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Please Accept my E-mail April 7, 2011

Filed under: friends,mommy brain — Elizabeth @ 3:12 PM

I was on the phone with a friend the other day, who jokingly (but seriously), pointed out to me that emails and texts were not an acceptable substitute for phone calls.  He’s right, and my only defense was that I don’t text.  But as far as sending people emails as opposed to picking up the phone?  Guilty as charged.

The truth is that I’ve never liked talking on the phone that much. I just don’t find it a pleasant experience, and if I’m being really honest, I will say that there are times I verge on loathing the telephone. Face to face interactions are clearly my preference, but that just isn’t possible all the time. I’ve actually joked with Jason that I can’t believe we made it through the short part of our relationship that was long distance (because talking on the phone to my husband is no exception–I still don’t like it).

I have found that since becoming a mother, I hate talking on the phone even more, although ironically, I find it easiest to talk on the phone to other moms.  There is a mutual understanding there that background noise will be loud and gratuitous.  You don’t flinch when she interrupts you to stop and kiss a boo-boo or administer discipline (and vice versa).  And there are never hard feelings when one party abruptly states, “I gotta go NOW”.

I have a theory that there are a lot of other mothers out who share my disdain for telephone communication.  There are many reasons I think this is true.

  1. Kids are loud.
  2. They cry.
  3. They whine.
  4. No matter how happily occupied they are, the second you dare to dial a number or God forbid, answer a ringing phone, they need everything. And they need it RIGHT! THEN! They are starving, they just had diarrhea–on your custom made chair, they bit through their tongue, they are dunking their brother’s head in the toilet–something!  And on top of that, the dog just rolled in squirrel crap and is now sleeping in your bed.  Oh, and that new gallon of milk in the fridge has a slow leak.

Our children’s behavior is obviously very annoying to us, as their mothers. But it is also embarrassing because we know that the person on the other end is annoyed with us and thinks that we cannot control our children. We also feel guilty if the person on the other end is a friend or relative (if it’s a telemarketer, we are secretly gleeful) because we are not able to give you the kind of attention you deserve as our friend.

So you would think the solution would be to make or take phone calls when the kids are sleeping. And that would be great. But let me just say that when they are sleeping, it is the first silence our sore and nearly bleeding ears have experienced for hours. Many times at night, I am too tired to talk to my own husband. There have been so many instances at night when my husband has asked me about my day, and my only answer is:  I am too tired to even give you an account.  I can’t even give my opinion on which TV show to watch.  My brain is F.R.I.E.D.  This probably sounds like a ridiculous exaggeration, but I am so sorry to say that it is true.

Or I suppose I could make phone calls while I’m in the car, but there are a lot of negatives to that.  Firstly, safety.  Secondly, 90% of the time my kids are in the car with me, which means I am experiencing all of the normal crying, whining, “mom look at THIS” and “hand me a snack!!!” while trying to navigate the road.  Thirdly, one of my pet peeves is people who call me from the car, and then right when they get to their destination, they abruptly end the conversation, thus leaving me feeling as if I was just a time filler. So that’s three strikes against the car-call.

(As an aside, my other phone pet peeve is people who answer the phone and say immediately in a hushed voice, “I can’t talk right now”.   I am not annoyed that they cannot talk, I am annoyed that they didn’t just send me to voice mail.)

This brings me to email.  A mom’s best friend, if you ask me.  And I am the first to admit that I overuse it.

If I literally have “just a minute” I can email a friend something very quick and not get caught up in a phone conversation that I don’t have time for.  Also sometimes things pop into my head early in the morning or late at night (9:30 is considered late, right?), so I shoot off an email before I forget it.  If my kids are awake and playing loudly, I can sit down and write an email that is coherent.  I might have to stop it and start it 10 different times while I tend to the children, but in the end, the recipient didn’t deal with the interruptions and I could proofread it, and make sure I got all of my thoughts in there.  When the kids are sleeping and I am exhausted, I can write an email while sitting quietly and trying to decompress from the day.

Some people complain that email is impersonal, but I disagree.  Email is only impersonal if what you say is impersonal.  I have many women I have befriended through blog-reading that I have ongoing email correspondence with.  Sometimes we are pouring our hearts out to each other and I feel as if I know them and their hearts and have true friendships with them.  That’s pretty personal.

But I have to be honest and admit that everything I’ve said above are my REASONS for not enjoying talking on the phone.  And they are valid.  However, they are still not good excuses for leaving certain friends of mine hanging.

The reason I wrote this though, is because I wonder if other moms (or even just other busy people) have the same problems, the same guilt over possibly short-changing their friends, and the same dread of phone calls.

In the meantime, to anyone I may have alienated by over-emailing and under-calling, please accept my apologies.  Seriously.  It’s something that I know I do, but I don’t do it because I don’t care or love you.  I just choose it because it is easier sometimes, but that doesn’t make it right.  But also please understand that sometimes an email is a better choice–not just for me, but for you.  I may have spared your ears minutes of background screeching.  So don’t just accept my apology, sometimes, please also accept my email.


