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.
- Kids are loud.
- They cry.
- They whine.
- 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.