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staying safe from the coronavirus

My baby,

I know we typically live in a little bubble together—in our own world of kindergarten drop-off and preschool pickup, music class and dance practice. We're used to slow time at home and have had hundreds of chunks in time where life was exactly that. Slow. Mundane. Repetitive. Weeks when one of you (or all of you) had high fevers, keeping you out of school and activities. Postpartum seasons after one of you were born when we all hibernated for a while. Days planned within our busy weeks when I know we all need to just stay home and take it easy.

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This bubble is different, yes. But you don't really know that.

Because here in our bubble, it feels familiar. It feels comforting. It feels safe.

In our bubble, we have enough.

Enough food (I even stocked up on the fruit snacks you like that we don't typically buy!), enough craft supplies, enough toys. You have a warm bed with lots of pillows and plenty of stuffed animals to keep you company. You put together adorable mismatched outfits, picked out from the abundance of clothes in your closet. You have fuzzy blankets to snuggle up with, dress-up clothes to play pretend with, streaming services to be entertained by.

In our bubble, we are healthy.

You've only been with your immediate family members for days now. We're doing all that we can to keep you—and us—safe from the germs. We stocked up on Gatorade and Pedialyte, saltines and chicken broth just in case. You've been fueling your muscles and bones with kale and yogurt and probiotics. (And M&M's.) We have nice soaps and shampoos to scrub you clean. You're growing and developing and (knock on wood!) you seem to have left your runny noses and coughs in winter, ready to welcome spring.

In our bubble, we are learning.

You're watching interesting shows about animals on Disney+. You're learning about hippopotamuses on the free (and awesome!) zoo cams streaming online. You're recording yourself reading books to your friends, gaining confidence every day. You're drawing and coloring and creating—on your own time, in your own flow, as we navigate working and schooling at home. We're making mistakes and testing one another's patience levels. You are learning, and so are we.

In our bubble, we have fun.

We have dance parties to the Frozen 2 soundtrack, we create along with Art Hub For Kids YouTube videos, we laugh with our toddler when they tell us their made-up knock-knock jokes. We do wacky voices and make silly faces and wear pajamas a lot. There are crayons everywhere and toys we're tripping over. I am trying to ignore the mess as best I can, reminding myself that this "extended home time" is not forever. It's just for now.

In our bubble, we ride the emotional roller coaster.

We are free to express the (very many) different emotions we're having day-by-day—or more realistically, minute-by-minute. One second one of you is frustrated while the other is crying. Then you're all laughing which quickly and mysteriously turns to whines of boredom. We're all exhausted yet filled with manic energy at once. We're happy but sort of confused. We're feeling the feels in our safe zone, with each other.

In our bubble, we are together.

When it's all said and done, we are lucky to be together. So I am cherishing that. We have what we need, which most importantly, is one another.

There are other parents who are called "essential workers" and even though your parents are home with you, those parents still need to go do their jobs at hospitals or delivering packages, off to the firehouse or stocking grocery shelves. They know they may get the germs, but they are doing their jobs anyway. They are brave, like superheroes.

The other day, one of you said, "Mom, can we go to the pool?" To which I replied, "Well, it's not open yet because it's not hot enough yet. And we have to wait for the germs to stop spreading."

You said, "Oh, right. When the germs are gone. I forgot!" You smiled and moved on to making a playdough snowman. I said a silent prayer of thanks, knowing that while you are registering something is different around here, you don't know the intricacies of it.

We're in our bubble for now.

And we can't stay here forever.

I don't want to, anyway.

Because the world awaits.

And when our bubble pops, I believe it will be even more beautiful.

And even more compassionate.

And even more resilient.

But for now, while we're here, I'll try my best to relax a little. To dance a little more freely while we play your favorite song. To read your books even more enthusiastically than usual. To color with you during a work break. To lay with you while I get you down for your nap. To bake with you when you ask me to. To play tag in the backyard. And "I Spy" in the living room. And Monopoly on the weekend when both parents are available. (😂)

My heart shatters for others whose bubbles might not be safe and cozy like ours. For the kids separated from parents. For the sick people battling this virus.

So for them, we will be grateful. We'll appreciate the safety of our bubble. And we'll stay in it because right now, that's the best way we can be helpers.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.

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Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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