I have a couple of mottos I live by. One is:
It doesn’t matter how you feel, it matters how you act.
Saturday, I had an Olympic level challenge for this particular virtue. I didn’t medal. Ugh!
So, I had carved out some time to make art. I was doing it; I was listening to music and drawing. You might associate that activity with me but it’s actually really hard for me to draw before 5pm because of responsibilities. And here it was not even afternoon teatime and the markers were out and it was happening! A very pleasant half hour ensued.
Then my cell phone rings. It’s mom. She’d texted earlier that she couldn’t log into Facebook. Though I’d called her right back she is only now returning my call to help. Two and a half hours later I abandon my drawing and hustle to the kitchen. I am late starting dinner. As I chop onions, I review what just happened. I suck! Was I really just that mean to mom? Did I really use that tone of voice? What is wrong with me?
I’m not gonna belabor the plot synopsis of this play because it’s one we’ve all seen. It’s a play we’ve all performed. We’ve all been cast in both roles, the technological idiot and the person trying to help the idiot. The play sucks and everyone hates it. And yet the play has run nonstop for decades. It’s called The Technology isn’t Working, can you help? I know I’ve never felt so helpless as when I am in the idiot role. I mostly only know what I know now because of the number of times I’ve had to play the idiot. Part of the frustration of that role is you don’t know what you don’t know. Hard to be specific about ignorance.
On that note, the reason it’s so difficult to help my mom is because she doesn’t know the simplest terms. She doesn’t know if she is accessing Facebook through a browser or an app. I tried to zoom with her so I could see what she was seeing but she only had her phone so she couldn’t screen share. I tried to transfer her to her laptop, but she doesn’t know her log in password. I have it. She’s in. But it’s useless because she doesn’t know the Wi-Fi password. Cascading problems. I am feeling so much anxiety. Let’s just try to deal with one at a time. Let me ask some questions to get the information I need to understand the problem.
Do you know what a browser is, yes or no?
The screen says…
No mom, just yes or no, do you know what a browser is? Do you know what that term means?
When I click on the…
Mom! Mom! Stop! Please just answer me with a yes or no.
She can’t. I don’t know why. But I have to listen to reams of gobbledygook to try and parse the information I need. It makes me physically upset and my tone of voice stops being the way I want it to be.
Somehow, I do get her back into Facebook. I feel like I just got a Nobel prize. I am so proud of myself. I gave her a stern lecture about passwords and we hang up.
While still taking an arrogant bow at the end of the play for being the person who solved the riddle, the curtains immediately raise on a new play called You are a Terrible Daughter! What’s Wrong with You?
My mother has done so much for me. How many times has she stopped what she was doing to help me? Too many to count. I could never repay her with my time. I have to see helping her as a privilege, not as a roadblock. I call her back, apologize for being not so nice. She doesn’t care, she loves me, and she got her Facebook back. If I am going to medal in the next round, I need to improve my workout. I need to remember to be grateful in the moment of difficulty. I need to tattoo that motto on my arm.