The Phone Call, Volume 6, Number 1 (Fall 1979)

The Phone Call
Personal Essay
Nancy Hart Metheny
Terre Haute, Indiana 

Based on a recent experience of the author, the following is “addressed to those who sometimes struggle, as I do, to define for themselves and explain to others the position of a full-time homemaker.”

“Hello, Nancy?  This is Susan, Susan J.”

(Susan…six years ago, in my pre-college, pre-marriage, pre-baby era.  Our senior year in high school…six light years ago!)

“Susan!  Hello!”

“Of course, it’s Susan M now, but none of the old gang remembers that.  How are you?”

“Well, fine.  It’s nice to hear from you.”

(There were about a dozen of us that Golden Year, counting the guys.  We all stayed close for a year or two after graduation.)

“Don and I are back in town for the weekend.  We’re both still students.  I’m hoping to get into med school.”

“Really?  You’ll make it, Susan, if anybody does.”

(Now, that sounds intelligent.  Was I really one of the ringleaders in those fast-paced after-party discussions we used to have about Nixon and McGovern, gun control, right to life?)

“So, how’s the little mother?”

(Ugh.  I cringe when I’m called that.  Does a woman grow shorter after she has a baby?)

“Things are going well for us.”

“I’ll bet Ryan’s growing really fast…keeping you busy?”

(He is, and so are a dozen other things.  How do I tell her about my…what does a housewife call them?  Projects?  I do more than chase Ryan and wash dishes, but it never fits in a three-line job description.  Do I say, “I have a really neat filing system?”  Or, “I wrote the Sunday School Christmas program?”)

“Ryan is growing like a weed.  He even walks a little, if we stand back and plead hard enough!”

“Sounds fun.  Well, what are you doing to keep busy?”

(Is she pressing me for an answer?  Maybe just running out of questions.  I’ll make a stab at this.)

“I teach a group of girls in the youth program at our church.  We’ve been making a film original script, all our own photography.  It’s really been fun.”

“Oh, that helps.”

(Helps?  Helps what?  PASS THE TIME?  Does she mean it “gives me something worthwhile to do”?)

“Tell me what you’ve been doing, Susan.”

“I’ve gone back for my second degree.  Microbiology.  Don’s in computers, and he works right on campus.  We get to see each other several times a day, sometimes for lunch.”

“That would be great.”

“Listen, it’s dinnertime and you’re probably busy.  I just wanted to say hi.  It’s time for another reunion, isn’t it?”

“It is, Susan.  Thanks for taking time to call.”

“Take care of that family.  Goodbye!”


(Hmm.  I have the feeling that something was missing there.  She was right about one thing—I am in the middle of fixing dinner.  And there goes Ryan, crawling toward the wet cement outside.  Go, little mother—to the rescue!)