Pandemic FOMO

After over two years of coping with a global pandemic I am dealing with what I have started calling Pandemic FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Over the summer, as the pandemic entered yet another surreal stage -- a stage where normal life seemed to be allowed to resume, as people cast off masks and barely anyone mentioned it, even those who had it -- and I found myself saying yes to everything and in a state of constant overscheduling and exhaustion.

On one Sunday, my son C said to me, "Mummy, on Saturday, you almost lost your mind." I thought, perhaps he has a point. 

Needing more time to watch bees

But yet, it's hard to say no. When you go through over two years of having so many elements of your life restricted, when the world is cast in overwhelming sadness of death and loss, it makes you realize how you have to embrace the good things when you can, be grateful for what you have and not miss a single minute of life. 

Ergo, saying yes to going to two weddings in June -- on the same day. There were friends visiting from out of town, playdates, parties, holidays to plan, and I have something equivalent to a new job. There is a lot going on, not to mention our usual caring responsibilities as a family, for a young son and my mother-in-law. 

I don't regret for a single moment any of the exciting things we've done so far this year, although I am starting to realize that something has to give. As much as I want to seize the day, it is starting to defeat the purpose. Recently on a Sunday, C was having a total meltdown and I felt similar, after another punishing weekend of constant plans. 

I looked at our pre-schooler having a tantrum and suddenly my own recent malaise and exhaustion made sense -- of course he was a hot mess -- I wasn't faring well either, so someone his age with far fewer coping mechanisms was bound to fall apart. 

And as summer has turned to autumn, things have not slowed down, but in fact got even busier. That's why I have been trying to practice building in more down time. One weekend in late summer, after a lovely morning of wandering among the blooms planted in the moat at the Tower of London, the three of us sat in a pub having lunch. The Hub picked up his phone to google tours of the HMS Belfast. 

"No!" I said firmly. "We are going home." 

And so we did. And spent the rest of the day pottering around the house. As I sat folding laundry in the living room while C played with his trains, I felt the happiest I had in weeks.

Until it was time to get ready for the babysitter to arrive, as we had a table booked at the top of the Shard for the Hub's birthday. Old habits die hard.  

I stand by my desire to do things in this life, to say yes, and to seize the moments when I can. The way the world is and has been over the last few years continues to teach me that we must do this. However, these moments don't have to all be dinners in the sky or three exciting activities in one day. 

Small moments can be the big moments. Having no set plans and discovering a new expansive park in London at the end of a tube line can be more fulfilling -- and let's be frank, more restful and relaxing -- which is what weekends are supposed to be for. As the holiday season fast approaches and life doesn't seem to be slowing down in the slightest this is something I'm going to keep working on!   

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