Email Saves Me From My Phone

I don’t like to talk on the phone. I can hardly think of anything to say. If I do, after ten minutes, I’ve said all I can think of and squirm in my seat like a kindergartner doing schoolwork. I remember a dozen things I need to get done and try to quietly multitask. My neck gets kinked severely from holding the phone to my ear with my shoulder.

As someone who has always been able to put thoughts into written words more easily than spoken ones, email saves me. I’m a writer. When I have a moment to sit and reflect, I can remember the things that happened over the past two days: My son jumped on his bed instead of brushing his teeth last night after too much birthday celebration. My husband got mad. I quietly giggled.

My daughter melted down over her math homework. She couldn’t make the connection between the last problem and the previous nine. They were all the same. Why was that one different? I began the verge of a meltdown myself while she fussed at me. Sometimes homework really stinks and I want to cry too.

Those are the things I say in emails that I can’t think to say in a phone call that has caught me off guard. When my mom asks what’s been going on, I say, “Not much.” In the moment, I’m put on the spot. Nothing comes to mind. I need a keyboard to help the words flow.keyboard

I’ve always found emails to be a quick way to connect during the day. A moment to save if I wanted, not like a good phone call (when I have one) that’s gone as soon you hang up. Those good emails, I keep them to savor.

When my kids do something funny, I shoot my husband an email to brighten his day, like the time my son was cracking up because he heard the phrase “booby trap” and repeated “booby” over and over. Or the day my daughter saw a convertible and said, “Oh cool! That car has no lid!” Or when my son drew marker around his mouth, denied it, and then confessed he wanted to be a clown.

When my niece was born, my sister began emailing me every day, updating me about life with a baby and then life with a toddler who demanded twenty kisses every night before bed. Stories I laughed at and loved. When my son was born two years later, I shared my own: the time I walked by the bathroom and my three-year-old son was washing his hair in the sink, the time my son helped my daughter get dressed, the time my daughter said she didn’t love anybody because she didn’t get a bedtime snack. My sister and I have commiserated over the loneliness and heartache that is motherhood and shared each other’s joys.

Our phone calls to each other now sound more like war zones than a conversation: kids screaming, kids in desperate need of a snack right now, kids who can’t find the toy they haven’t played with in three years. We can’t even finish a sentence. But our emails help us stay connected.

And emails don’t interrupt, like when both kids need me at once and the onions are two seconds away from burning. One child has just fallen and scraped her knee and the other just slammed the door and yelled something, tipping you off that he is the one responsible. The phone always rings at just that time.

Sometimes I’m just better at conversation through email anyway. When I talk on the phone, I’m not always good at witty banter or saying what’s on my mind. I’m tired. There’s no awkward silence in email. My thoughts sound good in my head, but when I say them, I realize maybe I should have gone through a few drafts and revised before I said that out loud. At least typing can be deleted. And after the day I’ve had, I go through a lot of revisions.

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37 Comments

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37 responses to “Email Saves Me From My Phone

  1. I HATE the phone too. I converse with my old college roomates every day over email. It’s so much easier. No kids screaming in the background. We can respond to eachother at our own time. It’s nearly impossible for moms to get the same moment of time free during the day. Emailing keeps us all sane!

    • I know. It can be quiet and calm in the house and the minute the phone rings, the kids are at my hip saying, “Who is it? Who is it? Who is it?” I can’t have three conversations at once. It’s impossible.

  2. I don’t enjoy talking directly to people the way I once did. I totally understand.

  3. I’m definitely with you on this. Texting and email is the best way to keep in touch with me. I never remember to call back but a text is way easier to reply to.

    I even make appointments online to avoid calling someone on the phone!

  4. I’m definitely not a phone person. My mom likes to talk my ear off when she calls. I prefer texting or emailing, it’s quick and simple.

  5. sj

    Oi, I can’t EVER have a phone conversation without the kids thinking it means they can just run around screaming. No phone for me, no thank you.

    • It’s like an invitation to chaos. She’s a Maineiac had a great post about this recently, about talking on the phone with kids around. I was writing more about email preference over the phone but it’s because of that same point: kids are terrors when you’re on the phone!

  6. K. Eley

    Ditto. I much prefer e-mail over the phone. I’m not much of a talker. It never fails that when I do get on the phone, everything goes chaotic at once. If I’m on e-mail, I can stop and help my daughter with that math problem and then get back to my e-mail. Hard to do that and hold a phone conversation.

