There is no greater disappointment in life than to have your shortcomings discussed in front of you, as if you aren’t even there. Yet, this is my life. Every morning, as my parents get ready for their day, they find themselves in the bath discussing the shortcomings of their children and their frustration in it. Meanwhile, I lay in bed, awake, listening to it all, and determined to get back to sleep, if only to just piss them off a bit more for not waking up earlier.
In my defense, my shortcomings are a direct result of the environment I’ve been raised in the level of responsibility they have ladled onto me throughout the years. And if we are being quite frank, it wasn’t a lot.
I think now they are resenting the fact that they weren’t harder on us (me and my siblings) by forcing us to perform more house-related tasks, such as cleaning, laundry, and cooking. I think they are resenting the fact, that even now, the wait of these responsibilities as they continue to age, is still placed on them to accomplish. Now, this is not to say that me and my little sister don’t have our moments in which we step in and begin to do these things without being asked, but the frequency upon which we do it is not at the frequency our parents would like.
Meanwhile, as they fuss secretly about me and my sisters to each other, all I can think about is, how much longer. How much longer until I’m out of here? How much longer until I graduate this online program and can apply for the doctorate program and be headed out of this house with my daughter in tow with no remorse?
But then I get nervous about the possibility of blindsighting my boyfriend. Leading him on to believe that I’m more capable of certain tasks than I really am. Managing a checkbook sounds simple enough. Doing laundry and cooking and cleaning are considered basics. But I worry that no sooner do we get engaged and moved in, he will see my shortcomings in all of these aspects and be repulsed by me and take the first exit out he can.
I mean, who wants to be with someone that doesn’t cook on a daily basis and who’s staple dish is something pasta cause it can be cooked under 12 minutes and requires no real preparation. Who wants to be with someone who’s idea of doing laundry is sorting clothes and shoving them into the appropriate machine and then pulling them out without folding them and tossing them into a corner to be folded and put away later. And let’s not forget my inability to keep my room clean for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Sure, I can blame my daughter and her need to have all her toys on the floor all at once to decided what she wants to play with and doesn’t want to play with, but still. I’ve had several messy areas of my room that I keep saying I will get to, since around this time last year. None of these areas have been touched. Well, they have been touched, but within a week of being touched, they’ve returned to their usual mess of an area.
I mean, my boyfriend has seen my messy room. And each time, I’ve been embarrassed for him to enter my small quarters with it’s overzealous mess. Yet, he’s never once cringed or shrunk himself to fit into the cleanest spot of the room, the way I would if I ever had to sit in a messy room. Even my friends don’t seem to mind the mess. And while they don’t seem to care about the fact that I have a corner in which I’ve piled all my clothes to later be put away and folded or the toys scattered across my floor, or the disorganized that is my dresser top with it’s assortment of products and bottles, I can’t help but feel like they are just not reacting to the clutter and mess for the sake of my feelings.
And then I hear my mother’s voice, nagging and demeaning, informing me of my shortcomings and telling me that no one will want to be with me or be around me because of them. That no person in their right mind would overlook these things and be okay with them. And each time, I argue back that the mess, the lack of my cleaning and cooking, have more to do with my current circumstances than my actual abilities. I think I’ve convinced myself of this, but it seems such a dangerous thought.
The question that always hangs over my head is, what if I’m wrong? What even these shortcomings are not a result of current circumstances, but a part of who I am? So deeply ingrained into my character that I can’t make sense of what I would and wouldn’t do without having to be told. And to be quite frank, it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating having to try and decipher your shortcomings for what they actually are.
Sometimes, when I really get down and out about them, I ask my boyfriend for his opinion and wait for him to not only give me and answer but address how he feels about it. He never addresses how he feels about, making his sentiments neutral in the entire episode, as if it holds no weight in my fears. And while I can thank him for this, it doesn’t always lift the weight of the issue off of me. I just sit there trying to do better and hoping that my doing better isn’t just me making a concerted effort to get whatever the task is done, but me doing what I would have done regardless, without having to be told.