Hello? Hello? Are You Listening?

When you’re a mother your telephone conversations sound something like this:

Mother #1: hello?

Mother #2: hi – I just wanted to call and talk to you about the current health care debate

Mother #1: Oh, I know did you watch CNBC last night?

Mother #2: I did, and I really thought, Tommy! Tommy! I told you to not hit your sister. SARAH! stop hitting your brother! Who wants to lose a privilege? Sorry about that – let me see, yes, I liked what they were saying about universal coverage but was concerned about the tax implications and you?

Mother #1: Well, I didn’t see the piece on CNBC but NPR was interviewing the CEO of a pharmaceutical company and, BILLY! BILLY! Put that knife down.  Yes, Emma I will wipe your bottom. Sorry, okay, well NPR was discussing how the reform might impact malpractice insurance and the availability of doctors.

Do you see how that works? The side conversations with children and punishments dolled out are respectively ignored and the conversation proceeds seamlessly.  Neither party offended at the break in conversation nor distracted by the requests of the children in the background.  And yet, if this same conversation were held between a mother and a man — any man — it would sound like this:

Mother #1: Hello?

Man: Hi, I was wondering what was for dinner tonight


Man: I’ll let you go, you sound busy.

Busy? Of course I’m busy. I’m always busy. I’m a part-time working mother of two. The only time I’m not doing three tasks at the same time is when I’m asleep. If you insist on my complete undivided attention on the phone then please plan on calling when my children are 18 years old. I’m not sure why women can follow this phone conversation phenomenon and why men seem to instantly short circuit like a Microsoft hard drive that is trying to run too many apps, but they do and it is frustrating.

As a mother of multiple children (and yes, I’m afraid you need to have more than one to make this happen) my multi-tasking abilities have reached that of Ninja-level.  All those teenagers who think they are special because they can drive and text – Pshaw! That is nothing.  I can cook dinner, assist with spelling homework, pack lunches for tomorrow AND text message all at the same time.  I can wash hair in the bathtub, wipe somebody’s bottom, AND conduct a phone job interview all seamlessly.

What is it about women that makes us able to juggle so many tasks with little problem? Is it biological or did we develop this skill out of necessity? Would a man also be able to multi-task with such ease if he was a single dad? I have no idea but in the meantime I think it might be a good idea for me to start utilizing my “mute” button on my telephone.

2 thoughts on “Hello? Hello? Are You Listening?”

  1. OMG, it drives me absolutely crazy when I’m talking to my girlfriend, trying to have a conversation and her children (two boys, the same ages as my own two sons) constantly interrupt with fighting and whatnot, which they weren’t doing just prior to me calling her. I swear they wait until you’re on the phone to act up! The reason it drives me nuts is that my kids, for the most part, don’t do that! They’ve been taught from early on that it’s just plan rude to interrupt. Well, that and the fact that I’ll lock them in their rooms if they act up. LOL!!

  2. I agree, that kids who chronically and repeatedly interrupt are rude. However, I do think all mothers do this sort of thing to an extent. Even if were not talking to our kids we are opening juice boxes, reaching for toys, pulling up pants, etc, etc. And it just feels as if men find all of that extra commotion in the background far too distracting to focus on the conversation while mothers seem to gracefully balance both worlds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *