I have substantial talks with my own children–about economics and politics and you name it–but most of our conversations are not that way. Most of my conversation with other scientists are not that way. Sometimes, we talked about science, but a lot of the time, we talked about the weather, sports teams, and what sorts of things we’d been cooking for dinner.
If your mom is the primary cook, the question of what to cook for dinner is not a trivial one. If she is a gardener or if driving conditions can sometimes be bad this time of year, the topic of the weather is not a trivial one. That’s talking about everyday life. Maybe it is mundane, yes, but everyday life is mundane, too. Who knows? Maybe deciding what to have for dinner is one of your parents’ major shared interests!
If you want to talk to interesting people about interesting things, schedule big chunks of conversational time in person. Otherwise, write letters. That’s how substantial conversations, deep conversations, usually take place. Some conversational partners have substantial interchanges when they talk on the phone but a) that is rare and b) those are conversations that were established in-person.
Having said that, if you want to have a substantial conversation on the phone with your mom, all you have to do is to say, “Mom, I’ve have this problem, and I’ve been wrestling what to do with it. My problem is ______. What do you think?” or “Mom, I was having this conversation with this friend of mine the other day, and they think X. I think Y. What do you think?” Then you listen and you don’t argue. Your mother, learning that you value her opinions even when you do not agree with them, will probably look forward to these “less mundane” conversations.
If she is the kind that just sizes up a situation, makes a decision, and goes with it, though, do not expect her to become the kind of person who beats a question to death. From that kind of decision-maker, expect a straight-forward answer, and that’s it. If you do not try to re-make your parents’ basic philosophies of politics and life or their decision-making style, though, and you’ll be fine.
Oh, and learn to care about what your mom says she had for dinner. If it meant nothing to her, she wouldn’t mention it. You might, however, look for something a little deeper to say about it. “Oh, you had X? Wow, you’ve been using that grill a lot. You used to mostly make stews and casseroles this time of year. Are you liking that change?” Maybe she’ll start talking about her reasons for the cooking choices she’s been making, and that could get more interesting.