Every time a moment arises where I need to talk on the phone, the same thought runs through my head, Ugh. Fuck. Some serious contemplation goes into whether or not I dare make a call. Do I like to talk on the phone? No, I hate it. Why? Because it’s damn near impossible to keep track of my phone, let alone have a conversation on it with three little ones around.
As soon as I bring my phone to my ear and attempt to speak words into it, my children take notice. Like sharks who smell blood in the water, they know the time to strike is now. Only during these rare instances do they choose to get into the most absurd mischief and demand my immediate attention.
These adorable, tiny human beings have somehow mastered the idea that when mommy is preoccupied on the phone, her attention is divided making it unbelievably easy to get into some nonsensical mischief or the perfect time to ask for everything and anything.
These are the times my boys pick the most epic fights with one another to which I’m almost certain as soon as I get off the phone, we’ll be on our way to the emergency room. These are the times they choose to de-clothe and run around in their birthday suits attempting to sneak outside and chase the neighbor’s cat. These are the times they wander into the bathroom and flush an entire roll of toilet paper down the toilet while sticking Band-Aids all over the walls, cabinets and eachother. These are the times my youngest will have a massive blowout accompanied with some high-pitch screams that I never hear otherwise. Always in these times they are starving and dying of thirst.
When I’m on the phone with family or close friends, it isn’t as excruciating of an experience. They’re well aware of how wild and chaotic my life is with three small children. It’s not embarrassing for them to hear me yell for my son to put some pants back on or to stop playing with mommy’s bras. But even then, there’s no real conversation happening. Every other second, there’s an interruption whether it’s me preventing a disaster from happening, tending to a request they desperately need at that exact moment or answering a question they refuse to stop asking until I finally respond – which is then followed by another question and another.
Throughout the phone call, I have no idea what I’m supposed to be talking about and despite my best efforts to pretend and resume where I left off, it’s pointless. I’m too focused on the destruction happening around me and exerting more energy managing the shit show occurring in the background than listening or absorbing any information that is being told to me.
Things get extremely interesting when I’m on the phone with a stranger – usually making an appointment, talking to insurance or some other form of adulting that can’t otherwise be accomplished through email, text or messenger pigeon. I always apologize in advance to the poor soul on the receiving end, because most likely they’re going to have to repeat the information a few times or shout loud enough so I’m able to hear them over the background noise of screaming and crying.
My boys have a sixth sense to when these particular moments arise and are extra aware to my strong need to pay attention without interruption and the take full advantage. On one occasion, while distracted in an intense, important conversation, my eldest took the opportunity to wash our TV. Somehow without me noticing, my son filled a cup up with water and soap, snatched a washcloth and literally washed our brand-new TV. Suffice it to say, that was the most expensive 15-minute phone call I’ve ever made. On the bright side, I’m fairly confident he’d do a bang-up job washing one of our cars when the need arises.
Sometimes, if a phone call is unavoidable, I do my best to logistically plan and prep anything that will promise to keep my boys attention in hopes of giving me a small window of undistracted time. If I’m lucky, all the snacks and TV in the world will buy me a few minutes before they resume their nonsense.
One time, while in a heavy conversation where it was imperative for me to listen, it got to a point where I was throwing gummy bears and candy at them to buy their silence. Ok, not literally throwing, but you get the idea.
In my situation, a call doesn’t weigh more heavily or hold any more importance than a text or email. My option of communication is based out of convenience, not the extent to which I have admiration for anyone.
If I don’t answer a call or haven’t reached out in awhile, it isn’t because I’m avoiding or ignoring you – I’m just most likely either in the middle of cleaning up shit, handling a toddler meltdown or breaking up a sibling wrestling match. If I do happen to have a free instant, I might be soaking up this rare moment of peace because it won’t be long before the chaos continues. One day I’ll have the luxury of uninterrupted time to talk on the phone, but that day is not today.
You see, it’s not that I don’t want to talk to you. It’s my kids who don’t want me to talk to you. I’m not trying to be an asshole – this is just my life right now with little ones. Maybe in a few years or in a decade or two, we’ll get the chance to catch up on the phone in a relaxed conversation. Until then, a text will have to do.