My goals for myself and my family’s goals for me differ. They skid off the page away from each other like magnets. At first glance, they look compatible, even like twins, but get them close together and they repel each other violently. The magnets, I mean. My goals and my family’s goals for me are a little more polite, but not much. They are willing to be in the same room, at least, if not on the same page.
With all that skittering and clamoring, though, it is hard to trap the source of the conflict, examine it for signs of a compromise, but let’s just take a look at a typical day. My goal today is to attempt to research something, just what I can’t be sure; that is a subgoal of my vaguely described idea to write and record a podcast for my blog. Also, I intend to spend a lot of time trying to figure out the meaning of life, my life in particular, do a little yoga, and then walk the dog.
On the other hand, my husband’s goals for me today aren’t really goals at all, more like a list of things he doesn’t want to do: don’t forget it’s trash day, you may want throw away the bags in the garage (or I may not want to), call the pool guy again and tell him that the Polaris still doesn’t work, and get more Listerine at Walgreen’s along with dental floss and a new toothbrush, and don’t forget to turn off the porch lights (he called from his car for that one), and can you fix my computer?
My daughter’s goals for me today are a bit more glamorous; they make me feel like a personal assistant to a reality TV star: Make me a hair appointment at that new salon, wash my silver top with the ruffledy front—I think it has to be handwashed (sorry!), I guess just return the red dress—it doesn’t have enough wow for homecoming—and while you’re out (I was going out?) please buy me another battery thingy for my vibrating mascara, it isn’t vibrating anymore, just sort of giving my eyelashes a friendly wave, oh and can you see if they have gold eyeshadow, and what’s for supper?
You wouldn’t believe the trouble I go through to actually do these things; how utterly brainwashed I am. It’s the Stockholm Housewife Syndrome—I identify with my captors, their needs are my needs; I think about their teeth, eyebrows, and underwear, their hair or where their hair went; what they drink, what they eat, are they regular, and what should I do about it. I fluff their pillows and stir their coffee, and clear their plates. When I went to Georgia for a few days, they turned on each other—vicious like abandoned zoo animals locked up with nothing to eat—arguing about the nasty everyday tasks I left behind: feeding the pets, scooping the litter box, unloading the dishwasher, making the beds, closing the refrigerator door! It was hell. Things settled down once I came back home, and took up where I left off—catering to their every need. They feel much better now.
So for the moment, my goals, along with the meaning of life, are curled up on top of my socks on a shelf in the closet. They know, just like I do, that a long to-do list sucks the air out of the soul and leaves you with nothing but shriveled latex and a really high squeaky voice.