A Mother’s Phone Call

By: Martianne Stanger

What is it about phone calls and kids?

As soon as my children see me on the phone, it’s as if an alarm goes off in my their systems: “May day! May day! Mom’s attention is not 100% available to us!”

With that, the antics begin.

A little pointer finger pecks at one of my legs doing the S.O.S for “Mommy, Mommy, I need…”  I put a single finger up to signal that I will attend to the child’s need in a minute. As I listen to hold music, a minute passes.  The child cannot wait longer.  The silent S.O.S becomes a patience-piercing verbal one, “Mo-om-my!”

As the whine revs up, there is a change the hold music. I think a live person may come on the line and, thus, shoot the child a “quiet-that-voice-and-stop-interrupting-now” look. The glare is heeded.  The whiny voice subsides.

The hold music does to.  In its place, I clearly hear an automated voice repeating “Thank you for holding.  Your call will be taken in the order it was received.”  I wonder how far along in the pecking order I am.  Moreover, I wonder if the voice is thanking me for holding the line or thanking my child for holding my clothing, for I am now feeling a persistent tug on my skirt.

Exasperated both by the hold and by the peck-whine-tug routine, I look down at my child and about to bark a give-Mommy-some-space order, however, as soon as I see my child’s face, I realize what all the urgency has been about:  Potty help is needed.

So, I soften my face to a smile, put the phone on speaker, balance it on the bathroom sink and go to help my child, all the while praying that a live agent does not come on the line just as the toilet flushes.

Luck is on my side. Hold music returns and a potty accident is averted.

Fortune is not fully mine though, for before I click the phone back to its normal mode it catches the attention of my other two children.  They realize I am on the phone and, as I walk back out to the kitchen, they begin taunting each other as if on cue.

Both their volume and their physicality escalate, so I put the phone down for a brief second to peel them off one another.  Just then, a live person comes on the line.

Not about to allow that live person to think I gave up on the long hold I have been on, I grab for the phone, choose to ignore my bickering children and walk down the hall away from their noise.  That way I have a hope of hearing and being heard on the phone.

My bickering children follow a few steps behind me and so the dance begins. I talk to the agent while trying to correct and redirect the kids through looks and gestures.

The tactic works to a degree and the kids disappear into a bedroom.  I return to the kitchen and with phone cradled between ear and shoulder, poise myself to take down some important information.

Just as I am about to begin writing, I am thrown off balance.  A crying squawk emits from one child’s mouth as that child comes out of nowhere and nearly tackles me while seeking protection from another child who is giving chase.

A cacophony of chaos erupts.  Children cry, shout, whine.  I fumble for the phone that drops into the middle of the their fray.

“One minute…” I call out as I reach for it, praying that I don’t retrieve it to discover a tell-tale dial tone, which would inform me that my chin clicked the hang up button before the phone fell.

“Hello? Hel-lo-o-o? Are you still there… I’m sorry.”  I suck in my breath, hoping for a response.

Relief. It comes.

“You’ve got your hands full.”  The agent states the obvious.

I exhale and realize my hands at the moment are quite literally full.  One on the phone and another on a child who suddenly falls silent at feeling my touch.

“Yes, my hands are full,” I proclaim as I recognize a truth more persistent than my children’s mom’s-on-the-phone antics ever could be.  “And my heart, is, too.”

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