Long before I had my daughter, Juliette I read an article written by a "single mom." It was a message to women 'out there,' written more like a very personal letter. She talked about being at the park alone with her young child and seeing all the couples around her with their children. She commented on all of the complaints she often heard from other mothers sharing long lists of minor irritations they felt from their husbands. I do not remember her own sexual orientation; just that she had no partner and was raising her child alone. She only explained that she had not met that special someone and did not want to wait any longer to have a child and so chose to parent on her own.
She was so transparent about her feelings of solitariness, about her wish to share the joyful experience and the work of parenthood with someone else, someone she loved. She was very brass tacks in her description of life alone with a child and the difficulties and hardships it presents. She was prepared and had planned this child but had no way of knowing how she would feel. It was written more like a warning to women who would consider flying solo, who might make the same choice she did to be a "single mom." I remember reading this and understanding without question exactly what this woman was saying. I did not have to experience it for myself or know someone in that situation, someone that had chosen that path; she had done such a good job of describing how she felt. Her loneliness was visceral as was her near (self-acknowledged) envy of those couples with children. I knew at that moment I would NEVER want that for myself.
Yet, I am here – that "single mom" of a four year old in her early forties and today it was the Wubble that nearly broke my daily attempt at positivity and enthusiasm for my solo life with my daughter – it literally burst my bubble, the Wubble. It had been four months since her birthday, since receiving the Wubble as a gift from one of her preschool classmates, when we first got the Wubble. It did not come with batteries so it took that long to let it congeal in my mind that yes, it took D batteries and no, we did not have any and yes, it took four and not two to finally get it together and be ready to transform the blue blubbery ball into a nearly three foot rubber bubble.
We had a lot of fun blowing it up; Juliette emptied all the parts out and ran to get the q-tips and petroleum jelly for the valve. She and I studied how the batteries go into the air pump based on the raised and barely visible image on the inside of wherever it is going, positive up, negative down, plus/minus, all the fun battery know how. Juliette even screwed the tiny screws back in herself, surprising me by saying aloud "lefty loosey, righty tighty" that her teacher Michael had recently taught her in their study of the nearby construction site to the preschool and consequently machinery and how to use tools.
We went outside with the Wubble as we were instructed that the toy could be used inside and out. It was a fairly cold but sunny late February day and there were still snow in patches on the ground in our back yard. The Wubble was a true delight-the whale blubber like texture was fun to grab and squeeze, the bounciness and the way the light and sky shown through its transparent body, it literally transformed your world view in a "captain, my captain" sort of way. I reminded Juliette what the instructions in the box said, that the Wubble was NOT indestructible and went inside just to grab a coat.
As I was heading back out Juliette ran inside "Mom, I have some bad news!" I looked down in her hand was the now dirty sack of ruptured and deflated Wubble. Immediately I was struck by sadness and then became angry, dismissive and clearly upset that she had so quickly destroyed the Wubble. A pokey stick was the culprit, rather prevalent on the one side of the yard that the Wubble would inevitably roll too and one hundred percent understandable that the Wubble bubble might then burst.
At that moment however, that rationale did not matter – my own bubble had burst. I knew that it was because I was not there to steer the Wubble to the safest part of the yard that the Wubble was punctured. That it was because I am only one person and I needed my coat. It's like the Wubble was all the things we would never get to see or know. Like when someone passes away long before their time and it made me mad. Later my mom would try to comfort me from 1,700 miles away by text saying at least I had recorded it on video.
Childhood is a bit like that. Any moment we can give to the elusive experience of raising our child we must. Suspend our pressing adult realities long enough to connect with our children because eventually we will have to get our coat, nature or duty will call, time will pass very quickly and the Wubble of childhood will have burst.