My Mom on Zoom

They say if you can put a man on the moon …

Well they did put some men on the moon (about 50 years ago, in fact) and this year, I got my mom on Zoom. Once you finish reading this blog, you decide which feat is more impressive.

I should start by saying, I love my mom more than anything. She’s one of my best friends and my biggest supporter in everything I do. And she did approve the writing, and sharing, of this blog.

That being said, mom does have some computer, shall I call them, ‘shortcomings’? And she’ll be the first to admit it. First of all, her computer itself – measured in ‘technology years’ – would definitely be considered an antique, as is her antiquated online service provider. By the time my emails reach her, I could have traveled to her condo, about 10 miles away, and hand-delivered the message … on foot. O.k. I’m exaggerating about the on-foot part, but not by that much!

My mom’s also big on keeping things neat and organized (I get that from her) but that also entails a lot of purging. And every time she deletes the email notifications with the link to each of my blogposts, she gets really upset that she erased my entire blog. I’ve tried to reassure her, letting her know she can get there without even going to an email. And that what she does in her inbox has no effect whatsoever on my blog website.

It’s actually cute when she marvels at how we can have video chats and see and hear the kids, who are in other states (“through the computer”??? she says in disbelief). And her flip, definitely ‘non-smart’, phone has its obvious limitations.

In short, Mission: Get Mom on Zoom was going to be tough … but I was up for the challenge.

The whole idea was precipitated by a local library book club that turned virtual for obvious, pandemic-related safety reasons. I didn’t want mom to miss out on the monthly discussion we look forward to so much. So I decided – on the spot one day – to take that one ‘giant leap’ into the 21st Century with her. Get her on the video platform that’s keeping us all connected during these difficult and crazy times. Launch an endless world of possibilities – virtual book club, online bridge games, even video chats with the grandkids. The sky was the limit. To Infinity and Beyond. (Forgive all the shameless space puns!)

I also want to point out that Jamie was going to write this blog – as my favorite guest blog satirist. But, in true Jamie fashion, she dramatically explained she couldn’t as it would cause her to ‘relive the traumatic experience’ of completing the mission at hand with her mom and ‘Grammy Gilda’.

So here’s how it all went down …

Jamie and I were enjoying a brief rare visit with mom in her apartment – social distancing and wearing masks. Not getting within six feet of mom made setting her up on Zoom that much more difficult. And, as Jamie will tell you, the fact that I didn’t … um … quite know what I was doing on my cell phone to launch said meeting didn’t help either.

Jamie was telling me how to get the app on my phone (which I find absolutely painstaking with all the info and new password required, etc.) then invite mom to join. Jamie gets totally frustrated with my own technology ‘challenges’ at times. She especially hates that I’m ‘afraid’ to push buttons or make a mistake … lecturing that there’s nothing I can’t undo. (Caught between a rock and a hard place, my husband often gets frustrated when I’m on the computer with him, saying I’m a ‘random mad clicker’. Sometimes you just can’t win!)

In any case, my Millennial daughter was decidedly losing patience fast with Baby Boomer mom, who wasn’t having all that much patience with computer-challenged ‘Greatest Generation’ mom/grandma. And I was beginning to understand why my tech-savvy kids always feign ignorance and/or run for cover when I seek their computer assistance.

For one thing, my mom was having trouble finding the Zoom invite link … once it finally arrived as an email on her computer. “Go to where you get your email,” I said, but she was still confused, saying, “But that’s not Zoom.” I persevered … ‘The link is in your email!!” I realized then that she didn’t quite know what a link was. Challenge #1.

Then we had to pause while she found her cursor icon (apparently it gets lost frequently). Challenge #2.

We finally got to the link when a dialogue box came up asking for permission to access Zoom and this turned out to be a major roadblock of sorts too … until I just calmly and methodically walked her through the steps, answering seemingly endless questions, dispelling lingering doubts. In some cases, it was just a matter of telling her it was o.k. to just ‘click o.k.’ as prompted.

In all transparency, it didn’t help matters that I couldn’t figure out how to get myself into the meeting. But after much cajoling (groveling and maybe even a bribe, I can’t remember), Jamie got the meeting started on my phone and I was able to go through the process with mom again and actually get her on Zoom … in what I will definitely call our finest (technology) hour!

I was in the kitchen while mom was right around the corner on the large desktop computer in her small home office. And we were speaking to, and seeing, each other! Well, I was at least seeing the very crown of mom’s head as she couldn’t figure out how to move the monitor to show her full face or more. But we weren’t going to push it … it was ‘close enough for Government work’ as my dad, a career U.S. Customs Manager, always used to joke.

We did another test run the night before the book club and … success again! This time, my mom had figured out how to adjust the screen so I could see to about her nose … we were making progress.

The night of the book club, my endeavors were rewarded. She was the very first one on the Zoom meeting. Can you imagine how proud I was? The only glitch was when the meeting ended early and the librarian host needed to restart it. Everyone rejoined but mom, who couldn’t quite get back on.

But we were ecstatic and she has even moved on to online bridge games. She’s still worried she deleted the email with the Zoom invite for last month’s library book club meeting but, again, I reassured her there is another invite coming. We’ll be fine.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

3 thoughts on “My Mom on Zoom

  1. Too funny! Ernie & I were in hysterics over this. It’s so funny because we can all relate to it. Thanks for sharing (& for Gilda’s good sportsmanship). Happy Mother’s Day!


  2. Ellen, my love, I did indeed get this on my work e-mail that is connected to my home machine. what a great piece – I believe you should send it to someone to publish. It certainly rings true for so many of us. I hope you sent this to Holly. she would really enjoy it and relate to it. And, relate to it> Love you to pieces, Aunt Connie


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s