For those of us lucky enough to have a mother we can talk to regularly, the question stands: How often should we call? I posed this query to a handful of my best friends¡ªall of whom are close to their mothers¡ªand each reply was different. Some talked to their mom once per week; others chatted with her every few weeks but texted each day; and one friend never went a day without talking to her mom. With the exception of this last friend, a common vein ran among this group: We all wished we talked to our mothers more¡ªmyself included.
I talk to my own momma about once per week¡ªespecially now that we both text. These conversations are often hours long and something I make time for in my day, as I¡¯m sure she does, too. We catch up on family affairs, I seek advice, and we devote a full 10 minutes to covering the weather. Does every parental phone call require an update on the weather? Nonscientific studies point to yes. And while these conversations are lengthy, they¡¯re never bothersome and always fill me with gratitude. This makes me wonder why I don¡¯t do it more often.
So, for one month, I set out to call my mom every single day.
To be completely honest, I dreaded this assignment¡ªnot because I didn¡¯t want to call my mom, but because I didn¡¯t want to talk on the telephone every day for a month. (I do phone interviews for work all the time, but I¡¯m getting paid for that.) But after my newfound love for human conversation, I learned how to manage my phone time and let my mom know that I¡¯d be calling her every day to chat for about five minutes. Her response? ¡°Sure, honey!! Yay!!¡± My mom loves to talk on the phone, but I learned that she loves hearing from her children even more. Moms are the best like that.
Each day of this assignment, I added ¡°CALL MOM¡± to my to-do list. And even though it was something I had to check off, it was the farthest thing from a chore, and I soon found that it gave me something to look forward to each day¡ªfar more so than cleaning the kitchen or editing a story. Halfway through, my daily call became second nature, and our quick chats were the highlight of my day. My mom liked it, too. Just a week in, she sent me a text that said how much she loved communicating with me every day and that it was so special for her. I felt a pang of guilt for not calling more often for all these years. If I had time to scroll through Instastories, and read Man Repeller on the daily, then I have time to call my mom.
Our phone calls were super short, which worked well for both of our busy schedules¡ªbecause what really mattered is that I got to hear her voice¡ªif only for a few minutes.
On some calls, we discussed our plan for that day; other chats might be about what we were doing at that exact moment and then bid our goodbyes; and occasionally we¡¯d have time for something more meaningful¡ªbut there was never pressure for deep conversation because we both knew it would happen again tomorrow.
One day, we were playing phone tag and it felt sufficient to leave extended voicemails, but my day didn¡¯t feel complete until I had my mom call, so I sleepily dialed her up from bed just to have a quick two-minute chat and dozed off feeling better getting to tell my mom goodnight.
I know that one day I will wish I could hear my mom¡¯s voice and that there will be nothing I want more than to be able to bottle up her contagious laugh¡ªit really is the best laugh I¡¯ve ever heard. As more children move away from their hometowns and farther from their immediate families, and text messages and emails become our main form of communication, it can feel even more lonely and isolating to be far from our families. A daily phone call might just be the cure.
Our time with our parents is often fleeting¡ªI know this. I no longer have a dad, so my mom shoulders the burden of both parents¡ªand she does it well. She¡¯s the parent I go to for advice, she¡¯s the one I call when I need to cry and not feel an ounce of embarrassment, and she¡¯s also my gossip partner. But after calling my mom each day, I learned that there doesn¡¯t really need to be a reason to give her a ring¡ªjust saying hello to her each day is perfectly OK.
Anne Roderique-Jones is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in Vogue, Marie Claire, Southern Living, Town & Country, and Cond¨¦ Nast Traveler. Twitter: @AnnieMarie_ Instagram: @AnnieMarie_