No matter how much you prepare, read books, take birth classes, ask friends and family, or even visualize your life as a new mom, nothing can really prepare you for the new-found Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).
There are a lot of things at play when you've got a newborn in your arms, other than the new physical demands of being a mother. Most of us are not used to spending twenty-four hours a day in our home for a few days in a row (or a few weeks in a row for that matter) with little adult interaction. The start of the Fourth Trimester, or the first three months of your child's life outside the womb, can make us feel disconnected with our friends, families, previous jobs, and personal interests. Our identity takes on a new form in motherhood, wrought with new challenges, and we may experience temporary perplexity.
I experienced true FOMO after my daughter was about a month old. The visits from family and friends slowly dropped from my calendar, and a new normal emerged. There I held the most beautiful creature, but fears of isolation, insecurity, and doubt swirled around me during the silent moments of my day. I found myself browsing social media during the wee hours to spark a connection to what was going on in the world. My heart felt fulfilled in motherhood, but I couldn't shake the feeling of my new limitations. No longer could I act on my impulses because my daughter was completely dependent on me for all of her needs.
While I was pregnant, I thought life would be exactly the same, only I would be toting around an adorable mini-me the same way I carried around fifty extra pounds for nine months. What I didn't realize, was how much I would have to make peace in my own heart with my attitude toward feeling limited. Rather than viewing my new job of mothering an impediment to my to-do list, I learned to embrace it as a new context. My fear was a forewarning for pre-existing discontent with my day-to-day and lack of self-awareness of the things that brought me most joy in life outside of my relationships.
Someone once told me that the "interruptions" to our day by way of our children's needs, are the precise moments where we mother. Motherhood is endlessly sacrificial, this we know. But, because we don't clock in and clock out at the end of our day, it is essential to carve out time to do the things we love, that edify and inspire us. It helps to have patience with yourself and a good sense of humor when things don't go as planned. Some days the greatest thing you will accomplish will be making lunch, other days you will want to high-five strangers at the grocery store because you are just rocking it.
If I could talk to myself, as a new mom with a one-month-old, I would say three things. First, enjoy the present moment because it is fleeting. Babies are only one month for one month, and so on. Second: soul search. Dig out those hobbies and interests that fuel you and try working them into your day. Rather than scrolling your feeds while the baby sleeps, doodle something, bake your favorite cake, read a book you've been meaning to read, or try giving yourself a manicure while you catch up on your DVR. Third, don't be afraid to ask for help. Send an SOS to a friend! Get your groceries delivered! Hire someone to give your house a deep clean. Don't rely on yourself to a fault. You're not a failure if you can't do everything.
Battling FOMO only comes when we accept our limitations, embrace the small joys, and prioritize our personal interests during the rare silences of the day, even at the expense of running the household. The laundry isn't going anywhere, believe me. I hope you gain, as I did, renewal and zeal for the things that make you you so that you may live with intention and without fear.