If given a choice, I vastly prefer to talk to someone in person than over the phone, especially for an extended conversation. I suspect that I'm not a good phone conversationalist. I miss the accompanying mannerisms and facial expressions. I'm more apt to consider a moment of silence awkward, so I attempt to fill it. On top of this, I'm frequently switching gears in mid-sentence to address one of my children instead of the caller, making the dialogue even more fragmented.
I'll be setting up an appointment, and before I can finish that yes, Tuesday at 10 would be fine, I instead find myself saying, "Would you please stop licking my leg?" or "Stop hammering your sister."
With enough practice, you can gauge how a mother's day is going by the number of times she deviates from the conversation and the level of intensity and specificity of the interruption.
If she addresses a child with a simple, "Not right now, honey," things are running pretty smoothly in her household.
If it's an exasperated, "I've told you before, you cannot ride your bike down the stairs, and while you're at it, take the handcuffs out of his pants already," well, pray for her.
Just last week, a dear friend of mine called with the wonderful news that she was pregnant with her first child. I longed to hear every detail: the due date, how she was feeling physically, how she was feeling emotionally, the report from her first doctor's appointment. At some point during the call, my children came unglued -- falling off chairs, spilling drinks, annoying each other. I took one look at them and figured my best option.
I locked myself in the bathroom.
Yes, I was going to finish that conversation, even if its duration would be brief. What beautiful irony that I was congratulated my friend on the child she would be bringing into the world while hiding to escape the ones that I've brought into the world myself.