Imagine your phone rings at your desk at work. After a quick glance at the caller ID, you decide not to answer right that second because you are up to the tip of your nose in a project you have to get out by 6pm. A few seconds later, your cell phone lights up and vibrates. The caller ID tells you it is the same caller. You try to mentally decide on a stopping place you can get to in your work so that you can return the call, but before you can figure that out, the little red light on top of your blackberry indicates you have a voicemail. You clear the screen so the blinking light doesn’t distract you, but before you can put the phone down again, you get a text message. Same sender. You roll your eyes but try to focus again on work. Your desk phone rings again and the people in the cubicle around you chuckle a bit. “Two calls back to back? We know who that is,” they all say, smirking. You pretend you aren’t mortified as you stalk out of your office to return said call. But not before a mutual acquaintance calls or texts to tell you that your electronic stalker is trying to get in touch with you.

It’s kind of annoying, isn’t it? To not even have the chance to answer a message before another is left. To feel your electronic leash yanked on at someone else’s leisure. And it makes you somewhat indignant, right? All, I-pay-this-bill-and-I-will-answer-messages-whenever-I-damn-well-please thankyouverymuch.

Now if this were a man, you all would be telling me to get a restraining order, right? Because really, who needs to call someone that much? Habitually enough that co-workers notice a pattern, even. It’s absurd. Is there any need for this kinda behavior? Especially when history has proven that it is NOT in fact an emergency OF ANY KIND? At some point it kinda veers from mildly annoying to rather creepy.

Now imagine that this person is your MOTHER.

This is a common argument my mom and I have. She calls me. I don’t answer for whatever reason. Before I can call back/answer a text/check a voicemail, she has called me again. And again. And sent a text. And had her boyfriend send a text.

What in all the fuck?

It is never an emergency. Ever. Nor is it usually all that pressing, other than the fact that she would desire to talk to me RIGHT NOW, despite whatever I might be doing.

Like, oh, I dunno, napping for example.

If you were a 26 year old living, breathing embodiment of quarter life crisis who works two jobs 6-7 days a week, shouldering a decade long battle with insomnia and depression and an unnatural level of stress who didn’t drift off to fitful sleep until 4am despite being completely zombie-walking tired the night before, and STILL waking up at your customary 9am, you might decide to take a nap around noon, when you finally get so bone tired that you are sick to your stomach. Luckily, knowing that your beloved black.berry, while convenient, is also the center of all things ratchet from your friends, as well as the source of the occasional the psycho dial from your family, you have the foresight to put your phone on silent.

And then you wake up to double digit missed calls, multiple texts, a few voicemails, the last of which is a breathless declaration that your mom is on her way across town to your apartment RIGHT NOW.

All because you took a three hour nap.

This happened in real life. Hand on the Bible. Of course there were tears and accusations of me being mean and those mother proclamations we all get when we are being guilt tripped about simply wishing to be treated like an adult. But honestly, I don’t find calling her on her unreasonable paranoia and invasive contacting reason to be branded the enemy.

Really, could you imagine if she had gone to the police?

Mom: I started trying to contact my 26 year old daughter three hours ago and have not heard from her.
Officer: Three days?
Mom: No. THREE HOURS. We had tentative, vague plans and she hasn’t said anything…
Officer: Three hours?
Mom: Yes.
Officer: Ma’am this coffee has been sitting on my desk longer than that.


I’ve never been a mom. So I don’t know what it’s like to worry for your children’s well being, no matter where they are. Or to imagine all the kinds of crazy could befall them when they are out in the world. But honestly, if motherhood pulls you down into this sort of wild panic after your kid who is damn near 30 going radio silent for 3 hours to take a nap on a Sunday afternoon, please put me on the do not contact list.

I love my mom but she has no boundaries. None. Not with me. I try very hard to tolerate her and to try to see things from her point of view. But she is not the type of person who responds well to setting boundaries. She is not the person that can hear you saying, “This is unacceptable for me,” without skewing it into, “This is a personal attack on you.” Which, as far as I’m concerned, are her issues to work out.

But I ask that there be respect for my time and my preferences. I ask that if I repeatedly ask her nicely not to call me back to back like she is some crazy, jealous ex-boyfriend, that wish will be honored. Or at the very least, she not try to make me the bad guy for no longer asking nicely after she has ignored my calm requests.

There are certainly other, deeper issues at play here that I don’t wish to delve into. But I am I out of my mind here? Seriously, mom readers, do you do this to your children?

Either way, I need to move.

5 thoughts on “Contact

  1. My mom does the same thing. I've trained her a bit over the years, so it's not as bad as it used to be. She pissed me off so much one time that I went on a 2-week “no speaking” hiatus. The sun rose and set everyday, and at the end of the hiatus, we were both alive and she realized that she doesn't have to panic if I don't answer the phone or don't return her call right away. Especially for a couple of hours.

    But she still has her moments, and I'm even closer to 30 than you are. I guess it's one of those “mom” things. Another reason I'm cool on joining the club anytime soon.


  2. Hell's nawl you ain't wrong. Period. I don't care who she is. When you set a boundary, that's that.

    I just finished teaching my 3rd graders about boundaries. I explained very clearly to them that if ANYTHING makes them uncomfortable and they ask the person to stop it, the person should. If a person gives them a hug (which we had already classified as “safe touch”) and they don't like it, they can say no and they can expect said person to never do it again. They get it, your mom should be able to get it, too.

    Really, the bottom line problem is that having boundaries just doesn't exist in society anymore and folks have the real audacity to get testy when you try to have some. You can't be shouldering all of whatever has your mom all… whatever we call this situation.

    Carry on with precisely what you are doing.


  3. Not a mom, but my mom used to call back to back and leave VMs and the sort…She won't up and show up at my apt though…but still I had to bend and after call #2 just shoot her a txt that says, “ later” and that seemed to satiate her insanity.


  4. My little girl is too young for this to be an issue but I can't imagine this EVER being a problem.
    My mom liked to stay in touch once I moved out but not to that extent.

    An old roomie's mom was very much like you describe your mom and she sounded exasperated as well. She would complain about it before we lived together but once we were under the same roof and I witnessed it I was floored.

    It took a good while (didn't happen while we lived together) of her putting her foot down (trying any way) with her mom and a few big blow ups for the apron strings to be cut.

    I don't think you're out of your mind. Your expectations for communication with your mom sound mighty realistic to me.

    Good luck!


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