There are 3 types of people in the world — those who call their mother every single day, those who never do, and those who fall somewhere in-between, like me.
Last Friday I attended a Jazz concert after work. Upon arrival I was seated next to a fashionably dressed woman from the States. It turned out she was one of those chatty folk (unlike me) who readily share details of her life.
Between sets, I heard about her latest travels. She showed off a pair of trendy earrings she had purchased that day. She described an altercation with a bank teller — how she got angry and was frustrated due to language difficulties. She mentioned she had a book published and it turned out the translator was a colleague of mine. She fished for gossip (without success).
It is interesting how when people feel comfortable with you they assume, based on superficial similarities, that you share a similar outlook. This is often not the case. If you met me in person you would notice I don’t freely give away information. Even my closest friends have to dig to find out what is going on in my life.
It’s ironic I am saying this to a group of strangers here on Medium! At any rate, I’m a polite listener most of the time.
But I digress…
How often do you call your mother?
Of all the unsolicited tidbits shared that evening, one struck a chord with me. The woman mentioned several times how for the last 30 years she called her mother twice a day.
I didn’t comment (naturally) but when people tell me that they call their mothers every day I am inclined to be incredulous. What on earth do they find to talk about so often? I call my mother for a catch up every 2–3 weeks. Sometimes more, sometimes less and it is more than adequate.
I sense there are three types of people in the world:
- Those who call their mother every single day
- Those who never do.
- Those who fall somewhere in-between, like me.
Before judging, please note I am on very good terms with my mother. I host her on annual visits to Tokyo. I fly home at least twice a year. I call on birthdays and Mother’s Day etc.
Between social media updates, family group texts and emails we are well connected. I just don’t have the custom of calling frequently — certainly not every day. This is not exclusive to my family. I am not a phone chatty person, or a chatty person in general.
Out of curiosity I goggled how frequently adults (beyond college-aged) should call their parents.
According to half of all Americans, once a week isn’t enough. Nearly half of Americans think an adult child should call their mom at least a few times a week, including nearly a quarter who think they should call their mom daily, according to a news CBS News poll for “Sunday Morning.”
It appears I am in the lower quartile with room for improvement. Sigh.
Still, I’m aghast at the thought of calling home on a daily basis. That feels more like an obligation or a chore than a genuine gesture. Bordering on codependency even.
It depends on the personalities involved, but I have a feeling “never calling home” is something few people would fess up to. Assuming you come from a non-dysfunctional family, it indicates you don’t fit a standard template. But why should “daily calls” be the gold standard held up for how families operate in an idealized world?
Next time I call home I should ask my mother how often she would like me to call. I probably call enough as it is, but I appreciate that she won’t be around forever. At the same time I can also suggest she call me on occasion too.
It requires give and take in families to maintain a healthy relationship.
How about you? How often do you call home? What is the right balance from your perspective? I would love to hear what others think.