Marge Fenelon

“Mom! You’re worse than we are!” my 19-year-old son exclaimed. He’d caught me text messaging while we were shopping together.

“But I have to find out how Matt’s doing,” I defended myself. Our oldest son had just had an emergency appendectomy and I was worried about how he was managing after surgery. Texting seemed to be the quieter, less intrusive way to check up on him – much better than his mom showing up at the house he shares with 6 others guys or calling him while he’s trying to rest.

I did have to chuckle at what Luke said, though. From the beginning my husband, Mark, and I had fought the new technology of cell phones and text messaging. We saw them as impersonal and addictive. Slowly, we caved in and got cell phones ourselves. It wasn’t long after that we found ourselves texting just like our kids.

I would still argue that text messaging can be impersonal and addictive and I fear what it will do to our grammar and spelling (or lack thereof) as a society, but I’ve discovered that there are certain advantages to having that technology accessible, especially to busy moms of older “kids”.

With two already out of the house and the third standing in the doorframe, it’s become more and more of a challenge to keep the Fenelon Clan vital and to maintain contact with my very over-scheduled adult children. Since they’re all college students, they’re usually either in class or at work – neither of which are opportune times to answer a phone call.

So…I text them. I’ve set up the Quick Notes feature on my cell phone to send a variety of “checking up” messages, like “How’re you doing?”, “How was your exam?”, “I took you to Mass with me today!”, “Feeling better?”, “You taking your meds?”, and yes, “I love you!” and “I miss you!”. I’ll also send a reminder on Feast Days, Holy Days of Obligation, and Clan events. If they’re doing well in general, I’ll make sure to check up on them once a week. If they’re ill or under particular stress, I’ll do it a couple of times a week or even daily until the situation improves. Occasionally, I’ll send a humorous little quip or riotous family memory just to give them something to chuckle about. Sometimes they message me about something they can’t speak about aloud because of where they are or who’s around.

Of course, texting could never adequately take the place of genuine human contact, but I’ve found that it isn’t the huge, devouring monster I once thought. Not if one keeps it in check, that is. Surely it can be carried to extreme, and I know plenty of folks who do. On the other hand, being able to keep in touch and relay important information to family members at various locations and with varying schedules and obligations can be a real unifying factor in a culture that seeks to tear families apart.

I’m grateful to Luke for poking fun at me while I was texting in the store. It was a good reminder to me not to let text messaging become an obsession and showed me that he actually does listen to what I tell him. It made me think about when, where, and how much I text. I can see the danger of being swept away by the current of technology, but on the other side of the stream I’ve found great benefit in being a Texto-mom.

Topics: Culture , Current Events , Family , Motherhood

Marge Fenelon is a Catholic author, columnist, and speaker. She's the author of When's God Gonna Show Up? and When's God Gonna Call Me Back? (Liguori Publications) and a regular columnist for the Milwaukee Catholic Herald. She and her husband, Mark, have four mostly-grown children and are members of the International Schoenstatt Movement. Visit her website at www.margefenelon.com

View all articles by Marge Fenelon

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December 18, 2014

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