Open Thread: How Often Do You Talk to Your Mom?
09.07.16
How Old Is Too Old To Call Your Mom Man Repeller Feature1

Last November I gave a speech at my sister’s wedding wherein I dedicated at least two minutes to berating her for making me and our brother look bad when it comes to calling our mom. If we were judged on frequency, my sister knocks it out of the park, my brother’s on second and I’m jogging towards first.

My sister talks to my mom almost every day, which I personally find shocking. But then, no one in their right mind would come to me for advice on staying in touch. There’s a running joke in my family that my brother only calls her when he’s on his way to the subway. That he uses the approaching underground as a polite stand-in for fake static — you know, the kind where you crinkle a bit of paper in the receiver and scream “Oh no I’m losing you!”. This of course isn’t true — that’s just when he’s free! — but we still find the idea hilarious.

I probably call my mom every two or three weeks. Sometimes more, probably less, and, between the myriad family group texts and email threads, I feel adequately connected. She’s accepted my non-communicative ways and picks up the phone as if someone died if it’s only been a couple days since we last spoke, which makes me laugh and feel like a terrible daughter. I love my mom more than every other existing thing though! I’m just not one for phone chit chat or play-by-plays and I’m independent to a fault.

I think this dynamic is only funny to joke about because talking to our parents is such an undeniable THING in culture today. Specifically our moms, if we’re lucky enough to have ones to call. There’s an almost political push-and-pull to it, isn’t there? Are we calling enough? Are they calling enough? How about too much? Is too much a bad thing? Which is worse?

Out of curiosity, I asked some friends about their mother communication habits and collected them below. The variety is surprising, funny and enlightening. Scroll through and then tell us yours!

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“I text with my mom at least every day and we talk on the phone three or four times a week. I feel perfectly comfortable talking to her by text and don’t really need the calls, but I know that she does — mostly because she was a stay-at-home mom and I think is still coming to terms with what it means to be an empty nester (my youngest sibling is 20 years old). Often I wonder if she thinks I don’t need her anymore because I don’t need her the same way that I used to. But I think I need her more than ever, it’s just the way that that manifests now is really different. It doesn’t necessarily mean a call every day or incessant communication anymore. That said, if a day goes by and we haven’t exchanged at least one message, I feel a weird sense of deflation.”

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“I call my mom about once a week and we talk for a half an hour, minimum. Sometimes it’s every other week with texts in-between and then when we do talk, it’s a long catch up or life vent. Who knows what is normal but I think a therapist would say we have a very healthy relationship. Not co-dependent but definitely close.”

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“I speak to my mother every day! We usually FaceTime in the mornings just to let each other know things are okay. If emergencies pop up during the day she usually shoots me a text. I’ve always been very sheltered and speaking to my mom every day adds a level of security for both of us. There’s not a single important decision that I don’t run by her. When I don’t speak to her for a while I get worried she’s mad at me, so I always try to make peace with whatever it is that’s bothering her.”

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“My mom calls me at least once a day. I almost never answer and that’s mostly because my phone is always on silent and I never answer any calls (that’s what voicemails and texts are for!). I return her calls once a week or once every two weeks, and will text occasionally in-between. If I talk to her any more frequently than that, she starts calling me twice (sometimes three!) times a day and it’s a very short drive to crazy town from there.”

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I talk to my mom once a week or sometimes every other week if I’m especially busy or stressed. They pretty much consist of her telling me what she’s up to that day, which typically involves the dog and my dad’s various sporting activities, and then me doing the same. And they almost always end with me reminding her that it’s late in New York and already past my bedtime.

When I was in college, we talked even less, and she would say she’s fine with it because, “If we don’t talk she knows I’m happy,” which kind of just made me worry that we should talk more. Either way, she’s accepted the infrequency!”

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“I talk to my mom once a week or so. Sometimes less, sometimes more. It feels comforting to hear her voice no matter what we talk about (general life check-ins, books, just a quick hello) and I think she feels the same.”

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“I started talking to my mom a lot more recently, maybe once a day. I feel like a baby but sometimes I need her to just tell me what to eat for dinner because I feel so unstable. Usually our convos go like this: I frantically ask her 100 questions that range from the dinner question to how to alleviate a neck pain to ‘I think I’m going to die, I’m short of breath,’ and then, after we get those out of the way, she tells me what she did all day and gossips. It’s a symbiotic relationship akin to that of pollen and bees. And then there’s my dad, who calls me multiple times a day thinking I’ve tripped and died.”

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“I talk to my mom basically every day in some form or another (usually phone or text but sometimes email). I would break our conversations into three categories. 1. Quick and logistical. (Mom: ‘Can you make a dinner reservation for next week?’ Me: ‘Anything for you, My Creator.’) 2. Long and emotional (like when I have a problem that I need to work out — which is pretty often because I am a 5’4″ anxiety weed). 3. When I’m walking somewhere and I’m bored.

I feel great about this routine because my mom always seems to want to talk to me even when I’m being super boring and/or needy. I definitely don’t worry that I call too much — my mom does not play hard to get. Except when she forgets to respond to texts, which is semi-often because, unlike me, she has a healthy relationship with her phone and does not treat it like an appendage.”

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“Since I moved away, we don’t talk very often. It was similar when I was away at college, too. I don’t know why! I have so many questions for her all the time, but I think I have this psychological need to gain independence from her. I can just Google how many cups of rice are in a serving! You know? I also just don’t really love talking on the phone in general. Am I alone in that? I worry I don’t call her enough though. I know that she cares and wants to hear from me but, after a long day, the last thing I usually want to do is explain it all over again to someone. Which is usually what she wants to know, so she can caution me or worry about me, and it’s like: ‘Mom, I worry enough for myself as it is. Please don’t waste your energy also worrying for me!’

But I should call her more. Because I do love her and she’s usually always right.”

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“How often I talked to my mom varies a lot. Some weeks I will talk to her on the phone a couple times, other weeks will involve a lot of emailing and then other times we’ll go two or three weeks without talking at all. Usually when we do talk, it revolves around planning something coming up or catching up about specific events happening in our lives. When I first moved to New York every time we would talk on the phone I would miss her a lot and end up crying by myself on the street, so then I stopped calling her altogether for awhile. It was actually pretty effective!

I feel pretty solid about our routine now. I think we talk when we want to and it feels right. There’s no pressure to talk just because.”

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“We talk almost every day in a family group text and occasionally text one-on-one. Calling is harder with the time difference but we try to FaceTime once a week or so. For me it’s really comforting to catch up that way, because for that hour it feels like I’m sitting on the couch chatting to her like I would do at home. I know she really misses having me around and feels very disconnected from my life here, so I make a point of telling her even the most boring little things, like about a workout class I went to or something I ate for lunch. For that reason our calls are always long and include a lot of updates from me. Then she’ll give me great tips on quick snacks I can whip up if I’m in a rush. She literally thinks of new ones all the time, it’s really amazing.

I always feel really light after chatting with her. Talking about what I’ve been up to feels almost therapeutic. That said, I definitely feel like I don’t talk to her enough, especially if it’s been a busy week and I just don’t get the chance to call.”

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How often do you talk to your mom? What do those conversations look like? Tell us in the comments!

Feature photograph by George Marks via Getty Images; collage by Lily Ross.

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