I’m considering swearing off Facebook for the next few months. Why? It's giving me a serious case of summer vacation envy. I signed on recently only to be welcomed by messages from various mom friends talking about their amazing/exciting/exotic summer travels. One is heading to Paris for a month with her kids. Je suis très jalouse! Another is renting a beach shack in Belize. Que suena sublime! Yet another is cruising the Mediterranean. Serious summer vacation envy!
I experienced a similar reaction over spring break this year as I browsed through photos of friends frolicking poolside in Palm Springs or skiing the slopes at nearby winter resorts. They’re my friends and of course I’m happy for them… but I’m also (I admit) a bit jealous.
As a life rule, I don't believe in comparing oneself to others; it's much too slippery a slope, especially in the realm of parenting. There will always be mothers who are more this or that — more patient, more fit, more organized, more glamorous, more involved at school, more well-traveled. It can be hard not to fall victim to comparisons and no matter how many times you tell yourself it’s not a competition, you can drive yourself nuts trying to keep up!
As I navigate my way through the murky waters of motherhood, I realize comparing myself to other moms isn’t about “keeping up with the Joneses.” It has more to do with a myth of perfection. Facebook is a major culprit because it makes everyone look happy: perfect marriages, well-behaved kids, and luxurious, jet-setting lifestyles. Shouldn't we all have that???
After coming to terms with the fact that I was not going to France or Belize, I took a look at my own summer and realized my plans are pretty great, too. It may not involve a passport or exchange of currency, but I’m experiencing my own brand of adventure.
Every summer, I ditch California and head to North Carolina with my kids for some family time with the grandparents. This year that includes a beach week, a side trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and possibly a historic driving tour through the Virginia countryside. I don’t know if sampling the best BLT in the South compares with sipping vin blanc in Monmartre (although it's close), but I love the fact that my kids are experiencing a different part of the United States and I cherish the time we have with family and friends.
I probably won't be posting all my summer adventures on Facebook. I’m not sure our daily trips to the local ice cream shop would make good fodder — and that's fine. I’d rather read about my friends’ international escapades than write about my own anyway. Maybe what I'm feeling isn't envy after all, but rather a case of summertime wanderlust. The more incredible journeys my friends go on, the better; goodness knows they've earned their escapes. Just bring back a seashell or send a pretty postcard my way, s'il vous plait!