I'm a Busy Mom. Don't Bother Inviting Me. #FOMO
Can you imagine the doctor prescribing two days a week out with your gal pals? I can’t even fathom meeting twice a month let alone sitting in a coffee shop or wine bar with my best ladies Sex in the City style. It’s just not something I make a priority in my life (hangs head in shame). I read a blog post discussing a study on the impacts of improving women's health by socializing with close friends twice a week. I reflected on why a study concerning bestie outings caused me to waver between sadness and relief. Here’s what I pondered:
I crave time with friends, but when free time sneaks into my world I find myself sitting in the garage watching Will and Grace holding my chickens or laying in bed listening to a documentary. I feel guilty making time for friends only to leave my family at home twiddling their thumbs at the thought of making their own dinner and equally guilty knowing people I care about miss the connection of our friendship. I’ve learned an easy answer doesn’t exist.
I feel a twinge of pain scrolling past friends posting pictures of fun times out or at one another’s homes having a gabfest while the kids play nerf wars and watch movies. I missed out. I could have been there instead of doing dishes and watching Ghost Adventures with The Bear. And I slowly see how the friends that once invited me over no longer text as often or extend invitations. They’ve learned I always say no. So I can’t take offense. The whole FEAR OF MISSING OUT (#fomo) thing is more real than I realized.
I know I am not the only one turning down invites and secretly wishing she had more opportunities to bond with friends. I remember being a new mom and barely leaving the house for days. I devised stupid reasons to take the baby out for a walk, to the zoo, or grocery shop. I just needed to be around people. I needed contact. Yet, I actually made very little human contact. I chose places to walk and sit where I knew no one. So I made friends online on social media: vacuous relationships to keep my mind occupied while nursing the baby.
As my son grew older I still felt incredibly isolated. I struggled to meet folks with similar values and experiences. I felt stuck. When The Bear turned one I realized his babysitter and her daughter were my only friends that I felt incredibly close to. I tried pulling in old friends from college or reconnecting with high school peeps from long ago. Nothing truly transpired into an “I’ll come over to your house in my jammies and make myself coffee” kind of way. It forced me to spend time alone. During this time I started really thinking deeply about what I could feasibly contribute to a friendship. I needed authentic bonds with few strings attached or none at all.
I felt lonely. And sometimes still do. It’s hard to explain. I know lots of amazing people. But we don’t hang out. We say hello in passing. We wave in traffic. And I feel terrible about it because I value them; however, I do not invest time in them.
Other moms I know cite the lack of time as the number one reason they do not get together. So if I empathize with this….why do I feel so rejected when I look at Facebook? She made time for HER, why not me? (Talk about whining and self-pity).
Then it occurs to me. I do have some very genuine relationships using social media and my cellphone as a tool. Judge away folks but I need the technology to stay connected right now. Do you know Heather? My bestie here in Greeley? I talk to her almost every night via text while I wait for my sleeping pill to set in. Her message is the first thing I read in the morning. Trying to schedule a lunch date or coffee with her is like trying to learn physics from a claw machine. It’s not happening and you most likely won’t get a prize. Sometimes I tell myself the prize is we genuinely want to make time for a lunch date. That is enough. It’s not personal.
Kristen? She wrote an article for us at Footprints? She is a friend I cherish so deeply I swear I can feel the swells of her heart from miles away. I’d say homegirl is a ride or die for sure.
Susie? She lives in Washington State and we talk whenever we can. She gives me sound advice despite the distance. She knows literally everything about me and doesn’t even see me once a year. I talk with her more on the phone than anyone else.
Therefore, folks I realize I am not missing out. Not really. The relationships I do have are secure, fulfilling and loving. I do not worry about cleaning my house for guests or running from soccer to dinner plans. For some people that is exactly the life they need and love. For me it just does not work. I’m just not going out. That’s the situation here. I need the people that love me to understand I’m in a season requiring grace for my absence.
In this season staying home with my family is very important to me. We are in the delicate place of blending. Family movie night or binge watching cop shows brings us together as a unit. We find balance together by making time for one another. We play fight in the kitchen, snuggle on the couch, and sit in a circle playing UNO. We drive to the mountains to climb rocks and eat pie or feed the ducks at our favorite coffee shop. We practice family things like grocery shopping without killing each other and cheering on one another at activities. We take walks so we can teach the boys the importance of playing in nature and skipping rocks. We go to church to share in our faith together.
This time is teaching us how to be a family. And we need it because custody schedules, inconsistent expectations, and healing from divorce interrupt the flow. We need lots of practice and patience while we come together.
And to be honest it’s not just that I’m in a blending family. I work. A lot. So much so my son asked Santa for me to work less (tears). He needs me home when I can be home. Because friends… for every invitation I decline from you I also turn my son down for events important to him. He misses playdates and birthday parties due to my work schedule. I’m the mom shipping snacks from Amazon to school since I cannot attend classroom parties. I’m the mom always running late for soccer. The one who can’t get him to choir practice reliably on Wednesdays. The one who didn’t get him picked up from school on time and consistently picks him up from daycare at 6:35pm. That guilt causes me to hang my head in a deeper shame than missing martinis with the girls. Missing out on my son’s life feels far more devastating than any other worry.
As parents, I think we silo parts of our lives to manage all the demands. We constantly shift from big picture to managing small crises throughout the day. We seek ways to recharge and muster the moxie to tackle the challenges life presents us so we can snuggle in with our little at bedtime. So we can enjoy the smell of baby shampoo while he nestles his head on your shoulder. We need these moments more than mom time with mimosas. At least, I do.
I may see less people but I am seeing more of my people. Life pulls me away from them too often.
I cherish the opportunity to blend my family with someone else’s (thanks bf). And one day, when working three jobs isn’t necessary and my kids feel good about this whole family thing, I will join you for a mocha and music at some fun hipster joint in Northern Colorado. Who knows we may hightail it to a comedy show last minute or sing karaoke in a dingy bar.
But please don’t write me off because I can’t be with you more. I love you. I scroll on Facebook to see how big your children grew. I celebrate marriage announcements, new homes, and babies. I say a prayer for you when your status changes from married to single or when your dog dies shortly after your mom got sick. I laugh at your memes and sometimes I donate on your birthday.
A season is a season. It doesn’t last forever. In time my priorities will change. My ability to balance a social life and parenting will develop. In the meantime, I’m here. I’m well, tired and busy. I miss you and I cherish you. Cheers.