Ghosting? Nope. It’s Called “Motherhood”


A few weeks ago, I sent a text message to a friend with a few questions about an upcoming gathering. A couple of days later she replied with her answers and started her response by apologizing for “ghosting” me. I chuckled to myself and assured her that I wasn’t worried or offended by her delayed message. I knew she wasn’t ghosting me; she’s a mom.


Ghosting, according to Google, is “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.” If, for some reason you might not be familiar with what it’s like to own a cell phone while also having children whose lives you’re responsible for, don’t worry, your mom friend is probably not ghosting you. She’s just a mom, and here are three possible reasons why she may not be getting back to you as quickly as you’d like:

1. Her phone is in lock-mode due to a child trying to guess the pass code incorrectly too many times.

Yes, this is real. If you’ve ever gotten your pass code wrong, you know after a few tries the phone locks up for one minute. If, however, you have a child under the age of four who puts in the wrong pass code over and over and over, the phone will lock for 60 minutes, and eventually be completely disabled. So, yes, she saw your text about what she wants you to pick up from Starbucks; the problem is she then handed her phone to her toddler so she could finish the conversation with her older son’s teacher in the school hallway, and now she will be unable to respond with her order before you hit the drive through. Not ghosting you, just living the mom life.

2. One or more of her children has developed a case of “Momaphoneaphobia.”

Momaphoneaphobia is the fear of not having the mother’s attention while she is texting or talking on her cell phone for any number of minutes; sometimes even seconds. The child may or may not be aware that they have this phobia, however, as soon as mother’s phone makes a noise indicating a need for her attention, the child (or children) may immediately respond with one (or all) of the following behaviors:

  • Drawing on furniture
  • Spreading slime into the carpet/couch/dog/sister’s hair
  • Cutting said slime out of sister’s hair
  • Pouring water from a tall, full water cup into a much smaller water cup
  • Experimenting with trying to play multiple DVDs at the same time
  • Crying, screaming, vomiting, etc.

Because of the mother’s need to then respond to the child’s symptoms, her promise to “call you back,” may happen at a much later time than originally planned. Again, no ghosting happening here, just a lot of rage towards whatever kid gave out slime in his birthday goody bags.

3. Her brain replaced the reminder to respond to your text with the reminder to buy children’s Tylenol and tampons at this store this afternoon.

Seriously, we moms have about 34 tabs open in our brains at any given time. There’s a very good chance that your text or call came in at a time when there was simply not enough space to hold the message. Here’s how you can help us out: If you need an answer, just send another text. Reminders are our best friend. We hate forgetting to get back to you, but we also hate having to use the postnatal maxi pads shoved to the back of the bathroom cabinet. Also, our kid won’t swallow the liquid Tylenol, so we have to remember to buy chewables.

Our brain decided those needs trumped your text message about the name of the restaurant with the really good tortilla soup and erased our memory of the conversation completely. Please, just send the text a second time.

We want to be on the ball. We want to have our ducks in a row and be able maintain the response time we had when we were young, well-rested, and rocked a Beyoncé ringtone. But that’s not our life any longer. We’re slower and have more responsibilities to keep track of. We promise we’re not ghosting you. We’re simply waiting for our phone to unlock while scrubbing slime off our couch.

Mom on cell phone

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Amber is wife to her elementary school crush and mother to three kiddos, ages 10, 7, and 4. Having recently moved to Portland from California, Amber is embracing her “new normal” as she navigates parks in the rain (bring a towel), the line outside Pip’s Donuts (it’s worth it), and where to find good Mexican food (still searching). As bio mom to her two oldest and adoptive mom to her youngest, special needs child, Amber understands and appreciates the importance of “mommy-time." Amber is also a grad student and soon-to-be Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapist. She shares the highlights and gems of what she's learning on her Instagram: @learnandliveproject.