By: Martianne Stanger
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.”