  7. Outstanding! I feel the same way and for all the same reasons. I much prefer writing to talking. I need time to think and revise. I stink at witty banter. I hate silences and tend to rush in to fill them up by babbling on about nothing. I never remember all the moments you mentioned unless I’m writing. And having phone conversations when my kids were younger (and sometimes still) was plain impossible. Great post!.

    • Those little moments are definitely lost in normal conversations. I never remember them. It’s always been something about a connection with my hands and brain over my mouth and brain with me. Maybe a wire is lose?

  8. I am right there with you. I need time to form my thoughts into something more than just fragmented bits of information overlapping the white noise that is two boys playing/fighting in the background. I always think of something funny, witty, or important that I wanted to tell the person on the other end of the line after the call has ended. Email, while I used to think it was too impersonal, has become my go to form of communication.

    • Yeah, some people complain they’d rather talk to me than email, too impersonal I guess, but after I hang up the phone, I do often think of things I could have said. I guess I could keep a list! Wonder if it would sound like I am reading?

  9. lisa

    Hmm, that’s why you don’t call. Yeah right. Just for punishment I’ll make sure you’ll never find your teeth again.

  10. Thanks for sharing this. I thought that most people would think that phone is better than e-mail. Not me. I’ve hated talking on the phone ever since I was little. I rather e-mail or meet up with people.

  11. Yes, it’s private and keeps you intact when you don’t always feel that way.

  12. I’m an email-er too. Sadly, I find that I don’t communicate with too many people who don’t email. We’ve lost touch. And then came my blog and email is less frequent too.

  13. I’m with you on the phone aversion and my conversations with my mom sound remarkably similar to yours. Hmmmm – perhaps we’re related? I love your email exchanges with your sister – so loving and connecting. Great idea (and as always, a beautifully-written post!)..

  14. OMG… you just took everything I think out of my head and wrote it down for me. Thank you! :>

  15. I agree totally, but from a different perspective. Friends are now becoming “contacts” and, to me, it’s due to electronic communication over face-to-face. A blogger I follow, Raam Dev, also mentioned this exact thing http://raamdev.com/2012/friends-are-more-than-contacts/. It’s crazy how things are changing.

    • Interesting post. I have to say, I’d be disappointed to find out a friend considers me only a contact. I keep that term only for business use and use it rarely. I’ve found that even through my blog, I consider people my “blogging friends.” To me, the way I contact them makes no difference. 😉 Thanks for the comment, John.

  16. 2nd to e-mail is texting. Calling someone is always a last resort for me. I am horrible at thinking on my feet.

    • I never text. I still have a flip phone. It would take me a century. I finally read some of my texts the other day and saw texts that were a year old. Oops.

      • E-mailing is still my top preference, but I am slowly becoming a text convert. Now that I have the new iPhone, with Siri, who will supposedly let me speak my texts, this may become a more regular thing!

  17. Yes! Absolutely agree with every word. It kind of freaked me out a little that you are so talented yet are nonetheless so much like me in your
    anti-Edison/pro-Jobs sentiments. That was a compliment. Don’t call me.

    • I’m seeing a trend. But I’ve always felt that deep down, people who are writing minded are just more observant, more quiet, and have less of a need to socialize and be with people all the time. (Am I right, people?) I love to be around people. I get along very well with others. But I am very content to sit quietly in a room with them and I’m happy to stay home too.

  18. It’s like me and bedtime stories! I can write em, but i can’t just tell em. thank goodness for my keyboard, i’m so much more likable with the ability to edit myself.! 🙂

  19. The only email that I regret writing is the one I send in a moment of dismay. Try to avoid those. Person to person discussion about something difficult is so much better.

    • It’s usually bad for me either way! But I think you’re right. Sometimes it is difficult to express emotion through email. People take things out of context or misread tone. It can be difficult to convey that unless you use your voice.

  20. This post hits home for me! I try to talk on the phone as least as possible. I think emails are nice – like mini letters almost. They are a little more personal than a text, too. How cool is it that you and your sister have such a great email correspondence! 🙂

  21. I hate the phone and think better as a writer than a speaker too. I adore email, Facebook, blogging and other things that help me communicate well, as opposed to the awkward convos I engage in on occasion.

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