It used to be my greatest fear on conference calls: being caught unmuted. We used to laugh about it nervously—the three moms on the call out of seven team members.
“What if they hear me scream my head off at my kids?”
“Did seven people just hear a toilet flush?” (It wasn’t me, I promise! I was taking my kid to the bathroom)
I could never quite relax while on mute during conference calls. So I would (and still do) conduct compulsive safety checks six or seven times an hour: *6 This line is now unmuted *6 This line is now muted. All quiet on my front.
Every so often, one of us forgot to mute after making a comment, and the others tried to alert the unsuspecting dragon-lady before she breathed fire or blurted out something totally irrelevant to meeting agendas and event publicity. One time I was all sing-songy at the dinner table trying to get two kids to eat up. At least I was in a good mood.
After a silence that is not so unusual on our calls and some vague comments on a lot of background noise, one brother gently dropped the hint.
“I think… the person who I had the pleasure of visiting ... and whom I ate a delicious meal at her house …”
The one time a mom scolded her kids loudly on the call, she dropped off the call and sent a frantic email to the other moms kicking herself and asking how bad it was. Um, not so bad? Beware of the two-edged-sword that is the mute button, conference-call moms. Yeah, we shouldn’t be shouting at our kids in the first place, but it can be pretty rough juggling a bunch of kids during an hour and a half conference call. Don't sing any lullabies either, you know, just in case.
I cuddle with my attention-craving girls on the couch, storybook in one hand and phone in the other. Trying to follow the gist of a conversation on fundraising strategy, I slowly read a story about farm animals waking up early in the morning. Mid-sentence, I freeze.
Whew! I did not just mooooo on a conference call.