a load of hot whites in at your earliest convenience. Moby is due for his monthly flea and tick medication. You must write two articles this week. The repairman is coming on Thursday between eight and two to fix the fridge. And you need to get serious about that juice cleanse. Now, how do you plan to get all that done?” I finished, and took a slurp of coffee.
No one responded, because 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 once and for all.
But deep inside, I knew the inevitable pattern of my life would repeat itself. My week would start out productive. But soon, something would 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.
By Friday, Francis would come home from work to find no dinner, unfolded laundry heaped on the coffee table, and me, dazed and unshowered, draped over my computer chair where I’d been surfing vintage Tupperware on e-Bay for the last three hours.
What fundamental flaw in my character has made it so difficult for me to keep up with my responsibilities as a work-from-home military spouse and mom?
After some thought, and half a box of Cheese Nips, I realized that I have always been a soldier, not a commander. 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 someone to offer clear direction and guidance.
“Ms. Molinari,” my boss 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, and mid-day reruns of ‘Mob Wives.’”
But unless I find someone willing to be compensated in meatloaf, I can’t afford to pay a manager to give me direction. I am the manager, damn it, and I have to take responsibility.
Even if it feels like I’m being dragged through life behind my dirty white minivan, I’ll continue this never-ending game of catch up until the 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 our family happy and healthy.
Long-term analysis indicates that this family is on an upward trend. Subordinates may complain from time to time, but all in all, they report excellent workplace satisfaction. As manager, I sometimes lack efficiency, but I am dedicated, sincere, and work overtime and on weekends without pay.
Despite its flaws, this family business is thriving, so there is no immediate need for new management.