About a month before my dad’s birthday, I got this weird idea that I should call him every day. This was a difficult challenge for me. I’ve gotten used to letting him call me when he misses me, or I’d just wait until I had something to talk about or randomly thought to call them. When I did call, I’d usually call my mom. (No one has a house phone anymore, right?) So, I wasn’t doing so well in keeping in touch with my dad.
I really don’t know where this idea came from, but I thought, I’m going to try it. I was also slightly curious to realize how long it would take for him to even realize I was calling him every day.
So I started.
After a week of calling him every day and just shooting the breeze, there was a day where he called me first. “What’s this?” I thought. “Did he finally figure it out, that I was calling him every day?”
When I asked him what was up and why he was calling he said, “Oh I just missed your voice. I just wanted to say hi.”
Um. What? So not only did he not realize I was calling him every day, he missed my voice?!
Okay, so we talked. I chuckled to myself. I didn’t know what to do with this information. Was he just messing with me? Was he really not noticing that I was calling him every day? Was he really just missing me that much that he didn’t even notice what I was doing? Should I keep calling him every day even if he doesn’t notice?
Well, to make a long story short, I’m not good at consistency, so it’s a good thing that I started this project with plenty of time before his birthday. Even though I had a few blocks of days where I forgot to call him, I mostly called him every day. Mostly calling him every day is better than what I was doing so I’m going to call it a win.
Ultimately, here’s what I noticed.
- He didn’t change. He still missed my voice and wanted me to call him as much as possible.
- I think he was aware of what was happening but didn’t want to say anything because he’d rather mess with me and, of course, was enjoying the benefits!
- No matter how busy my day was, there was always a moment I could pause and give him a call. Even a 5 minute call made a difference.
- I changed. I started to realize on those days I was traveling or just forgot, I missed talking to him! And there was stuff we could talk about every day, like the nerdy books we were reading and the shows we were obsessed with and this insane political situation we find ourselves in and what we were eating and hopes for the next year and worries and of course, we had lots of things to laugh at together.
- It spreads. I found myself thinking about other people I love that I haven’t talked to as much, like my brothers and sisters-in-law. I started reaching out to them too, rather than just waiting for the random chats online or if one of us needed to call each other for something.
When I initially told my husband this idea, his first response was that my idea was messed up. He is a little more of a purist when it comes to rules than me, so in his mind, he saw me calling my dad every day until his birthday and then coming to an abrupt stop after the big day. Luckily for my dad, I’m not all about the rules. I’ve still been calling him, maybe not every day, but at least weekly.
Being intentional about calling my dad has been great for me personally, but good for our relationship too. We’ve always had a good relationship. I’m lucky enough to have great parents who have always been there for me. But I think that made it easy for me to get lazy. Because I knew we had a good relationship, I didn’t need to do any work on my end of the relationship. Nothing was going to change it either way. Or, so I thought.
Since my experiment, I’ve realized that’s not true. Even the best, most loving of relationships require awareness and intentionality. It takes work on both ends of the relationship to keep it strong. That work does change things for the better. Sometimes when we’re in really good relationships we get relaxed and happy with the status quo, but we miss out on what else we can experience together when that happens.
I am thankful for this renewed relationship with my dad. I think it’s probably good for my mom too because she doesn’t have to hear him whine about missing me as much too. Of course, I need to keep calling her too. That reminds me, I need to give her a call right now