The baby bubble

by Leanna McNeil

Sometimes it takes more effort to tie up a loose end than to let it flap in the wind. If I had to choose a motto for my current life experience as a parent, that would be it.

I find myself constantly holding multiple loops open in my head every day…the laundry I want to put away, the groceries I want to buy, the meals I want to make, the paperwork I want to complete, the exercise I want to do, the bills I want to pay, the cleaning I want to do, the home renovations I want to finish…and that’s not even making room for all of the stuff I’m thinking about relating to my son and the responsibilities and desires that come with being his mum.

Whether your children are older or brand new cherubs, we are pulled into something I have nicknamed ‘the bubble’. This bubble consists of a new role of responsibilities that take our attention, time and energy and invite us to re-prioritise what really matters to us. When you become a parent, in most cases you feel an instant pull towards your new role and what it entails. Feeding our children, changing them, keeping them safe, giving them quality attention, stimulation, cuddles and care all pull our focus away from other aspects of our lives, and our selves.

The bubble is a space that has a powerful suction mechanism and literally pulls you into it. And yet although you may realise that you are in a bubble, you will still connect with yourself as more than that. You are in that space and yet you are more than that space. It can be challenging because you will have things that you want for yourself that you will sometimes be required to sacrifice… even the simplest tasks like washing your hair.

My baby bubble has kept me on my toes, pushed me to my limit and given me my greatest joy. I’ve never been happier and I’ve never been more challenged.  My baby bubble has stopped me from achieving things that I would really have enjoyed for myself because I have made other priorities. I am learning how to juggle my needs and my sons needs each day and sometimes it runs smoothly and sometimes it’s a nightmare. There are loads of things I would like to do with my time and yet it can be a struggle to fit them in. Some days I’m lucky if I find the energy to floss my teeth before bed.

Since I’ve been living in this bubble, my brain sometimes stops working. I am constantly forgetting things, losing my phone, and once even my baby. Yes, that has happened to me, I have lost my baby. I had a total blank moment and couldn’t remember where I last saw him! Thankfully he was out playing in the back yard safe and sound. I’m not proud of it but proud to admit that I am not perfect. Since having a child I am consistently leaning into my imperfectness. That’s what the baby bubble forces you to do. It forces you to admit that sometimes you are holding and juggling one too many balls and eventually you drop one. Juggling is a skill and while you are developing your skill, you will be dropping a lot of balls. You are learning. As you progress, you will hopefully get more proficient and drop them less.

So how do you support yourself and how are you gentle and loving with yourself when you do drop the ball?  It can feel stressful and it can be embarrassing when people around us see our mistakes and see that we are not perfect and that our carefully constructed image that we have worked so hard on comes crashing down. Darn you bubble!

Admitting to ourselves and to others that we are less than perfect, that we get stressed, anxious and angry can be a tough thing to do. After all, we don’t want to be judged or criticised, we want to feel validated and understood. In this society we are often encouraged to believe that happiness, joy, security and success are about achievement. And yet how interesting it is that the qualities we seem to agree upon that create a good parent are love, affection, attention, play, and care. Being with our children and giving them those things will create a sacrifice of time spent somewhere else and often that sacrifice comes from personal achievements. So while being efficient and proficient are important qualities, when it comes to being a parent those themes don’t always apply because we are invited to use different skills. We are invited to BE different.

Your baby bubble is inviting you to do things differently than what you have done in the past. For me, my bubble has taught me above all else, patience. It’s teaching me resilience, and forces me to reflect on who am I when I am not achieving and who am I when I am not getting a job done. From the time that my son was born till when he turned three months old, I had a pile of clean laundry on my bedroom floor that just sat there. I just couldn’t even fathom touching it. I couldn’t get there. I looked at it every single day and you would think to yourself, “well how hard is it to pick up those clothes and put them away?” Well guess what, it was really hard. The idea of putting that pile of clothes away would have tipped me over the edge. I just couldn’t do it. My priority was feeding my child every few hours and surviving on so little sleep. End of story.

What I know for sure is that as our children grow the bubble changes. And at each stage of their development and growth, there will be new some challenges and some things that become easier. So today I invite you to reflect on how your baby bubble has challenged you, what you have learned from it and what strength you have gained from it.

I’m proud to say that I have learned that I am more than my achievements and that it is possible to be OK with not getting to do what I want to do all the time. There are moments that feel really painful when I have something I want for myself and when I don’t have time to do that it can feel really frustrating. Then that feeling passes and I find myself having a really great moment where I’m happy and content with whatever it is that I’m doing.  So you could say that being a parent is teaching me how to be a better adult because in real life we don’t always get what we want, it can be messy and sometimes it feels crappy so the more resilience you have to feel ok when times are tough or things aren’t going your way I imagine the better off you’ll be.

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