An Underrated Mother's Day Gift: Teaching Your Mom or Grandma to Text

Alex Fitzpatrick
Even though you'll still owe them a phone call

I know well that the top requirement for being a good grandson, as any good Jewish boy will tell you, is to call early and often. And yet I screw up. A lot. I get distracted by life’s day-to-day demands and let too many weeks slip by without a few minutes of catch-up time. And even when I do call, I’m all too likely to pop open Twitter or Instagram or check my email while I chat, meaning my attention is split, at best.

But something happened recently that improved my relationship with my grandma more than I ever expected. “Ma,” as I’ve called her since I first learned to speak, learned to text. And not just the occasional, one-word typical grandma-text, either, but full-blown back-and-forth conversations — with lots of heart emoji. (She doesn’t use Bitmoji yet, but that seems inevitable.)

What’s particularly great about Ma’s newfound texting habit is that it’s created a conversation that never truly ends, and that each of us can pick up on when we have time, even if those moments don’t overlap like they must in a phone call. I can shoot her a message when I’m on the bus to work, and she can get back to me when she’s up and about. This has always been the best part of text messages, of course — but getting the random grandma “I love you” text from Ma is an unbeatable instant mood-booster.

To be sure, texting can never replace talking with Ma. You just can’t get that heartwarming, makes-you-feel-like-a-kid again laugh in a text. There’s something deep in our brains that connects us with the voices of those we love in a way the written word can never emulate. That’s why I still to this day listen to saved voicemails from my grandpa, who lost his battle with cancer several years ago. But texting let’s you keep your loved ones very literally close at hand.

So if your mother or grandmother still hasn’t gotten into texting, there’s no better time to teach her than this Mother’s Day. It’ll keep both of you closer — even if it’s no excuse for you not calling.