It’s been a fact of my life for as long as I can remember, but writing it down strikes even me as crazy: I’m an adult woman who speaks to my mother on the phone at least thrice daily. The first call of the day, placed either by me or my mom, comes before 8:00 a.m. and clocks in under 30 seconds. It typically goes something like, “Turn on the Today show. Savannah’s pregnant, bye!” (me), or, “There’s a man slashing people in Riverside Park; don’t take Hayden there!” (my mom, looking out for my daughter’s—never mind my—safety). We never say “hello”—that’s a formality reserved only for when we’re pissed at each other.
A mere two hours later, I tend to log call two, using my mom for someone to talk to on my walk home from an exercise class. “It’s me,” I’ll trumpet into my mom’s ear, totally disregarding the fact that I’m bothering her at work. Then, I’ll regale her with mundane tales absolutely no one else in the world but she would care about: the latest developments in potty training; who I’m currently hating on Facebook. Call three might come down around lunchtime, when she has five minutes to kill and wants to provide a blotter of her recent Target purchases. For good measure, my daughter and I also FaceTime her around dinnertime.
A rational person might assume my mom lives in California and we talk incessantly by phone because we miss each other terribly and don’t have the luxury of hanging out in real life. But there is no room for reason in this highly emotional equation: In fact, she lives an hour away on Long Island, and we see each other almost every week, because she watches my daughter on Fridays (my mom is to us as Marian Robinson is to the Obamas). Still, we continue to have a lot, or a whole lot of nothing, to say to each other on a daily basis.
Based on an unscientific Facebook poll, plenty of other grown women feel similarly about their moms. When I asked in a status this week if anyone else spoke to their mother at least once a day, more than 30 women, and a few men, ranging from their 20s to their 40s, flooded me with replies—more than pretty much any other story callout I can remember. “More like 5,000 times a day,” one quipped. More than one said they called their mom every morning on their commute—and sometimes on the way home, too. Another chimed in to say she talks to her mom so frequently, “my siblings call me ‘mommy’s stalker.’ ” That one hit home: Though mothers get a bad rap for calling their kids too much, in our case, I’m the perp: I call my mom so often that when she doesn’t answer, or call back within two hours, I presume her dead. It’s gotten to the point where she issues an advance warning if she, God forbid, plans to be unavailable for a few hours. “I’m going to dinner with Lucille,” she’ll text (yes, we also text, but talking is more fun). “I’m not dead—yet!”
Why do we do it? (I say “we” because it makes me feel less like a demented woman-child to lump myself in with the group.) The modern hook is that no one really talks on the phone anymore, but moms are still all in for it. I have friends who I consider sisters, and we text all day long, but our lives are busy and we’re more likely to schedule a phone date than chat four times a day in two-minute intervals. Moms, on the other hand, don’t really care if you call them from the Sweetgreen line and abruptly say “gottagobye!” and hang up when it’s time to order.
Unlike friends, moms are more open to venting, bragging, and utterly boring calls, too. As my friend Courtney Byrd Metz, who speaks to her mother, Carla, multiple times daily, said, “She’s the only person who’s truly interested in the most insignificant minutiae of my life,” from potential Gilt purchases to parenting advice and irrelevant Facebook nuggets like “the fact that some girl from my grade school who I haven’t thought about since ’92 had a baby.” Courtney’s husband “doesn’t care about that shit, nor should he,” she added. “But Carla does, and that’s why I love her.”
Of course, our endless mother-daughter hotlines aren’t purely motivated by self-interest, and we don’t see our moms just as glorified versions of Siri (although, frankly, that’s part of it). The timeless truth is that I constantly call my mom because she’s my best friend, and because, even though I’m a mom myself, I still need her, possibly more than ever. (My mom is like the lovechild of Oprah and Caroline Manzo from The Real Housewives of New Jersey—fiercely loving, wise, blunt . . . and willing to cut anyone who crosses her family.) Courtney said it best when she said of Carla: “She’s the truest sounding board I could hope for.”
Adult women can seem more acutely aware than their 16-year-old selves that having a mom to talk to—and mercilessly stalk—every day is a gift. “My mom once told me, ‘Do you know how lucky you are that you get to hear your mother’s voice? What I would give to just call my mom one more time to talk to her,’ ” recalled Kim Shea Colongione, another friend who talks to her mother daily. Verklempt, I called my mom for a fifth time to share this anecdote. She agreed that she’d give anything to talk to her late mom one more time; I hadn’t necessarily realized it, but she talked to her mom every day, too. “Mothers still like to feel like their children are children, even if they have children,” she said. And, “moms like to feel like one of the girls,” she added. “We never really grow up, either.” Don’t I know it.
The post I’m an Adult Woman, and I Call My Mother Three Times a Day appeared first on Vogue.