You know when you’re sitting and waiting, and there’s nothing you can do? You know what I mean – one of those situations that’s entirely beyond your control.
It happened to me last evening when my site went down for a few hours, due to something that came up with my provider and required a simple fix. An email and phone call made that clear, and equally clear – the fact that I would need to wait.
There was a queue. A sequence. A set of priorities.
I was dangling by a thread with no say in the matter, no way to influence the speed of resolution, and no control whatsoever over yet one more situation in daily life.
Oh, it’s hardly a tragedy if my site is offline a few hours. It’s rare, I’m happy with my service, and it’s more my perfectionist tendencies that have me on edge if anything is awry with this gathering spot for expression, discussion, and occasionally – shared laughter.
But I am unnerved by helplessness that sets off emotional triggers to do with other areas of my personal and professional life. Issues that matter enormously to any single mother, or anyone struggling in this economy.
And then there’s my younger son and something that matters to him at the moment – something “simple” that has been out of reach financially, for several years.
* * *
I find myself pacing.
I’m checking my page and my email every ten minutes.
I watch a movie, but my mind is drifting.
I’m calmer than I thought I would be – I am polite on the phone with the man addressing the issue – and I do my best to surrender to the fact that truly there is nothing I can do.
I seek a place of broader perspective; I’m fine, and my kids are fine. It’s only that my site is down, and them’s the breaks.
* * *
He sits beside me in the car and his bad mood is palpable.
I inhale and exhale and remind myself that motherhood is an inexact art, and growing up, a fluid and imperfect process under any circumstances.
I note his translucent skin in the early light, his lids still heavy with sleep, and the wispy mustache over his upper lip. I take in his changing profile – the strong chin, the line of his nose that is reshaping in older adolescence, the way he has just started to comb his hair off his forehead which makes him look more mature.
He’s a handsome kid.
“Happy we’re doing this?”
I’m weaving in and out of rush hour traffic.
“It’s about time,” he says, with irritation in his tone.
His remark is without malice, but it annoys me all the same. He rolls his head toward me and I can’t miss the surly expression.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “It was out of my control.”
“I’m just venting my frustration, okay?”
I can tell he’s sitting on anger and holding back. I can only imagine the complexity of feelings he’s experienced over the years, caught in a particular limbo between two parents. Some of the emotions we’ve talked about. Many we haven’t.
I think to myself that he’s luckier than some, and better late than never when it comes to this class. If he’s unhappy about timing, them’s the breaks.
I bite my tongue and continue driving.
* * *
It isn’t like waiting for a medical diagnosis. It isn’t like waiting to hear about a job, an acceptance to school, an offering of scholarship, or any other significant news or opportunity.
I take long, slow breaths to alleviate the intensity of my emotion – the fact that I am again out of control, that money issues change the complexion of any endeavor, that a history of years of financial complications and no success at fighting back triggers terrible responses in me.
Despondency. Hatred. Cynicism.
Years of fighting for monies due and only partially paid. Years of fighting, period. In the dark, from a place of darkness, until finally giving up in order to find a small piece of light.
I glance for the fiftieth time at my computer screen and see – at last – that an email has popped up; my site is fixed, and I can close my eyes and sleep – if I can push the other worries out of my head, how the next weeks will flow, the unbudgeted costs in gas and more that go along with this undertaking that he wants so much, that is a small thing and a big deal, that he will manage and I will manage and we will manage because we always have. Because we must.
* * *
I’m not good at waiting, though I’ve learned.
How to deal with no control?
Practice, I suppose – whether we like it or not.
Yet I despise these states of in-between, of lifestyle limbo, of floating, though I have come to be more tolerant in the unsettling embrace of each.
I tell myself there will always be disappointment, there will always be frustration, there will always be things beyond our grasp and out of our control, and my son will be the better for knowing it. As for me, I recognize my triggers and have learned to manage them.
But I’m tired, so tired, and even more so, weary of what is out of my control.
I tell myself it’s Monday and the feelings will pass. Them’s the breaks, and it’s time to buck up.
The coffee is plentiful, and for now, that’s enough.