It’s not new.
For the past year or so – maybe even two years, I’ve hardly called anyone on the phone. Those who want to talk to me – call me.
I have a friend who calls me when she’s on the bus home. We always get cut off twice, when she goes through the tunnels. Often, she calls at the darndest times. But she is just too hard to hang up on. We usually talk her entire bus ride, until she arrives home and has to get off the phone. (She doesn’t *have* to hang up. But she and her husband have this *thing*. They only talk on the phone when the other isn’t around. One day, when I grow up, I will adopt that policy. I kind of wish we’d done that immediately after our wedding. It’s tougher now.)
Yitzchak’s mother, my grandmother, and countless others – all of them call us. Because the day goes like this:
Get ready to go.
Leave the house.
Walk to gan.
[Go to work and/or
go shopping. And/or
Walk in the door.
Help baby take a nap.
Phew! Finally some time to myself, to get things done. Now I need to:
Clean up the house.
Do some laundry.
Maybe use the bathroom.
Oops! Baby woke up.
Play with baby (because you can’t do anything *else* with a kvetchy baby hanging off you).
Put baby in stroller.
Go get big boy.
Come home with big boy.
De-sand big boy.
Feed big boy, and maybe baby, too.
Use the bathroom.
Try to relax.
Try to keep things under control while
and waiting for Yitzchak to come home.
Yitzchak gets home.
Then it’s bedtime. Ideally,
one of us gets big boy to bed,
and the other one gets baby to bed. Sometimes,
one of us holds baby,
while the other gets big boy to bed,
and then takes screaming baby,
who wanted the same parent as big boy,
and gets screaming baby to bed.
Finally! Kids are sleeping in bed, and we can calm down.
And *then* Yitzchak and I talk.
And then we work –
on the house
on the computer
on whatever else.
When will I talk on the phone?
During the morning, when I’m running around?
During the afternoon, when I have both kids?
After bedtime, when I’m trying to get myself back together, get some work done, and talk to Yitzchak?
I just don’t have time, and more than that, I don’t have the emotional energy.
Texts, I can do. Emails, I can also do.
But a phone call requires commitment. To quiet; to not doing anything else; to ten or twenty minutes of quiet; to being available non-stop for the entire time; to being able to speak into a phone, preferably the house phone, for the entire time.
With texts, you can start typing, separate big kid from little kid, and go back to typing. You can press “send” while saying, “You need to *try* to poop, even if you don’t think you have to.” Emails are even easier. No one expects you to answer an email within twenty minutes. Instead, they expect their answer anywhere between within a few hours to within a few days.
But if I shout, “Excuse me! We don’t run while we’re eating, it’s dangerous!” too many times while I’m on the phone, chances are pretty good that the person I’m talking to will be annoyed. Unless, of course, it’s either Yitzchak’s mother, or the person I’m speaking to is also refereeing while on the phone.
I’ve tried to make phone calls. I’ve tried calling two people a week. I’ve tried calling during naptime. I actually used to make my phone calls during Tova’s naptime. But that was when she napped every three hours or so. Today, she has a morning nap, and an afternoon nap. And it’s a lucky day that they both fall out during times when she can actually sleep in her bed until she’s ready to wake up. So with two naps a day, I need to be pickier about what I use the time for.
This morning, I planned her nap around the two hours that I needed to teach. This afternoon, I’m using her nap to write a blog post.
The only person I *do* call on a regular basis is Yitzchak. Surprised? Don’t be. Here’s what our conversations often sound like:
Me: Hi Yitzchak.
Him: Hi, Chana.
Me: What’s up?
Him: I’m working.
Him: In X.
Me: Ah. How’s it going?
Me: Okay I just wanted to check and make sure you were okay. By the way did you get my texts?
Him: Yes. And I have to go.
Me: Okay talk to you later.
Total time: 4 minutes.
Or how about this:
Yitzchak: Hi Chana.
Me: Do you know where the teething gel is?
Him: I think it’s on the bookshelf.
Me: If it was on the bookshelf, I wouldn’t be asking. [baby screaming in the background] Any other ideas?
Him: No. Did you check the dresser?
Me: Yes, but I’ll check again.
Me: Okay, listen, she won’t let me put her down and I can’t search with one hand. I’ll talk to you later, k?
Total time: 4.5 minutes.
Sounds terrific, right? Here’s one last example.
Me: Where’s the peanut butter?
Him: On the counter. I just wanted to tell you I made the bus.
Me: I saw that, you texted it. I gotta run or else *we* won’t make the bus. Do we have bread?
Him: Yes, we do. I think it’s still in the bag, on the floor.
Me: It is, thanks.
Him: Is Shlomo behaving?
Me: I don’t know what you mean by behaving. . . he’s okay, I guess. Where are you?
Him: At the Central Bus Station. Okay, I have to get off. I love you, okay? I have to go.
Me: Okay. Stay safe.
Total time: 3 minutes.
Who else can I call, if I can only barely spare 4 minutes to talk? No one.
Sometimes I *make* Yitzchak get off the phone, because I need him to be alert. It’s just not safe to talk on a cell phone in the street. You need eyes, ears, and the eyes in the back of your head to be open, alert, and aware of your surroundings. I’m pretty sure Yitzchak thinks I’m being paranoid, or maybe even controlling. But he can’t argue with my logic . . . so he listens.
If you wanted to speak to me, call me up.
I will call you one day, too. When I have babies who take frequent naps, and big kids in school. Or maybe when I have big kids in school, and bigger kids at work or at home with their own kids. On the other hand, when I have grandkids, I’ll probably still be busy . . . or busy again, perhaps . . . helping my kids take care of them. Right?
So perhaps I should say, “I’ll call you when I’m too old to be running after kids?”
Somehow, that doesn’t sound like it’ll work. But it does have a nice ring to it.
There are many people I want to keep in touch with. If I’m not calling, take heart. It’s me – or rather, my kids. It’s not you.
And I wish Yitzchak and myself many more years of running after kids and trying to work while the baby naps.