Monday, 5 February 2018

Precious moments and FOMO

I’ve turned down lots of invitations. I’ve made lots of apologies. I’m lucky I’m still getting invited.

While most parents get to spend every weekend with their offspring, I only get half. So every minute of my weekends with my child is precious.

This year is a big year for many of my friends – the year many of us turn 40. But I’m repeatedly turning down invitations because they involve daytime activities without children, and I feel that I should be there for my daughter at weekends.

It’s not about getting childcare. She and I have a supportive family with lots of people who help us out and love spending time with her. It’s simply that if I don’t see her at the weekends, and I’m working four days a week, then when will I see her? Whenever she’s away from me at weekends, the next day she looks up at me and asks, heart-meltingingly: “Why don’t we get to see each other much?” 

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had the conversation “Sorry you've got childcare problems.” Sometimes I bother to explain that it’s no about finding childcare, it’s about being there for my daughter. Other times I just shrug and say “maybe next time.”

Fear of missing out

I’ve been conscious of the preciousness of these days throughout my daughter’s four years of life. As a single parent, there have been lots of occasions I missed out on. But while a few years ago the FOMO would have got the better of me, I’ve tried to look at what I have. It’s a kind of growing up – learning to appreciate the good things in my life and accept that I have to make sacrifices to have them. Mostly I’m OK with that. 

Photo by George via Flickr Creative Commons

For every missed party has been a bevy of beautiful moments – cuddles, tickles, milestones, the funny, profound and downright crazy things she says to me. Family life simply means you can’t do everything anymore. That’s not just something for single mums, that’s all of us. To be apart from her, by choice, on some of the few days we have together feels wrong.

I struggle to work out if I’m doing the right thing. Is this what a good mother does, or am I being a sap? Am I letting down my friends (who will only turn 40 once) and being overprotective? Am I allowing myself to be manipulated by a four-year-old?

Please just keep on inviting me. I'll come when I can.