I think voice mail is pointless - because I have caller ID, if someone calls me I just call them back. I figure that if they called me, they want to talk. I'm likely going to be calling them anyway, so why waste the time with listening to voice mail. Its rare that I actually even listen to a voice mail immediately after it was left on my phone. Pretty much the only time I listen to a voice mail immediately after it has been left is if I don't recognize the number. Consequently, I tend to have many messages in my in box.
Yesterday, for example, I got a call from a number that I didn't recognize, so I waded through the 8 or 9 other messages to figure out who had just called me. Most of the messages were from people telling me to call them back. But, about 3 messages in, there was one that was slightly different - it was from my 5-year-old daughter Grace.
It was a cute message - it started by her saying that she had called me to play a joke. I remember that day about a week ago, when I had caught her in the car (luckily safely parked in the garage) with both the land-line phone and my cell. She's been busy learning phone numbers, and apparently when I had stepped away for a few minutes, she decided to test this new-found knowledge. I remember being angry with her (rightfully so) because she had gone outside without letting me know.
So, as I listened to her cute message, I smiled. She sounded so sweet and funny - and I guess I was impressed that she understood well enough how to call a phone number without adult help. I was sitting at work, smiling as I listened to her sweet voice explain how she was tricking me. I even welled up a bit, thinking about how sweet she sounded. But as the message went on, I heard my own voice come on. Heard myself asking her what she was doing in the garage, and when she didn't answer (because of course, she was trying to play a trick on me) I heard my voice become angry. I sounded harsh and mean. I felt my eyes well-up again, only this time they were burning with tears of shame and sadness. I was very ashamed of how I sounded talking to my daughter.
Granted, she should not have been outside without an adult, but I did not have to react so harshly either. I felt horribly about it all day. In fact, I couldn't wait to see her that night, and to tell her I was sorry. And when I scooped her up into my arms to tell her how much I loved her, she actually didn't remember the incident. I hope that is because it really wasn't that big of a deal to her, and not that I yell so much that the incident didn't even stick out in her mind. Either way, it was a bit of a "wake up" call for me.