Early Parenting as Survival Mode

Lately I’ve been thinking of early parenting as a kind of “survival mode.” It’s not a very sexy term – could use a rebrand – but it’s a good way of adjusting expectations.

Can we extend the grace of the newborn bubble to the first few years of our children’s lives? Can we expect less of ourselves? Can we accept a simpler life and embrace its limitations?

As a society, we’re very bad at accepting limitations. But one way or another, we run up against them. During these early years when naps and bedtimes turn the hours of the day into a puzzle, and sleep deprivation takes its toll, what if we offered ourselves the dignity of doing less?

Perhaps during these early years we will write books and make huge career advancements and take lavish holidays. But let’s not do these things because we have something to prove. Because someone else managed it so we should be able to too. Or because we want to show that having a baby hasn’t changed us. It has changed us. Deeply. And that’s beautiful.

We’re already doing the incredible and creative work of making a family. Of cultivating new rituals and crafting a rhythm that flows through our days. We’re forging new identities and learning oh-so much everyday. Building the foundations of our babies’s childhoods brick by brick. Magicking traditions out of thin air.

That is immense and it is exhausting.

Our culture doesn’t much value the work and creative process of family life, which means we need to treasure and honour it all the more.

Early parenting as survival mode. Can we extend the grace of the newborn bubble to the first few years of our children’s lives? Can we expect less of ourselves? Can we accept a simpler life and embrace its limitations?

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