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Life is beautiful… if you stay in your bubble

For years, a decade maybe, my father has been hawking us to purchase a generator. He’s not a well man, emotionally, physically, financially; but the one thing he does have is a healthy dose of paranoia. I’ve been on the receiving end of countless battery packs, fire extinguishers, flares, safety kits, survival books (Want to know what to if a bear attacks?), walkie-talkies, flash lights, crank radios and all sort of protective paraphernalia. A few years ago, when moving him from one apartment to another, I found gas masks, a shotgun* and an actual oxygen machine. He had no idea how to use any it, but he just had to have it.

I don’t mind most of the stuff. I mean, who can argue band aids or batteries. I am just overly sensitive, and at the same time, desensitized to his obsessive paranoia. Hurricanes are coming. Terrorist attacks are coming. Okay. I believe as my grandmother did, “What will be, will be.” We were displaced for 10 days during Sandy.  I’ll admit, I eyed the house across the street with the humming generator, but we were all fine – a little cold and inconvenienced, but fine. Actually, I thought the whole thing was a good bonding experience.

My father chides me for my complacency. For the bubble I choose to inflate around myself and my family. In his mind, devastation is right around the corner. This week he was right. Devastation. So close, I feel it tighten my chest, and start to swell into a mass of overwhelming emotion every time I give the thought a second to grow.

So I’ve made a conscious effort to not watch the news or read the papers. I don’t know if this is wrong, but when a headline passes my eye or, like this morning, when I caught a snippet on the radio while driving to the gym, I just lose it. I can’t even think about it. I really can’t.

There are now big, gaping holes in my bubble, and it threatens to collapse and suffocate me. I have always been keenly aware of the fragility of life. There are already so many things to worry about when we put our children and ourselves out into the world. This is just too much, because really, there is no protection from random acts of insanity. There are measures, there are steps, there is protocol. It all helps, and provides some sense of safety. Really though, we are all so vulnerable and exposed, and that is beyond frightening. All I can do is frantically patch the holes with hope and denial, hug my family tight, and pray that I never hear a pop.

A generator can’t offer my family any real protection, so I just don’t have the energy to care.


*After a huge battle with my father, the shotgun, along with a bunch of other stuff, was properly disposed of, but that’s another story.

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About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

47 responses »

  1. How can we make peace with broken bubbles and still believe life is beautiful?

  2. Winnie Schindler

    another day of reading just lets me see how talented and compassionate you are. glad you got rid of the shotgun

    On Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 8:17 AM, Icescreammama

  3. Beautifully written and so true. I wish I was with you at the gym but Ella is home sick and still in my bubble today!!

  4. I hear you on this – I’ve been going back and forth in and out of my bubble, reading and putting down the newspaper and losing it regularly/repeatedly. I don’t want to live in denial or paranoia, but am having difficulty navigating any acceptable middle ground. Thank you for putting words to it all – beautiful, compassionate words at that!

    • i’m walking a very wavy line here… if i think about it, i kind of lose it… and want to pull my kids out of school. so i’m trying not to think about it… it’s just so so bad. it’s beyond words…

  5. I have been avoiding the news too. I also think about whether this is good or bad, but the truth is, I think it just is. We all have ways of processing these kinds of tragedies to make them easier to handle. And if I didn’t have these coping mechanisms, I think that the pain and grief would simply cut me off at the knees. So I will stay in my bubble, however patched and mangled it is, hold my family close, and hope for the best.

  6. I can understand perfectly well where you are coming from. From the other side of the world I have also chosen not to read about it, or watch it on the television.

    On security, and I’m not linking this to the tragic situation, but more to life in general…

    The great American writer, and philosopher, Helen Keller, said “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in name, nor do the children of man as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

  7. Every time I make the mistake of reading the paper, I am in tears. You’re right, there is no protections from random acts of violence. It’s terrifying.

  8. Like you, I’ve been avoiding the TV, and the news, and the radio. It is a terrible senseless tragedy and I just cannot bear to hear it dissected over and over again, because no matter how much we wish for it, there is no making sense of this.

  9. I’ve been avoiding the news, too. What happened is tragic enough, and then I hear that microphones are being shoved in 5-year-olds’ faces asking them how they feel about what happened? There’s something seriously wrong with that.

