Nobody ever remembers the telephone conversations I conduct from the shower, the text messages I answer in my sleep, the calls I pick up on the first ring while staggering beneath grocery bags filled with stuff requested in text messages I scan while pushing a shopping cart.
I'm not asking for a math prize or anything, but once I answered a series of texts at 12:35 a.m. to discuss the implications of the Fibonacci sequence. I'm pretty sure it was last night.
I take calls in my downstairs office that come from upstairs bedrooms where the teenagers believe room-to-room telephone communication is as normal as ordering Pop-Tarts over the internet. Because why wouldn't you?
But my semi-heroic availability for supply wrangling and problem solving will never be part of our family narrative. It's the unsung kind of semi-heroism. I get that. No one wants to hear a song about last minute requests for poster board or emergency Nutella runs.
Still, it rankles me to hear the story that has sprouted in its place. In this version, I am The Mother Who Never Answers Her Phone.
"You never answer your phone," my son complains from California, where he has left 8 voicemails for me in 15 minutes. "I was at work," I say. Approximately 16 minutes have elapsed since his first call.
"Where is your phone?" he says. "You need to put it in your pocket and turn the volume all the way up."
"I'm not wearing cargo pants," I say. "What is your emergency?"
It rings three more times before I pull into the driveway.
"You never answer your phone," she says as I walk in the door.
"I'm here," I say. "What do you need?"
The number of calls, e-mails and texts I manage to answer is not worth mentioning. I am not even going to mention it. It would be like mentioning that I just walked in the door from work with an armful of groceries when the relevant fact is that people were hungry 10 minutes ago.
I'm not really complaining. When your firstborn leaves for college, every call home is like a valentine. Roses are red, violets are blue, I need money. Also I dropped a weight on my iPhone.
My daughter's text updates are a little slice of sssoMETHINGGG. I don't really know what she's saying a lot of the time, but I'm pretty sure I need to buy poster board. Or possibly Nutella? KthnxbyeLOL.
I set a special ring tone on my phone so I would know when one of them was trying to reach me. It sounds like chirping baby birds. It was so sweet when I heard it the first time. I may have smiled.
But sometimes it sounds as if I am hatching chicks in my purse. What the fuck can they need now?
Whatever it is, I am on it, whether it is a wee hours discussion of the Fibonacci numbers or an emergency iPhone replacement plan.
Did you know the fibonacci numbers show up everywhere? Like they're in pinecones. Pineapples too. Anything that starts with pine. The girl is babysitting and wants me to keep her company by text.
I am asleep, I reply. Will ponder tomorrow.
Ponder now, she says. So I do.
from the telephone archives: Mommy's Customer Service Center and Wine Bar