14 Responses to “Please Accept my E-mail”

  1. Lori Says:

    Well, I can be really awful b/c sometimes I will let a call go to voicemail, listen to the message and then send them an email or text instead of calling back. Like you, it’s not that I don’t love my friends and want time to talk with them – it’s that I know what a horrific experience a phone call could be at that moment. I also ABHOR talking on the phone. My husband calls me once a day when he’s gone and I verge on very rude with him much of the time. I just hate it!! I also think I have made MANY friendships thru blogging and email so know that I will always gladly accept your email!! Talking on the phone is a chore that most days didn’t make my to do list:)

  2. Tiffany Says:

    guilty. for all of the above reasons. 🙂 So much so that I’ve had boyfriends break up with me, friends disown me, and mothers complain to me. Emailers unite!

  3. Jenny Says:

    oh I am so glad I am not alone. I hate to talk on the phone, I have one girlfriend who is a great phone talker she calls all the time but has 3 kids of her own and so is usually quick and to the point and we both interrupt multiple times to yell at our kids, she is probably the only person I enjoy talking on the phone to, b/c I know she won’t take up a huge chunk of my time.

    And I’m totally in agreement, when my kids are napping or just “napping” that time is sacred, I need that stillness and quiet. But I do feel bad for my friends who enjoy talking on the phone, I know I do some damage by letting their calls go to vm sometimes.

    an email is the best thing ever, I was afraid that people don’t use it anymore :), now that everyone’s on fb, glad to know that I’m not totally out of the loop, not being on fb and all.

  4. tina Says:

    Hi! Here via Grace’s (chois-r-us) blog. And I totally hear you on this post. I hate talking on the phone!!! It annoys my sisters to no end who often say, “why do you even HAVE a phone???”

  5. deb jacobs Says:

    i totally understand. what’s weird is, i used to talk on the phone for HOURS. now i hate it. i feel uncomfortable. i feel social anxiety. i don’t mind at all when i’m talking to moms of young kids tho, like my kids. when my son gets on the phone to me, my grandson henry throws a tantrum. he hates it when papa or mama get on the phone. i totally also understand them saying to me “mom, i have to go NOW”, they’ve told me that many manytimes. i was there once. but my kids didn’t act out when i was on the phone. they were very content playing by themselves when i needed them to be. actually, they didn’t act out much at all. they never whined. maybe i was lucky. but i know that mostly kids are noisy, and i get it and it’s all good=)

  6. Yvonne Says:

    I actually like talking on the phone, but have found that I don’t feel there are many people I can talk with during the day because, well, I have three kids who as you mentioned need me right. at. that. moment. Ugh. And sometimes at the end of the day I’m ready to talk but other times, not so much. And then there are time zone differences with friends and different bedtimes, etc. E-mail is much easier, I agree.

    And I share your pet peeve about being the time filler on the cell-phone call. It’s great that you called, but really?

  7. Elizabeth Says:

    I DESPISE talking on the phone. Always have, always will. Well… I’ve always had a distaste for talking on the phone, but there were two things that made that distaste develop into a downright fear: when I taught 5th grade for two years and had to call the parents of children who misbehaved (yeah, THAT’s a fun phone call to make), and when I worked the phones at an animal shelter, calling 5-18 people every single day to tell them “no, sorry, we can’t take your cat. We have no room.” and then sit there and listen as they rattled off the many reasons they hated me and how I was ultimately killing their cat. Fun times. So I don’t know WHY I don’t like the phone…
    But the point is that having kids wasn’t the catalyst for my hatred. It runs deep in my soul. (Dramatic, huh?)
    Now that there are children, though, talking on the phone is an absolute joke. The screaming, the crying, the pulling on my pants until I look down to see rivers of snot streaming down someone’s face… it’s ridiculous.
    So I am more than happy to continue our lovely email friendship as-is.
    A to the M to the E to the N, sista. LOVE email.
    Down with phones!

  8. christine m tomberlin Says:

    I hate talking on the phone and I dont even have kids! I am retired so time is not a factor. Seems like my precious phone time depends on how much I see you. With my local friends, you’d better have a question, because I dont know why you would call otherwise. With a good friend within state but not close, I have a routine–a 15 minute morning call about 1ce every week or 2. With those far away, I do wait “for the perfect time” for both of us and carve out a significant time slot so we can catch up. But that is usually about every 4-6 months! Email has made life so efficient and streamlined…love it!

  9. Tracy Says:

    I am not a phone person either. My husband finally realizes this after almost 17 years!!! I can talk to moms about mom stuff, that is about it.

    anything I can do through email, or on the computer is good with me. Like this comment.. I can stop, check on the kids, change a diaper, put the dogs outside and get more coffee…. Not rude to you, not ignoring my other responsiblities.

  10. claudia Says:

    the only people I really talk to on the phone are my family, and they live on another continent. It’s just as well I do talk to them on the phone, because my mother always promises to email me and then never does. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

  11. anymommy Says:

    Yes, yes and yes. I’ve always hated the phone, but I abhor it since kids. I am also guilty as charged.

  12. Christy Says:

    Guilty as well! There are a couple of people I can talk to on the phone and we are OK with interruptions, etc. and stay connected, but most of the time I would MUCH rather use email. Especially if I don’t know the person well. And I agree that I have gotten to know some people very well over email. People I hope to meet in person one day as well as people I have now met in person and we stay connected through email (and facebook) until we can meet up again!

  13. Grace Says:

    i am SO awkward on the phone. SO awkward. i hate it!!! and i rarely pick up the phone which drives my mom insane. 😉

  14. Kelly Says:

    I’m the same way. Hate it. And like Grace’s mom, my mom gets very annoyed with me. Did you see the recent NY Times article on this phenomenon? I’m too lazy to look it up – but you should, you’d get a kick out of it 🙂

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