Life was a lot different before texting. If you are my age (cough cough, old enough to have kids in college), you remember when you were in college and you had to call your parents every Sunday night from the phone hanging on the wall in your dorm room. No privacy and you had to keep it short because, well…long distance cost money. Going a week without talking to your parents was supposed to encourage independence. And build character, right?
However, I can remember sneaking into the dorm room and using that phone at non-Sunday night times when I was overwhelmed or upset or just plain had a crappy day. Nothing sounded so good as my mother’s voice on the other end saying it’s going to be okay. Sometimes, you just need to hear that, you know?
Now, my kids, who are all in college or grad school, can find us twenty-four-seven. I’m not sure that’s good as far as cutting the old umbilical cord. On the other hand, we have a relationship with them that doesn’t entail both of us being stoic like our immigrant forebears and seeing how long we can go without talking to each other. (Except my eighteen-year-old son, who might possibly be fine with that and needs a reminder every Sunday, CALL YOUR PARENTS TODAY, WE LOVE YOU AND WANT TO TALK TO YOU.) Anything in caps, he gets.
The girls are much more chatty. Maybe, at times, too chatty. Sometimes, I get texted free-fall stuff that I can’t or shouldn’t respond to. Such as this from my daughter:
I can’t find someone to cover my shift.
Um, okay, well, what am I supposed to do about that? I can commiserate, maybe send her a crying-your-eyes-out emoji or something like that.
Several hours later, I get another text:
I really can’t find someone to cover my shift.
At this point, it seems that advice is being requested. I think of these kinds of texts not really as needing advice but more as, is anyone out there listening to me? And well, we all need someone to listen to us, right? My response: Start begging. (I hope that was compassionate enough.)
With my other daughter, who is living on her own in another state going to grad school, we share recipes, advice, (Can I use the same bottle of Afrin for another cold?) My answer: (Yes, it’s your own boogies), and text each other during the Bachelor every week. On a first date one time, she even texted me, I’m having a great time on my date! which warmed my heart.
Sometimes—most of the time, I think—they don’t want advice at all, they just want someone to be on the other end when they’re sad or frustrated or upset—or happy. I think of this often in terms of my own mom, who passed away long ago. How many times do I still silently call out to her? A lot. I like to think she’s listening just like she did before countless times.
So yeah, they can text me all they want and I won’t complain. And as long as I’m able, I’ll answer back.