It just happened again. I had the same conversation with one mom as I’ve had with several others as summer is ending.
“I just feel like we didn’t do enough,” she said.
I responded with “Oh, I’m sure you did plenty,” but as much as I can try to convince someone else, I’m having a hard time convincing myself that I really made these last few months memorable. The kids and I headed into this summer with a bucket list of fun, and as I sit here looking at that list, there are numerous things we didn’t check off.
We didn’t go to the Arch. We didn’t get to Sky Zone. We didn’t make it to Holiday World. Never mind the fact that we accomplished other things on the list including Six Flags, the zoo, Cardinals games and several water parks, because somehow it’s easier to focus on the stuff we missed rather than the stuff we enjoyed.
Maybe it’s because every time I open Facebook, some other family is doing something else fun. Wasn’t it just yesterday they were on vacation and today they are at Red Robin having burgers and Shirley Temples? Didn’t they just put in a pool but now they’re cruising to Alaska? And all this as I sit here telling my kids we can’t do anything today because we just did something yesterday.
I wonder if it will scar my kids that we didn’t have an official vacation this summer. Yes, we went on several different long weekend baseball trips to Memphis, Wisconsin Dells, and Chicago, and sure, we stayed at one hotel with a water park in it where they went down slides for hours, but we didn’t stay at an all-inclusive like the folks I’m seeing on Instagram. And what makes me a really bad mom is that none of our little trips included every person in my family. We had to divide as I took two kids to one tournament while my husband took one to the other. I should have figured out a way that we could all be together in one room.
And a trip with my whole family isn’t the only thing I didn’t make happen. I’ve seen friends online who managed to not only travel with every member of their family, but also take a couples trip, a girlfriends trip, and even a family trip with another family. Huh? How is it that they were able to make all those things work but we didn’t?
Perhaps my friends and I wouldn’t worry so much if there weren’t constant reminders being shoved in our faces of what we’re NOT doing. I talked to my husband the other night about what summer used to mean to me as a kid. It wasn’t about bucket lists or where I’d get to vacation — because there were no expectations or social media comparisons. Summer meant meeting my friends at the pool every day, maybe camping with my cousin, and riding in the car for 2 days to visit my grandma in North Dakota. I didn’t think those things could be anything less than awesome because I didn’t know there were any other options. But now that I’m an adult and I’m seeing what everyone else is doing, I’m wondering if what I’m doing is enough.
I hear people use the term FOMO — fear of missing out — when they see people doing fun things on Facebook and wish they were there. But I think what’s even worse (and what so many of us have) is FOBO — fear of being ordinary. We don’t want to be the only ones who are living normal lives — who are not doing elaborate things. The thing is that the majority of people are doing things throughout summer that we DON’T see every time we glance at our phones. They’re hanging by a public pool, they’re taking a long weekend trip or two, and they aren’t always able to accomplish a family vacation with everyone in tow.
What I have to convince myself (and you other crazy moms questioning yourselves should do the same) is that what’s ordinary for some is different than what’s ordinary for others. As life changes, priorities change. We missed a few things on our bucket list because we ran out of time and money, but one of my most memorable days with my daughter this summer was never even on that list. We drew with $1 chalk on the driveway on a random night when we had nothing planned, and she loved it. And we chose to take several weekend trips this year because baseball means the world to our boys right now. They would never opt to miss their travel tourneys in order to spend a week on the beach with us, and there’s just not enough time off work for us to do both. It doesn’t make me any less of a mom for not being able to do what others did. It just makes me normal.
So friends, next time you feel like you’re not giving your family enough, close your laptop or put down your phone — get rid of FOBO. Because what’s best for our own families’ needs at this moment in time is exactly what ordinary is.