Lifelong Failure

My mother is feeling pushed to make everything nice for her friends coming this week, people she hasn’t seen for decades.

This means she sits in her throne reading magazines and puts pressure on my father.

I try too help, but his frustration and confusion come out at me.

I deal with this as if I was in a business meeting, trying to set an agenda, to make punch lists.

This frustrates them even more, because they don’t want to feel trapped.

They then explain how I should see things the way I see them and do what they would do, highlighting examples of where I mess up, leave crap, make problems, etc.

I acknowledge that I fail at seeing things the way they see them, that I fail at meeting their expectations, and go back to asking what to do.

This frustrates my father more and he says it’s unreasonable to try and do this, and he should have taught me when I was younger how to do things right, but I was so. . .

I acknowledge that it is my lifelong failure to meet theirĀ  expectations, and ask again to make a list of what gets done.

My mother explains that no list can be made, because it is all of a piece, and has to be done in toto, whatever that means.

They fail at management, they have never learned, and set up others for failure to meet their unreasonable, unspoken and apparently unspeakable expectations.

And I just want to get a plan of action for what needs to get done, which they see as unreasonable, impossible and oppressive.

I acknowledge my lifelong failure to understand what they want and satisfy them, even though they hate it when I make their position so clear.

What do you think they might acknowledge?


Dr. Phil likes to say that “You can’t serve two masters.”

Most of the time he says that, it’s bulldonkey, of course. These aren’t people serving a master, these are people trying to meet multiple expectations and requirements, to manage some sort of course as a modern human. They have the requirement to deal with conflicting and contradictory obligations, to live in a world full of tension & ambiguity, which is nowhere near as satisfying to viewers as just doing the right thing.

This potential trip, well, it feels to me like a microcosm of my bigger challenges in the world, obligation to family & propriety versus obligation to self & calling. I suspect that it is needless to say that as such a microcosm it feels particularly bad.

I have the sense that my parents not only depend on me in ways they don’t fully understand, but that they take me for granted. As they get older their tunnel vision increases, and for different reasons neither of them had a particularly wide, integrated or compassionate view in their younger days.

This alone is a good reason to go, so they again value how much I do around here. When we were in Toronto, one of my mother’s friends asked if I worked out. I suspect it was because she (and others) saw the kind of muscle moves it takes to manage an 1/8 ton woman in a tiny transport chair. How would my father handle that? Remember, it’s my perception that I am helping my father take care of my mother, not that I am taking care of my mother.

It’s only a week and a half or so, I really need it, TBB could use me, lots of good reasons to go.

But trying to get it all together in hiding, without support & feedback, well, that’s dammed hard. Yet if I am open, I have to deal with their fears and prejudices too, and I fear that is more than I can bear.

I am torn and shattered, hopeful and hopeless, and all under wicked time pressure.

Microcosm, but Macropain.