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Lady of the House

1950s-tired-exhausted_~h2867By Cathy Jameson

“Wrong number,” I replied. 

Every few weeks someone calls the house looking for a woman named Rosa.  I can tell right away that it’s either a telemarketer or a collection agency.  Sometimes it’s a recording for Rosa to please call the 1-800 number back.  Other times when I’ve pick up the phone I recognize a fuzzy sound in my ear and think uh, oh.  The low sound with a bit of static muffles some of who I know is in the background.  It’s the distant chatter of hundreds of operators sitting in a call center.  That sound is a tell tale sign that comes with a knee-jerk reaction--don’t breathe; they’ll know I’m alive and will think they can start talking to me.  The lone operator assigned to track Rosa with my phone number is relentless despite the “wrong number” responses I’ve given in the past.  I’ve adopted a new strategy when I hear that muffled noise as I pick up the phone:  hang up quickly.  It saves me more time.

The last call I got caught me off guard though.  I answered the phone thinking it was a friend.  I waited a few seconds after I’d said hello and realized the call wasn’t for me.  It was for Rosa.  I decided not to hang up right away and answered again with a long, drawn out, “H-e-l-l-o???”  The collection agency was once more trying to get a hold of Rosa.  Using one of their underpaid, irritated automatons pretending to sound chipper I heard, “Good morning!  May I please speak to Rosa?”  I replied, “You have the wrong number,” and politely tried to hang up.  Cutting me off the operator said, “Ma’am, are you the lady of the house?”

I had to laugh.  Lady of the House.  What a catchy title!  It reeks of regality and privilege.  I pictured myself lounging, completely lazy and fully catered to by wait staff on a lovely afternoon.  I saw myself sitting poolside with a tasty adult beverage in hand.  What fun!  Too bad for me though.  It’s so not how I really am or really see myself, my situation or my home.  Frumpy, exhausting and a tad on the disorganized side describes me and what’s going on around me.  This was especially so on the morning of that call. 

If I were the Lady of the House I surely wouldn’t be answering my own phone.  I’d have someone else do that.  I certainly wouldn’t still be in my pajamas at 10am eating cereal with a plastic kid’s spoon.   I definitely wouldn’t have driven my children to school in those pajamas either.  But I did.

Back to the phone call.  “Are you the lady of the house?”  I paused long enough to envision myself this time being pampered in a mansion sitting atop an impeccably landscaped lawn at the edge of the ocean.  Stammering I said, “Lady of the house?!  Nope, but thanks for that thought.  You have the wrong number.” 

This call was turning out to be entertaining.  I didn’t want to hang up as quickly as I usually do, so I added, “Rosa doesn’t live here.”

I stayed on the line wondering what would come next.  Clearly tired of making calls for someone else, the operator sighed and asked again, “So, you’re not Rosa?  We need her to contact us about her account.  Do you know where she is? ”

“Nope,” I sputtered as I crunched through my gluten-free Koala Krisps hoping to at least finish breakfast before it was lunchtime.

The disgruntled debt collector pressed, “Do you have the authority to make decisions for the household?”

I almost choked on the next spoonful. Obviously the operator clearly hadn’t heard that Rosa isn’t here, nor was she ever, and I don’t give a lick about her debt since I have enough of my own to worry about.  “Okay, I’m going to hang up now.  You have the wrong number….”

“But, do you have authority to make decisions…”


After I hung up I sat back and smirked.  Do I have the authority to make decisions?  Of course I do.  I make decisions all the time.  Some of them have been really great ones like finding a program that suited my son’s needs.  Another one was catching him up on skills to really master them.   Investing thousands of dollars to give Ronan the chance to grow after spending hundreds of hours researching therapy and educational options was another big decision.  I’ve also stuck my neck out while stepping over other people’s decisions in order to ensure proper treatment for Ronan.  One of the greatest ones?  Promising to never give up on my child. 

Have I made some really awful decisions?  Sure.  Who hasn’t?  Here’s a peek at some of the bad ones:

-Trusting medical providers who gave me their one-sided vaccine education spiel, “They’re all good, every single one of them!”  Um.  No, doc.  They aren’t.

-Vaccinating my children without educating myself beyond knowing the name of the vaccine plunged into their body.

-Letting the nay sayers get me down in the dumps

-Hiring people for Ronan’s care who only work for a paycheck

-Dwelling on the past wishing it all away.  Yep, I do that every now and then, too.  But, like I’ve said before, if the past hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be able to shape the future to make it better.  Some days I whole-heartedly believe that.  Other days?  Not so much.

Decisions, decisions. 

Life is full of them.

As Lady of the House of Jameson, where a little boy depends on me to make the biggest decisions of my life, I now educate myself as much as I can.  I read. I ask lots of questions.  I seek advice.  Then, I read some more.  I don’t take anything lightly or for granted.  I can’t.  My son’s life could literally depend on a decision I have to make. 

I’ll never be the fancy pants Lady of the House I envisioned from that wrong number phone call.  Being that person is far from any dream or reality I want in life.  I’m more of a let’s-make-things-happen-now kind of person.  Plus, I don’t expect someone else to hand me everything I want or need to make things easier to manage.  And I certainly won’t sit still waiting for someone else to do something for him or for me.  I can’t.  Too much work is still yet to be done. 

Someday I hope to be able to stop long enough to enjoy a quiet day with nothing to do and nothing to worry about.  Someday that time will come.  My dream is for Ronan to be free of some of his struggles and to again be able to do typical things like typical kids.  Since I am a firm believer in dreams coming true, I’m willing to work every day to make them happen.

Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.


Jeannette Bishop

Thanks for frequent inspiration to not just go on auto-pilot, but put a little more into being a better parent.


I think super "Hero of the house of Jameson" would be a better
title that you deserve Cathy.You are a gifted and talented writer to.I can see it just from your story that Ronan will succeed,because of your knowledge and wonderful care.


"Ronan won the Mom lottery"
And the Dad prize!

Theresa 66

usually phone sales people get my pitch..." I can't afford whatever your selling, because We spend all our extra money ( he he, extra ),
to recover our vaccine injured child."
I'm not buying their product, but they get a tip to investigate vaccines before blindly using them. Sometimes the conversation includes a "Yes, we know", but usually its just " My son, niece or neighbor's child has autism". Getting the word out and they are calling me, how easy.
Awesome insight, Cathy


"As Lady of the House of Jameson, where a little boy depends on me to make the biggest decisions of my life, I now educate myself as much as I can. I read. I ask lots of questions. I seek advice. Then, I read some more. I don’t take anything lightly or for granted. I can’t. My son’s life could literally depend on a decision I have to make."

Exquisitely stated, lady! :)

Anne Dachel

Delightful and profound. Cathy, you say it so well.


I loved this, and I hope all your dreams come true. Thank you. Your writing is always so full of impact for me--you must have a great deal of natural talent, to be able to write such evocative pieces while in the midst of the storm. Something else too--Ronan clearly won the Mom Lottery.

tara mcmillan

Thanks for the pointers with the telemarketers. I am so glad Ronan has a thinking mom of the house!

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