On Monday night, when our internet, phone and television service went dark, I quickly ran through my arsenal of fix-it tricks. I turned off wi-fi and turned it back on. I unplugged the cable box, then plugged it in again. I ignored the problem.

Nothing worked.

“Well, I guess we’re Amish now,” I joked, but everyone was too busy feverishly attempting to refresh their internet to laugh.

I realized from the panic on their faces that was going to have to contact our service provider.

Verizon, ironically, is reluctant to give customers their phone number. And so, on Tuesday morning after clicking every link on their website, I found myself in a text chat with a representative whose words popped up on my phone screen with the assertive enthusiasm of an eager cyber-bully.
Hello Mrs. Gaites! How’s your day going? She asked.
I’m sorry you’re having this trouble. Can you please locate the central box?
I realize this is frustrating. Would you mind hitting the ‘reset’ button for 15 seconds?
Don’t be startled. It should let out a loud beep.
              Nothing happened.

We went on like this for a full hour and a half. She began every request with faux concern and I obeyed her commands. Predictably, we ended our text conversation with an appointment: a two hour window the next day for a service technician.
Would you like to talk about ways to reduce your bill? She was relentlessly perky.
              I am really NOT in the mood

I responded without bothering to punctuate. My morning had been hijacked. Flustered by the lack of resolution and annoyed at lost time, I ended our chat and started my day.

In the week before Mother’s Day, I have chaperoned a kindergarten class trip, ironed ties for my 14 year old, dispensed a few band aids, actually licked my finger to clean a milk moustache off a child’s face, and twitchily signed my daughter up for driving lessons.

And yet in a week where I did all these things and uttered the sentence, “Please stop eating your cereal like an iguana, you’re making a mess,” my interaction with Verizon was probably the mommest thing that happened to me.

I may not be responsible for keeping everyone in my family entertained. I may not even be responsible for their happiness but — let’s face it — most of the time I sure feel like I am. And, like it or not, I am responsible for keeping the househould running.

So, Tuesday night, after 20 hours off the grid and the prospect of another tv-less evening before us, I stood alone once again in the dark recesses of my basement in front of the Verizon box in a last ditch effort to restore connection to the outside world. This time, I noticed a red “replace battery” light and, sure enough, switching out the battery was the answer.

I emerged victorious and was greeted with a fanfare of claps and cheers (my own). In reality, my daughter immediately disappeared into her homework and my older son into Fortnite. Just before my 6 year old could snag my phone, a text popped up on the screen: Hi, our testing shows that your Verizon repair request is resolved. We’ll continue to monitor your service and if we find an issue, you’ll be notified.

Turns out, dealing with a large telecommunications company is a practical excercise in being a mother. It requires patience, flexibility and problem-solving. It is uncomfortable and frustrating and progress is slow. When something goes wrong, everyone will look to you to fix it. When things go well, someone else will get credit. And, when it’s all done, everyone around you will act like it was easy.

RESOLVED. Magically and motherly resolved. Is there any other way?


  • Sandy

    You always make me laugh!! I thought of your wittiness when I watched Motherhood with Uma Thurman. You may want to see it:)

    • Jennifer Gaites

      Thanks, Sandy! I haven’t seen it, but now that our cable is restored, I’ll look for it 😉

  • Lynn H

    My husband usually takes care of the telecommunication “blips.” Next time it happens, and it surely will, I will thank him profusely for the hours he has spent and the frustration he has endured. Thanks for the perspective. It really hit home.

    • Jennifer Gaites

      Good idea…a little appreciation goes a long way. After all, that’s what Mother’s Day is about, right? Thanks for reading, Lynn!


Leave a comment