My phone pinged. Come to the beach tonight! Sunset + drum circle.
I wish we could, I typed back. But we’re all exhausted. Another time!
This small interaction was a real shift for me. You see, I am recovering from an affliction called Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).
I’ve always been one to look over my shoulder to see what others are up to. I had no idea that becoming a parent would amplify this drive to keep up. I want to be “that mom” – the one who bikes around town with her cheerful kids, makes homemade popsicles for the block, and goes on cocktail-infused girlfriend weekends. Other moms are pulling this off, seemingly without breaking a sweat (social media never lies, right?)!
‘Tis the season to have FOMO
Parenting has introduced me to activity FOMO, school FOMO and talent FOMO. But summer, oh summer! This is the ripest climate in which FOMO breeds.
That season of ambitious camping trips, sunset paddleboarding, and family adventures (dozens of which you have probably viewed on Instagram today). Am I doing enough? I wonder.
The answer: probably not, but how the heck can I? That brings me to that pesky thing called reality. My finances don’t support a Tuscan adventure (thanks, Vancouver). My daughters are wonderful creatures, but on a whiny day a walk down the block feels like a Sisyphean task. The introverts in my pod (two out of the four of us) sometimes resist my social initiatives. And sometimes, I’m *really* tired (because, everyday life). When my longings and ideals are met with resistance from real life limitations, missing out is almost a given.
Talking back to FOMO
There was a time when FOMO had me saying yes to everything. FOMO sidles up right next to us, murmuring the word “should.” I should be more adventurous. I should host parties more. I should work less. I should be milking every moment of this summer.
There might be some merit to these, but shoulds tend to provoke guilt more than inspiration. Whereas before I might “should,” I now ask myself: “what do I need most right now?” Sometimes, after hours of sitting in a chair, the answer is fresh air and trees. Sometimes I get this through a hike in the mountains; other times it’s a walk to the local park. The answers to this question have inspired me to take up winter sports, invite friends over for dinner, and save up for overseas travel – but have also led me to cancel plans and stay home.
Having children hasn’t changed what I value – I will always prioritise nature and community – but I have also come to value making this work with my family’s strengths and limitations.
As for my tendency to compare and keep up, I now adapt my inspirations to my reality (and, every so often, it works the other way around). I want to pay attention to what excites me and find a way to make it happen, even in a modified form. If we’re honouring our values within the confines of reality, what exactly are we missing out on, anyway?
Guest post by Elana Sures. Elana is a mom of two girls aged 6 and 10, and a clinical counsellor. Find her at www.elanasures.ca