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I’m an Adult Woman, and I Don’t Call My Mother – Or Anyone – Three Times a Day

September 7, 2016

I wasn’t going to write about the recent Vogue article I’m An Adult Woman, And I Call My Mother Three Times a Day because I didn’t know what to say.


Well, that’s not true. I didn’t like what I had to say and didn’t think 50+ % of my friends would either.

I don’t call my mother three times a day. There are days when I don’t call her one time a day. To be fair, I don’t call anyone three times a day unless it’s R and we’re trying to book airlines flights, but since that happens between 10 and fifty times a year it should be counted.

I am not a phone person. I don’t want to talk on the phone with my favorite people in the world, one of whom is my mother, so this is less about her and more about my relationship with the phone.


So then if I’m so angelically neutral to this issue then why did I roll my eyes quite so hard at this article?

Because it turns out I’m not neutral.

I think there are negatives to a grown woman calling her mother half a dozen times day – three negatives, to be exact – and they start with this paragraph:


A mere two hours later, I tend to log call two, using my mom for someone to talk to on my walk home from an exercise class. “It’s me,” I’ll trumpet into my mom’s ear, totally disregarding the fact that I’m bothering her at work. Then, I’ll regale her with mundane tales absolutely no one else in the world but she would care about: the latest developments in potty training; who I’m currently hating on Facebook.


I think the verbal version of my eye roll goes something like this: um maybe try walking home from exercise class and enjoying a nice, relaxing stroll taking in your fascinating surroundings – Manhattan – one of the most dynamic cities on the planet! Calling your mother to remind her who you are currently hating on Facebook seems like such a waste of brain power, time and energy.

But, I thought as I talked myself down off that soap box, how is that any different from what I do on my walk home from an exercise class: scroll through every single ‘gram on the Instagram that I haven’t already seen in the five times I’ve looked since I woke up?

It isn’t.

We are living in an era of insanely short attention spans and insanely instant gratification. I don’t have to spend a minute of my day focused on anything I don’t want to focus on because I can whip out my phone and text/Tweet/Snap/Read/’Gram. Forget spending quiet time with myself. Forget looking around and observing my world. I want distraction, I get it. I want to dwell on the ideas swirling around in my head and get validation for them from the universe aka Facebook, done.

So in that way I have lots in common with all the grown women calling their mothers three times a day. They fill their minutes with Mom, I fill mine with scrolling and self promotion (and also Mom, to be clear). Neither of us are taking the time to say – do I need to do this right now? Or, more importantly, would I actually benefit from NOT doing this right nowWhat else could I do be doing right now? 

I think that kind of check yourself action is broadly categorized under will power. I don’t think we’re great at it these days. I think that’s a problem.


So that’s reason #1 why calling your mom a million times a day is perhaps a problem.

But here’s where I get back to the mom calls question and start to check myself. It’s hard to find “harm” in a quick chat with your mom outside of this you should be stopping to smell the roses stance. Really what is the harm in calling your mother or father three or five or fifteen times a day? 

I think that depends on two things:

  1. How much you need that phone call
  2. Who you should be calling instead


Re: #1: I believe adult women and men need to be able to make decisions without consulting their parents. Does that mean mom can’t weigh in on your new couch color? Of course not. But it means you need to be able to pull the trigger on buying that couch without your mother’s approval. Does that mean Dad can’t help with a big financial decision? Of course not. But it means you need to know how to help yourself if Dad is busy.

I think there are a lot of people of my generation who struggle with this area. I think many of us have been coddled and helicoptered to the point of a total lack of comfort with independence from our parents. It is lovely to be so close to Mom and Dad that you involve them in decisions like what color should we paint the house? I frequently text my mom and three sisters when I’m having trouble deciding whether or not to buy something as insignificant as a Nordstrom Rack dress (not that a dress could ever be insignificant, forgive me). But that should come from my desire to get their thoughts and feel close to them in a moment that’s special to the four of us (the inside of a dressing room). Sometimes I need a little confidence boost, a little does this look good on me? But if no one responds am I paralyzed? No. I walk away from the dress. I must not like it that much if I can’t make the decision myself.

It can get very complicated to live your own adult life when you’ve put someone else in your driver’s seat.


But let’s say you and your family live in perfect harmony. You have the same tastes. You make the same decisions. There is somehow both complete community and complete independence. I’m not saying this isn’t possible.

But if you are a person in a committed relationship (married, partnered, etc) I think it’s risky. This is the who should you be calling instead issue.

Let’s say R and I are planning a vacation. Together we decide let’s go on vacation this Winter. Now let’s pretend that I immediately start researching and planning that vacation with my mom. She’s not coming, to be clear, but she’s my Mom and she helps me with everything so she’s helping with this vacation. Then I present to my husband all the research my Mom and I did for the vacation he and I will take. Seems fairly harmless, right? Maybe he’s like, “I wanted us to plan this together not you to plan this with your Mom.” That would be fair but minor, at first.

Now let’s say R and I are planning to discipline a child. We have a child and he or she has been through a bout of not so great behavior. Together we decide let’s work on this and figure out some tactics to help our child’s behavior. Now let’s pretend that I consult my Mom and do all the research and then present our findings to R. Again maybe you’re thinking what’s so bad about that? She’s your mom. You need help. She’s raised kids. But R would have every right to say, “Hey I wanted us to work on this together and once again you went to your mom first.” To a partner, that move says my primary relationship was with mom first and it still is even though you’re now my primary partner. I’ve got to believe that wears on a marriage. It would definitely wear on me if the roles were reversed.

Now I feel like we’re a long way from I call my mom three times a day to tell her who I hate on Facebook. Maybe we are. Maybe the woman who wrote this Vogue article just calls for the tiny things. She’s expressing love. She’s maintaining closeness. She’s spending her time like she damn well pleases. Far be it from me to demand she slowly stroll the Manhattan streets when I can’t write a blog post without checking Facebook four times.

But it’s worth thinking about all that other stuff too. I feel like our goal as adults is to find that balance between staying tied to our primary family unit, specifically our parents, and paving our own way as capable adults. And insane as this sounds, I think the cell phone can be a powerful tool in navigating that journey. You?

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