December 13, 2018
I am on my knees in the living room of my house next to the out-of-tune piano with my screaming, crying, snotting sick almost-9 month old wrestling out of my arms. I am crying. I know that what I am crying over is not life threatening. But right now it feels like it is.
“Uncle,” I think. Almost out loud. “I. Need. Help.” I say to nobody in my house. Quietly. Desperately. My small voice, almost stuck in the back of my throat, like the one I used to use when I was 15 and terrified of the tomorrows that lay ahead. Similarly, for no discernible reason that would convince anyone else I was in danger.
Talking to god. Lower case god. Because I haven’t committed to believing there is anything listening, despite the evidence of miraculous happenings in my own current life. “Please, send me something or someone to help.” And my child cries harder and so do I.
The phone rings and startles my tantrum. I pick up an 800 number, unfamiliar, confused. There is a recorded message, “This is your requested return call from Godaddy.com. If you are…” — and my own recorded voice states my own name robotically — “please stay on the line and someone will be with you shortly.” I wait through looped electronic holiday music. A lot of synthesized strings. Mostly “Jingle Bell Rock,” the worst of the worst.
Finally, a voice. A woman, calm and kind. “Hello, this is Angela with GoDaddy, what is your account number, please?” And I proceed to try to explain the mess that I’ve been trying to untangle for the past 4 hours. That I am not a customer of her company, so I don’t have an account, but that my server or domain host or registrar or, ok, I’m not even sure what it is I’ve paid for, but this one company that houses my business email has been hacked and my email is sending out racist emails to thousands and I can’t get anyone from that company on the line to help and so I’m just trying to find out if I should quit that company and send everything to GoDaddy and I don’t even know what I’m talking about and that I’m holding a crying 8 month old who is sick and I’m sick and I’ve yelled at a lot of people and I’m freaking out and this whole debacle is bringing up all sorts of out of proportion reactions to this internet mess that is pointing out that I. Do. Not. Have. My. Shit. Together. And…and….and…
I stutter. I lose control. I cry.
And the miracle starts to become clear. Angela calmly says to me, “I get it. It’s so confusing and I would be overwhelmed too. An 8 month old? Whew. That’s a hard time for you, I’ll bet you are feeling really strange. Hormones start to change and kick in and mess with you. I cried a lot when my children were that age. What is your son’s name?”
“What a perfect name,” she consoles and I start to calm down. And then Angela, dear, sweet miracle of a call-center rep tells me of her 4 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild on the way, and while I’m re-learning to breathe, she explains to me in very clear terms basically the difference between a domain registrar and manager, a domain host and an email server and what each of my company’s I’m doing business with are doing for me (or, some of them, not doing for me). She doesn’t try to sell me anything. She simply explains and then says, “it sounds like you are paying for something you don’t need, so here’s what you do,” and then Angela walks me through the steps to correct the tangled web. At the end of this call she says, “I’m going to email you a screenshot of all of this so you don’t have to remember it because I get that you are overwhelmed, of course you are overwhelmed,” and she ends her call with “Merry Christmas if you celebrate that holiday,” which sounds like the kindest most inclusive way of saying that that I’d ever heard. I profusely thank her and hang up.
And look up at the ceiling, through the ceiling, to the sky, to where the GOD of my childhood lived and still may, that white God hanging on the cross cross-legged and nailed naked to wood, behind my grandmother’s single bed with the antique lace bedspread right next to the single bed of her late husband, where I slept as a child, with the palm fronds always dried and yellowing stuck behind the crucifix. I look up at that God, the one I’d committed to before I understood what a sacrament even was. The one I’d fired a few years ago when I was given permission to find another ‘god’ that worked for me. And now I look to that God, still, once in a while, when things get unmanageable, embarrassingly small things like feeling overwhelmed by technology which makes me feel like a failure and that I should just quit even trying to do business at all. Now, I look up at that God and in that small voice, a whisper, barely, I squeak out between tight vocal chords–
“I’m gonna take that as an answer to that prayer. Thank you.”
As a beautiful song goes, “God speaks to me through you.*”
There are days in the past 8 months I don’t recognize myself. Days of knowing how to take care of a child without asking anyone or reading a blog, but just instinctually knowing how to do something. How to nurse him. How to calm him. How to sing to him. How to play with him. There are days when I don’t recognize myself because the rage erupts without much warning and spills out over everything and everyone in my path, from my husband to strangers on Facebook simply posting advice that, even though it doesn’t answer the damn question I asked, is just their way of belonging to the conversation and being helpful (even if it isn’t and, at the time of my eruption, feels like a distraction from the panicked need for a real solution. Note to self: never panic post on Facebook). I should probably wear a t shirt that says, “Possibly peri-menstrual mother of an 8 month old who may be weaning. Hormones are out of whack. Steer clear.”
In the meantime, I keep re-learning that surrender is never an easy ride. It’s always hard, it’s always bumpy, someone always gets bruised. But that’s why it’s surrender. You learn on your knees that you can’t control much in this world. The best way to surrender is the way we learned when we were in kindergarten. Breathe. Count to 10. And if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.
* “God Speaks” by Travis Meadows.