Living in a mothering bubble

Hours, days, weeks, months careen past me. The runaway train that I mentioned before is more under control these days but it still gallops on except now I’m standing on it, rather than dragged along behind it like a few months ago.

My world feels very narrow at the moment. Not in an oppressive, smothering way, but the focus is still very much on getting through the day and this involves the most basic of tasks: waking, eating, dressing, travelling, working, travelling, playing, eating, homemaking, caring (both of others and myself), sleeping. Administration of life takes place with a snatched five minutes during a coffee break or a nap. On a daily basis, my life revolves solely around my family. That’s just the three of us, not the much larger extended version. There is no conscious decision to exclude others but the day ends and suddenly its bedtime and there hasn’t been time for anyone else. It’s not how I’d like it to be but I think right now that’s just how it has to be and it grates with me. I feel like I can’t be the daughter-sister-friend that I want to be and should be when all of my energies are completely invested in the wife-mother-professional that I currently am.

photo credit: Jeff Kubina via photopin cc
photo credit: Jeff Kubina via photopin cc

I miss phone calls and forget to call people back. Sometimes it takes me days to reply to emails and text messages because if I don’t respond immediately they slip right out of my head as the train chugs on and on and on… There are people in my life who need support and care right now because life is being unkind to them and it wounds me deeply when I realise that in the fog of just living my life I have accidentally shifted them to the back of my mind only for them to bob up and down in my thoughts late at night or at moments when its impossible to reach out just right there and then. I wince when I think about how I don’t give of myself to them like I would have in the past. I feel like I am letting them down and you know, I am. This stage of my life means I’m living inside this mothering bubble and its integrity needs to be maintained. It’s overwhelming.

I’m sorry if that sounds like an excuse but it’s where I am right now. The reality is I am exhausted – physically, emotionally, tactually, spiritually. In a few years time, when my family isn’t so young and not so dependent on me, this will change. But right now, my energies are focused inwards on our little threesome who have to come first – always. I hope others understand that and will forgive me in time.

Born to skin to skin

We had some sickness in the house these last few days. The muslins were back out and flat surfaces were covered in tissues, wipes and the odd potion or two. We also had a seriously cuddly baby on our hands, who loves nothing more than a good snuggle and having his hair stroked when he’s feeling ill.

When I think about it, it’s more than when he’s under the weather. Whenever he’s looking for comfort, whether it’s that little support to help him to nod off at bedtime or when he’s got a fright or hurt himself and he is just looking to reconnect, his default pacifier is to seek out skin.

He nuzzles into your chest and he’ll use his cheek, chin or nose – like a little puppy – to move away any clothing that might be coming between him and the warmth of your naked skin. Sometimes, he’ll also wrap his arms around your waist and hook his hands in under your top so that he can press his hands and arms against the soft flesh of your hips and back.

Blogpost: born skin to skin www.mindthebaby.ie Mind The Baby Blog
photo credit: The Jordan Collective via photopin cc

Even when he’s a bit hyper, full of the excitement of horse play around the house, he’ll jump into your arms for a hug and press his peachy cheek against yours with the ferocity and vitality that only a small child has. It’s like he’s saying “I love you and I love this, us together”. It’s just gorgeous.

It was my husband who pointed out that it makes perfect sense that this is how he would communicate love, safety and contentment to us.

“He was born to it…it’s what he knows.”

It’s nothing but truth. I reached down to grab him as he came into this world and lifted him straight into my arms and onto my chest. For the first few hours of his life he knew nothing but skin to skin. When the midwives took me for my shower, my husband wrapped him up in his strong arms and he held him against his heart where he slept contently.

A more beautiful beginning I can’t imagine. Swaddled in the warm skin of the people who love you most. Why wouldn’t that be your go-to place when you need to reach out?

There are only so many circumstances and so many people in your lifetime with whom you get to experience the calming, reassuring and electric sensation of your bare skin against another’s. It is truly a magical gift to have that innocent, pure intimacy with your child. I drink it in and relish in it while I still can…

Related links:

My birth story

Has motherhood stolen my sense of humour?

Humourless photo credit: Melissa Segal via photopin cc
Humourless
photo credit: Melissa Segal via photopin cc

Have you seen the film The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis? It’s a cynically timed US Republican local election comedy that was released earlier this year.

(Mini-review: a poor imitation of the far superior Talladega Nights that tries too hard and misses. Unless you’re a huge fan who thinks the two boyos can do no wrong, I’d give it a miss.)

Anyway, to my point, there’s a big slapstick scene in it where the two candidates get into a fist fight at an election rally and Will Ferrell’s character ends up punching a baby in the face.

He punched a baby in the face.

What’s funny there? Is that funny? Am I missing something?

I could picture this getting huge laughs in the cinema with me sitting in the middle of it with my arms folded and scowling.

It is not the first time of late I have found myself greeting a punchline or anecdote with a stony face when other people are laughing. Sometimes I even get annoyed with the laughing and have often barked “that’s not funny” to nip this inappropriate merriment in the bud. And I really do think it’s not funny rather than me thinking it is funny but I shouldn’t think it now that I’m a terribly responsible mother.

The funny thing is I think I’ve a great sense of humour. (Am I deluded?) Smutty jokes in particular go down a storm with me and I have been known to tell quite the cheek-burning joke at the best of times.

I squarely put this new-found humourlessness at the feet of motherhood.  My reasoning is it seems to coincide with a ridiculously over the top empathy that I have developed at the same time.  I don’t mean a generous dose of emotional intelligence which is always a great thing. I’m talking about silly things like getting really emotional watching the news when the human interest stories are on or trying to throw my arms around people (metaphorically of course, I’m not a total nut job) when I hear sad stories about them or even, get this, at my office Christmas party last week, I started to feel super sorry to the point of upset for a colleague – a married, middle aged father of three teenagers who no more needs my sympathy – who was sitting by himself with no one talking to him.

There is a scene in an episode of the animated TV series Family Guy where Brian the dog has just discovered that he is a father and he’s in a bar with Peter and his friends watching some tragedy unfold on the news. Brian starts freaking out and saying he doesn’t know what he’d do if that was his son and how he just can’t bear to think about it and you just don’t understand until you become a parent etc ad nauseum to the point where one of the other characters turns around and says “Peter, your dog is giving me diabetes”.

It turns out that I am that dog. I give people diabetes.

I annoy myself.