The FOMO of a Working Mom
In our family, I work out of the home and my husband works from home. He’s a solo-preneur and always has been, and it’s been amazing that he can make his own schedule. Since we’ve had kids it’s been a life saver, and he arranges his time so that he can volunteer with the kids’ school and take them to their after school activities. He’s super dad and I am forever grateful that he’s so present.
I like my job. I like the work I do, I love my team and it gives us the stability and benefits that his work doesn’t offer. I had to get over working mom guilt a long time ago because I know this is how our family works best right now, but it’s still hard. At school I feel like the phantom mom. I rarely get to do drop-off or pick-up, because I am at or on my way to work. I’m never available for the volunteer shifts, and I don’t have the mental or emotional capacity to take on a role that would require evening commitments. My husband does all of it, so when I occasionally appear at school I have to introduce myself…again. I was at a party earlier this year that was all local moms of kids of varying ages, but most seemed to know each other. It was only when I was introduced as the wife of “Christian, head of the safety patrol” that I felt like I belonged.
Lately some feelings of FOMO have been creeping in. Forget creeping, they’re crashing through the door. On school days, when I get home after work, my little fam have already been in their after school routine for several hours. They’re in their stride and even though there are cheers and hugs when I come in the door, I still feel like I’m stepping into their space. I’m like the person who arrives late to the party, and while everyone is glad they’re there, they have yet to acclimatize to the party vibe.
These feelings have gotten stronger since we hit summer vacation. My vacation days have worked out this year in such a way that I don’t have a ton of summer days off with the kids. So now when I come home from work they have been in their pattern all day. Some days that pattern has involved a lot of disagreements and frustration, so my appearance clears the air and makes everything better. But some days they have stories of the day they’ve had, and the adventures they’re planning for the days to come. I’m so grateful that they have their dad and that they get this time, but selfish me feels left out and with a massive amount of FOMO.
I crave time with my family, but it’s also hard, coming home after a busy or stressful day, to flip the switch right away and be totally present for them. I need to decompress, to de-stress, and let go of the day. If I haven’t been sleeping well it’s even harder. And although it seems counter-intuitive, when the FOMO and feelings of disconnection kick in I tend to withdraw instead of leaning in.
It’s getting more and more apparent that time moves so quickly, and I feel like the days and years are slipping by. When the kids were really little it didn’t seem to be as big a deal to go to work, because they had no true sense of time and didn’t know how long I’d been gone. But now they just know that mummy isn’t here for most of the day. It’s just a thing. Occasionally my son will forget and assume that I will be home, and seeing his face when he realizes I have to go to work the next day is soul-crushing.
I can only assume if the roles were reversed this might be how my husband would feel, but I feel that for some reason it’s harder as a working mom. There are societal expectations that, no matter how antiquated and wrong, still pop up and try to question our choices. I feel guilty when I tell people that my husband does 95% of the cooking. Like even though I have been working outside the home all day and he has a flexible schedule that allows him to prep a mea, I “should be” doing the cooking. Even though I don’t like cooking and he loves it, I should be doing it. Trust me, our family eats a hell of a lot better with him managing this part of our lives, but I still hesitate when I tell people. That’s a whole other blog post waiting to happen, about why we downplay the parts of our lives that are actually working well…stay tuned.
We’re not in a position yet that I can work from home, so I need to figure these feelings out. (And no, even when that day eventually comes, I likely still won’t do much more of the cooking.) I need to step back and look at my schedule and priorities, and eliminate the unnecessary. I need to make sure my self-care is in check so that my stress is under control and that when I arrive home, I am fully THERE. Make sure my sleep is on track, that I’m getting my workouts and that I am managing my time and energy effectively.
I know this is a #firstworldproblem and that I have a lot to be grateful for. But I also know that if I am feeling something, then there’s a good chance someone else out there is feeling something similar. Momming in the world of social media can be a great source of community and also a source of isolation and comparison. I firmly believe we have to share these things so that we know we are not alone. Maybe, just maybe this will connect for someone.
In a world with so many things to do, kids to manage and pandemics to worry about—just kidding, thank god there’s only one of those right now—let’s find one thing to count on that will help you focus on yourself when things are tough.
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