“Hey, Google,” “Hey, Siri,” “Hey, Alexa,” “Hey, Mom,”
Yep, I am proud to announce that I am in the top four search engines. My children are young adults living on their own. If that’s even a thing, I’ll admit to struggling with being a retired-stay-at-home-mom. I’ve wondered what this next phase in life means for me.
I think my new job title may be “Maternal Virtual Assistant:” their personal, quick source of knowledge, answers, and even advice.
Nothing makes me happier than hearing my phone ring and seeing pictures of their sweet faces coming up on my screen. (I may or may not be guilty of never changing those pictures from when they were 9 and 12.)
Sometimes they are calling to chit chat about what’s going on in their lives. I try to suppress my overly enthusiastic joy due to hearing from them and try for the laid-back-just-chilling-mom voice.
Other times, they call for assistance. “Hey, Mom?”
Like cueing Alexa, my light comes on and I anxiously await my question:
“Can I dry whites and reds together?”
“What temperature do I set the oven to for baking chicken?”
“Can I take a pain reliever and a cold medicine at the same time?”
I can fine tune my answer to my grown kids
The fact that they think to call me to find out the answer to a fundamental question warms my heart. They could easily ask virtual assistants like Alexa or Siri, but no, they ask Mom. And I have the advantage, unlike those robots, of having a personal connection to the question-asker. I know their backgrounds and personalities, thus allowing me to fine-tune the answer they are seeking.
This is why, even though they’re far away, I sleep with my phone turned on next to me. We human virtual assistants must be on call 24/7.
I once awoke to a 4am call from my son in a panic because his car was stuck in the snow and ice, and he was late for work.
“Hey, Mom? How can I get my car unstuck from snow?”
Not that I had a lot of experience, but like any search engine, I began naming options.
“Do you have a shovel?”
“Can you use a pizza box for cardboard under a tire?”
“Do you have salt to melt the ice?”
My son needed his mom, not a search engine
I couldn’t physically help, but I like to believe that my ideas and voice are what he needed most. Again, he could have asked Google. But as high-tech as these gadgets are, they are still unable to sound as caring and comforting as ol’ Mom. He eventually got his car out, and we hung up. And like other search engines with targeted ads, I began sending him information about shopping for snow tires and chains.
So empty-nest parents, get ready. Have those phones nearby. They will need you. Be their answer-giver; their soothing voice of options, their source of advice.
And like me, if you don’t know how to answer the question, “What temperature do I set the iron on to melt wax on my snow skis?” Fake it. Use your instinct. Never let them know that you don’t know.
We all get annoyed when Alexa responds, “Hmm, I don’t know that.” Don’t ever say that. You might lose your place as the all-knowing-top-search-engine, and they’ll resort to another option. If you must, steal the virtual assistance phrase, “I’m thinking….” And if you can, secretly boot up your computer to ask the real experts.
I may no longer be needed to be on Mom Duty all day, every day. However, I must be available to answer as many of life’s little and big questions as I can. I may not be a little device plugged into their living room socket, but I am merely a phone call or text away. Always ready to perk up and listen to the simple phrase, “Hey, Mom?”
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