Every weeknight after dinner, I ask my mom the same question, “Mom, want to watch Inside Edition now?” I’m always hopeful she’ll say yes, but 9 times out of 10 she’ll respond with, “Sure sweetie, but can I make a quick phone call first?” Ugh, I think to myself, Maureen “Phone Calls” Kelly is back at it again. When she says “quick phone call” what she really means is that she is going to call all four of my siblings, and it won’t be short phone calls in the least bit. And when she pulls out her Bluetooth so she can chat hands free in the house I KNOW Deborah Norville is going to have to wait because we won’t be watching Inside Edition until the next day.
Any time I see her on her Bluetooth I have flashbacks to my college days, talking to my mom on the phone. My mom loves her 5 kiddos and she was always very good about calling us while we were away at college. On the rare occasion I would call her first, she greeted me with one of two responses: The first being, “Hi sweetie! Can I call you back in about 15 minutes? I’m eating a Dove Bar!” (When a mom chooses ice cream over her own child, that can damage the child’s ego a little bit, just saying from experience) And the second response was “Hi sweetie, can I call you right back? I want to use my Bluetooth so I can work at my desk while we chat.” I obviously never saw her face when she said this since we were on the phone, but I am 100% certain she winked.
Don’t get me wrong, I was happy that she was able to multitask while talking to me, but I hated the Bluetooth solely because of what I liked to call “The Bluetooth switch.” At the end of every phone conversation with my mom on her Bluetooth she would end by saying “Ok, now I am going to put Dad on” and what followed I can only describe as sounding like if someone pulled the audio tapes from the show Cops, and only the parts of the show where they were in the middle of a chase. There was always a lot of static, a lot of strange noises and it always sparked the same conversation:
Mom (talking to my dad): Mike, Kathleen is on the phone. Here, I’ll let you use my Bluetooth. [static and inaudible noises begin as the Bluetooth goes from my mom’s ear to my dad’s ear]
Dad: Oh hell! I can hardly see the damn thing it’s so small! [static ensues]
Mom: No, Mike, honey, you’re putting the Bluetooth in you ear wrong. It’s upside down. Here let me help you. [more inaudible noises]
Dad: Mo, I don’t think this thing is working. [screams “Hello” into the phone numerous times]
Mom: No, Mike, sweetie it’s on. Just adjust it in your ear a little bit. There you go.
Dad: [yells into the phone] KATHLEEN CAN YOU HEAR ME?! KATHLEEN?!
Me: You know I could hear before, but I think you blew my ear drum yelling into the phone so I may go deaf.
Dad: Ok, perfect. Hold on now I’m going to put Duke on.
While I could have set my phone down, gone to the library to study, then met my friends for a drink at the bar in the amount of time it took for my mom to transfer her Bluetooth to my dad’s ear, I always enjoyed those conversations. Growing up, we were fortunate enough to have our mom stay at home with us, and we all maintain a close relationship with her to this day. She was very much a laid back mom, a “cool” mom if you will, and I find it a miracle that she did not go crazy being with 5 lunatic children every day.
Each night after dinner we would start running around the house as if we just drank Red Bulls, which I find a miracle in itself that we had that much energy seeing as my mother fed us dinner portions that were just barely enough to sustain life.
While we caused a lot of trouble through the years, she hardly ever got mad at us. In fact, I’ve only seen her get really mad a few times. Once being a couple of weeks ago when they didn’t have the right amount of Hawaiian rolls she wanted at the grocery store. She flew into the house like a bat out of Hell. “Ugh I am so mad! Of course they don’t sell 12 packs of Hawaiian rolls at the store anymore! You can only get them in packs of 4 or 24! I feel like calling the company and complaining! It’s a marketing scheme is what it is, trying to rip off the general public!” I had to hose down the trail of fire she left in the hallway after she came in.
The second thing that made her very mad was a canoe trip she took with my younger sister and her Girl Scouts troop back in 2009. She may not be able to remember our graduation dates, or what she had for dinner last week, but she can tell you every single moment of that Girl Scouts trip seven years ago. And she will tell it to you with the same anger and passion in her voice as she did the day she returned from the trip. They say people are never the same after a traumatic experience such as war or prison. But those people have never been on a Girl Scouts canoe trip. They don’t know what it’s like. My mom saw things on that trip, I know she did, because she was never the same after that. I think it’s safe to say she can cross “Girl Scout Troop Leader” off her list of possible careers if she ever decides she doesn’t want to be a nurse anymore.
In addition to keeping her cool, she always encouraged us and complimented us even when we didn’t deserve it. Whenever one of us took a bad school picture she never told us we looked awful. She gentle said “Oh no, that’s not a bad picture of you, your lips just looked a little chapped.” My mom telling us our “lips were chapped” was code for “this is actually a terrible photo of you and I definitely won’t be framing it.” But she never said that, which was very nice of her. And whenever we would get upset because we studied very hard for a test but a classmate did way better she would give us a hug and say, “EQ over IQ kids.” Which meant, “Yeah, you kids are pretty dumb and I know you’ll never be the smartest kid in the class, but your personalities are ok.”
So while I do get a little irritated that we fall behind schedule with Inside Edition because of her phone calls (I need to stay up-to-date on all the celebrity gossip) I try to remember that she is making those phone calls out of love. And maybe one day I will move out of my parents’ house and she will be calling me to chat. But that’s most likely a good twenty years down the road. Thanks for being a cool mom, Mom. Keep those Bluetooth calls coming.