More!

“What are we going to do today?”

There is an expectation. An expectation on both our parts, my son’s and mine. An expectation of fun, of adventure, of newness, of doing…something.

I have created this need for more, more, MORE. This pressure.

I read or hear about the things others do and wonder, “should we be doing that too?”

I watch as friends bustle about, trying to fill their kids’ days with fun and excitement and every activity they can possibly cram in to entertain, expand, enliven their lives.

I take it upon myself, all of it, the pressure, the expectation, the feeling that I am somehow less, less of a mother maybe? Or enjoying life less than I could be? And so I try to incorporate into my days the interesting, inspiring things that others are doing.

This on its own I don’t think is a problem.

Life is, after all, meant to be lived, hopefully to the fullest. It’s short, you know, life. And why not get out there and embrace it and try all the things that you want to do, that make your heart beat faster in thrill and glee, that make your smile crazy and bright and big? And if you can bring your child along in this dance with adrenaline, excitement, so much the better.

Right?

Unless of course it becomes a kind of manic necessity. An addiction to do more, faster, better.

Unless it puts pressure on you to the point that you can no longer feel worthy, no longer feel you measure up against those others who seem to be doing so much more, no matter how much more you do yourself.

But the thing is, they are many and you are one. How can one person expect to live the lives, the experiences, of all those around them? You can’t. You will drive yourself nuts, you will exhaust yourself if you try. And you will be so busy doing, that life will fly past. Too quickly.

You will also bring your kids down this manic path with you. Creating in them the constant need for thrills. Expectation. An inability to make their own fun. They will become blind to the simple things in life that should also bring joy.

Like addicion, the manic activity becomes the norm, and then you have to up the ante to the next level, and then the next, to feel alive, to feel you are truly doing something, rather than not living, being lazy, watching life pass you by.

There is value in boredom. And boredom, real boredom, not just the absence of manic activity, is so rarely felt these days, so rarely reveled in. Boredom breeds creativity.

Like kicking a habit, I have been trying to seek boredom, for the whole family.

I still instinctively think, “ok, the weekend’s coming up, what are we going to do?”

But I am trying, just a bit, to follow that with a ciritical eye. Do we need to do anything?

Do I need to invite people in at the drop of a hat because someone else I know does that?

No. Our situations are different.

Do I need to hike the hills nearby, because someone I know does that every Thanksgiving weekend?

No. We are doing something else this weekend.

Many friends have boats and cottages and I watch as week after week they share pictures on Facebook of themselves, their kids, their friends enjoying drinks and the water and each other. I feel a pang of longing, of regret.

Wait. What do I have to long for and regret? I have my own life, my own wonderful, happy, lucky things. We’ve been to Maine and Boston, and will be going to Tuscany and South Africa for goodness sake. What business do I have longing for anything more?

Social networking clearly feeds the addiction. Thankfully, for me at least, social networking is not an additional addiction. But its happy, glossy pictures and status updates certainly feed the adrenaline/excitement addiction.

Advertising, too. Advertising cleverly trades on these feelings of inadequacy, of needing to be doing what everyone else is doing. Advertising is there to tell you to get out and live more, do more, come to their zip line course, fly in their hot air balloon, ski their slopes, buy their boat – don’t just sit there!

Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing any of those activities, and there are definite benefits to doing them rather than “just sitting there,” a bump on a log, or couch.

But it is important to consider these ads just as critically, in just as detached a way, as I try to consider Facebook updates. Both are fine, they may give you some ideas, but you can’t do it all, and you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to try.

If you do, you are missing out on living a healthy and balanced life. And you are teaching your children to do the same.

Now, I just need to pause long enough to listen to my own advice.

 

Written in response to today’s daily prompt: Have you ever been addicted to anything, or worried that you were? Have you ever spent too much time and effort on something that was a distraction from your real goals? Tell us about it.

 

Others’ thoughts on addiction:

Daily Prompt: Can’t Get Enough When I’m With You | Awl and Scribe

What it feels like to be addicted | The Magic Black Book

I’m A Daily Promptaholic | The Jittery Goat

buttered | yi-ching lin photography

My Toy Box | Kate Murray

Addicted to ‘love’ | alienorajt

Daily Post: “Can’t Get Enough” | The Adventures of Rain Dance Megan

Can’t Get Enough | The River Mom

Daily Prompt: Can’t Get Enough | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

Surfer Rob’s outlook on addiction | Rob’s Surf Report

Obsession | A Wandering Writer

10 thoughts on “More!

  1. This is a really good post. A couple of things that struck home with me:
    So-and-so is doing this, and they’re doing that, “should I be doing those things too?”
    “They are many and I am one.”
    And then, of course, when you talk about how everyone’s circumstances and styles are different and why should we be trying to change and act like everyone else if we’re perfectly happy with the way we’re doing things.
    Top quality post here. Really valuable.

    • Thank you so much, Randee. I’m so glad, and touched, that you think so. And thank you for sharing with me what you liked in particular. Always nice when something that really means something to you resonates with others too.

  2. You definitely don’t have anything to be sorry about, going to Tuscany and South Africa!!?? Lucky gal! I worry about this too, for the sake of my son, mostly. He needs down time where other kids perhaps don’t. We don’t push him into activities after school, it takes a lot for him to keep focused through the day, and isn’t into sports, so needs that few hours after school. But then you see this kid playing violin and another playing piano. And another doing T ball, and another a play….I don’t know. You think you do the right things for you and your loved ones but sometimes start the second-guessing. And yeah, facebook is crazy w/all the edited happiness. Love it to stay connected and I get a ton of news and information that way but some of the bragging is out-of-hand. My son also has a tough time figuring out what to do on his own. Sometimes he’ll just walk over and say “What should I do next”? He used to be a little better and unfortunately I think screen time has zapped him of any imagination on what to do when screen time ends (aside from reading…).

    • It is so important to let them just have time to themselves to create fun. My son has trouble thinking up what to do as well, though the older he gets the more he seems to be developing a clear sense of what he’d rather be doing – then he goes and does it when he’s got some free time. Like biking, scootering, playing at the park. As far as actual make-believe games, he seems to take his lead from his friends and if they’re not around, he still has difficulty in coming up with something to play on his own.
      We have no screens – well, he has a computer and we have iPads but he doesn’t use any of them very much. He begs to be allowed all the time, but he is just so creative when he doesn’t spend time in front of a screen. Tonight before bed, for example, I was cleaning up and I could hear him unrolling tape in his room. When we got there to read to him, he had made this whole scarecrow person out of boxes and cloth bags and tape and paper rolls and rope. Now, if he had been playing on the computer, he wouldn’t have had that creative outlet. Other than that he does read lots too.
      Anyway, don’t second guess yourself. It sounds like you are in tune with your son and his needs and pace. It’s so important to give them time – they have their whole lives to be organized and grown up.

  3. OK, now I think you are just living out snippets of my life in parallel! First, photography, now – this :))) At the moment, I am reading “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne. It talks very clearly about the power of less in children’s lives. Among the areas for less, planned activities and entertainment are discussed in much the same light that you are talking about them. I’ve been thinking a bit about it lately. The activities, the screens, the toys, the pressure, the commercialism….

    • We’re on the same wavelength! I think it’s a good sign that more and more people seem to be thinking this way. Hopefully the sheer numbers will bring about changes – simpler, screen-free lives lived richly, children able to be independent and free. There are of course the masses going in the opposite direction but there are more people than I thought there would be who seem to see things the way I’ve described them.

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