Hello Friend (or Family, or Coworker, or….)!
These days, you may have noticed I’m not responding to your text messages in a very timely manner. Is it rude not to reply to a text message quickly?
Am I ignoring your texts on purpose?
Here’s just a few reasons why I, or anyone else with young kids, might not reply to your text:
My mom-brain is mush
I read your text message and meant to respond, but I got sidetracked for one second and the real estate in my brain that was dedicated to text message response was quickly occupied by something else.
It might have been something important, like burning dinner (again), chasing down a toddler with a Sharpie, or intervening in a sibling fight-to-the-death, but truthfully, it might not have been.
The fact is, since having children, my ability to focus has been severely compromised. The old me used to be extremely reliable and forgot almost nothing. My with-it-ness has fallen with each child and now, as a mom of three boys (with one more on the way), I’m starting to be more like the dog from the movie Up (“squirrel!”).
My phone is in Witness Protection from my kids
I try not to use my phone when my kids are around. I could pretend it’s because of my commitment to being a present parent, reducing screen time, etc. but… liar, liar, pants on fire.
It’s actually because I don’t want to endure 40 requests from my toddler for “Baby Shark” and “Monkey Banana” (that’s the monkey version of the Baby Shark video, which is just as terrible and obnoxious, possibly even more so). That’s what happens the second my toddler locks eyes on my phone.
You might be thinking, “Well, so what? You’re the parent – just tell your kid ‘No’ and be done with it.”
–To which I would reply: You’re right, I do tell them “No.”
But you’re also wrong, because then we are far from done with it.
My youngest is two. Two does not like the word “No.”
Two does not care if “No” is the proper answer.
In fact, Two doesn’t give a rat’s @$$ about anything except what Two wants.
Two will voice his displeasure by screaming, crying, stomping, and otherwise carrying on for 20+ minutes in an attempt to turn that “No” into a “Yes” (or, just as acceptable to him, a “Fine dude, whatever, just take it and stop shrieking at me!”).
So while I’m not afraid to put my foot down and hold the line, sometimes I’d just as soon save myself the misery and leave my phone in my purse or pocket. Out of sight, out of mind is the only thing keeping this train on the tracks some days.
I was driving
I may have seen your text message come across my screen while I was sitting at a stoplight, because lately it seems like I’m always driving someone somewhere. However, I don’t text and drive because I like living.
I’m also a big fan of not accidentally killing other people on the roadways (call me crazy…). This means that by the time I got a chance to respond to your text message, I completely forgot about it (because my brain = mush; please refer back to Reason #1).
I don’t know anything
If you asked me a question, there’s a good chance I didn’t know the answer at the moment. Even something as simple as “Are you free for lunch next weekend” is not a question I can answer easily.
I have to write everything down. I have reminders for my reminders. A lunch date means I need to check the sh*tshow that is my family’s calendar. Between appointments and activities for three kids and two adults with two jobs, there are seasons when reading that calendar is like trying to decipher The Da Vinci Code.
By the time I check everything out, the text message has completely slipped my mind because, once more for the folks in the way back, my brain is mush.
On a related note, Heaven forbid your message require I confirm things with my husband. If that’s the case, you should triple your response-time expectations, at a minimum, because hubby takes waaaaay longer to respond to questions than I do.
If I forward him your question at work, you know, where he’s working, he’s probably not able to address it then. At night, by the time we finally get all the kids to bed and are able to have conversations that don’t involve, “What’s that smell” and “Who peed on the bathroom floor,” we’ve forgotten. His brain is mush too.
Expect an answer sometime between next week and never, give or take a month.
My phone is on silent. Or lost. Probably both.
This happens all the time. I’ll switch my phone to silent for one specific reason and then forget to switch it back for days.
Back when I used to talk on the phone, I’d notice something like this more quickly. In this phase of life with kids, phone chats are no longer a regular thing (see the end of this post for details), so it’s anyone’s guess how long my phone can stay in stealth mode.
During one of these on-silent spells is also when the phone is most likely to go missing. Yes, sometimes I misplace it, but if it’s missing for more than a few minutes, that’s usually the work of a toddler mastermind. I’ve discovered my cell phone in storage bins, play kitchens, the trash can…
If it weren’t for the Find My Iphone App, I’d have been forced to return to a wall-mounted, corded telephone years ago, when my oldest started walking. Even so, occasionally the app freezes and I’m left searching for the phone the old-fashioned way (cursing and muttering through the house for hours).
So what do you do when your text remains unanswered?
Fellow moms in the trenches usually know and understand all of these challenges. When one of us fails to respond to a message for hours, days, even weeks, we think nothing of it. When they finally do respond, they don’t even need to apologize or offer an explanation: we get it.
For our friends and family without kids, or who have grown kids: when someone doesn’t reply to your texts for a while, please don’t take it personally. Like the old break-up line goes, it’s not you, it’s them—only this time, that’s actually true!
One final note: if you’re thinking that these text messaging problems are a good reason to call… think again!
Sure, sometimes the response time on texts may be subpar, but it saves all of us the joy (*ahem*) of having a conversation like this:
“Hey! So good to hear–Stop that! Mommy’s on the phone. Don’t hit your brother! – from you. I know, —I said STOP THAT! Where are your pants?!—It’s been way too long – Oh my gosh! Why are you completely naked? What’s that smell? DID YOU JUST POOP ON THE FLOOR?! –I need to call you back.
(Spoiler alert: We are not calling you back.)
Shout-out to the friends and family who know we love you no matter what and no matter our (craptastic) response time. You’re the real MVPs.
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