“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.
But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
– Mark Twain
Well. It’s been another hectic week in my 20s. Hate to say it, but my Mom’s forewarning about all the sh*t I would face was actually 25% accurate. She left out the part about sugar daddies and peeping toms, but never failed to mention the identity crisis that grows with each passing day.
In fact, we can all get some really great guidance from Mom. If only it were possible to guide her to focus on the relevant advice (and less on the neighborhood gossip). It’s like, who cares about Sue-at-the-bottom-of-the-hill’s new body building routine. Definitely not your daughter who is experiencing body building challenges of her own. TMI.
There’s this Pavlovian effect my mom’s name has when it appears on my cell phone. But instead of drool, it’s sweat.
Incoming call: Mom.
My internal barometer: oy vey.
It’s like my insides anticipate the hour-long-irrelevant-story-time that’s about to ensue:
…Honey. You never call!
…Mom, we spoke yesterday.
…Just did my nails, have you heard of this new Essie color, all my students are using it.
…No, because I’m broke and haven’t gotten my nails done in 5 years. Hey Mom, I gotta go—
…When I was your age…
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my Mom, she gave birth to my nearly 10-pound baby-self. True story. But with her one-hour commute from work each way, this means she has a solid two hours of free time to chat about what she ate, who is engaged, divorced, and/or pregnant. Isn’t that what Facebook and Instagram are both for? (She has accounts on BOTH now!)
These are hours I could be using to find a job with health insurance.
I have, however, devised a way to get off the phone with my mother in under 55 minutes! It’s saved me many panic attacks and nervous ticks:
1. Answer Mom with a smile. (This is more for you, so you don’t get those awful frown mark)
2. Tell Mom you have 5 minutes! (Lay the groundwork, plant the seed — can’t say you didn’t warn her!)
3. Multi-task during her unnecessary stories, berating and/or family gossiping to avoid panic attacks. (If you half listen, you only allow half the below-toxic-level-poison into your soul).
4. Just agree with her, it takes less energy and keeps the conversation hurtling towards the finish line.
5. Use trigger words — you know what they are. (My mom hates “rash,” “taxes,” and “moist.” I’ve actually inherited an aversion to that last one, myself).
6. When she is either satisfied that you’re not in crisis, tired of being placated, or grossed out by the trigger words, she will actually wrap things up herself. (Feel free at this point to remind her that you have unlimited friends and family minutes — maintaining the illusion that terminating the phone call is always her idea).
7. Hang up with a smile — it’s a good way to keep the endorphins flowing, and the aforementioned wrinkles from forming.
I’m not a doctor, but the above seven steps have kept me away from depression and deep into a solid relationship with my mother via phone.
*NOTE: The above does not apply to FaceTime or Skype. Like, not even close. Be careful. I tried. And step 3 gets you busted. Tell Mom you’re naked and take the call via voice call only.
You are very welcome.