  10. Thank you for your piece. There is true evil in this world. I have been brought to tears several times as well attempting to process the events of Friday. Hopefully, since we somehow must move on, we all choose to see we belong to each other.

  11. The thing about bubbles is that they only exist when the pressure inside and outside is equal — and that makes them amazing, rare, and pretty darn strong.

    I’m not in denial, but my stubborn streak has reared its ugly red head. I refuse to let something unpredictable force me into the shadow of fear. I’m guessing I’m in the “anger” stage of grief.

    • omg – you’re good at science.. you lost me. 😉

      i’m impressed with your anger and stubbornness! Don’t give in. it certainly hasn’t done me any good to feel helpless to random insanity.

  12. I prefer life inside my patched-up bubble as well. It’s just too painful and maddening to feel it all sometimes.

  13. Thank you for this. It is so well written, and you are so right.

    I found myself obsessing over it – I needed to know the details so I could make some sense of it. But all that has left me is feeling angry and scared. There are no answers. I don’t think there ever will be.

    Maybe next time (because we all know there will be a next time), I’ll try your tactic.

    • Thank you. you hit the problem on the head, somethings we can’t make sense of, and that’s very difficult to process, especially this, especially in a school with kids. too much… ( I love cloudy with a chance of wine – such a great name!)

  14. I’ve made an effort to not watch the news either. If I do, I just find myself weeping. I haven’t been able to find my blogging rhythm either. I’m hoping to find the words soon.

  15. “All I can do is frantically patch the holes with hope and denial, hug my family tight, and pray that I never hear a pop.” I’ve always felt like this, but it’s become much worse since I had kids. I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, but I don’t know how to cope with the level of fear I feel for their safety.

    I’m slowly realizing I’m going to be afraid for them for the rest of my life. I wish I knew how to put that fear aside.

    • i struggle with the same stuff. I feel like i’m a reasonably rational person, but there’s nothing rational about random insanity. when you have kids, i think, you do kind of live in constant fear. but we can’t let it overwhelm us. we just can’t.

  16. I think we need our bubbles, or we just couldn’t keep going. I know I couldn’t. That bubble is my safety net.

  17. Pingback: Blog Ettiquette: A Code of Ethics in the Wake of Violence | Keeping it Real

  18. Thanks for your post. It’s been really hard for me to process and think about how to respond to the tragedy on my blog. Your writing is well-worded and thought provoking.

  19. so, so true! but you don’t need a bubble – just a healthy outlook and an understanding of what you can’t control. sounds like you have a good handle on things and I wouldn’t say you live in a bubble – you are just realistic!
    I’m with you – though I wouldn’t mind a generator – dealing with power outtages are commonplace around here and having twins who can’t sleep without the white noise of their humidifiers can be difficult without power. and heat – tough to sleep when it’s 30 degrees outside and no heat in the house. so a generator is on my wishlist, but it probably won’t happen. In two years and 4 outtages that lasted a day or more, we’ve only had to crash at a hotel for 2 nights.

    • thanks. and yes, i’d say i’m realistic. i know that (god willing – poo poo poo) nothing bad will happen here, but i also know that bad things happen. it’s so hard to come to terms with that.
      and yeah, a generator is still on my list. those 10 days of sandy, we’re long, but like i said, it strangely brought our family some really good bonding time.

  20. Girl, I hear you. My husband watches that show Doomsday Preppers, but I just can’t bring myself to prepare for the worst like that. They may be giving themselves an advantage over the rest of us, but slightly. Unless I’m going to build a bunker and live in it forever, I just need to ignore the bad stuff as much as I can (with all due respect) so that I can keep living. What’s the point of staying alive if you don’t get out there and live?

  21. I think that stubborness is the thing that will make us keep fighting. Keep living.

  22. I get where you’re coming from on this. I think there’s this tendency to think if we know every single last tiny detail about bad things that can happen and may happen again then nothing bad will happen to us because We Know. Like watching 582052 hours of cable news disaster porn and then buying an armored backpack is going to guarantee our kids safety. There’s always the possibility of disaster no matter what and obsessing on it tends to detract from all the joy there is in life.

    That being said, I still keep up with the news – disasters and not disasters alike – I just try to limit myself to good sources and intelligent commentary. I can’t handle the “Hey bereaved parent, how do you feel?” stuff, though. It’s too upsetting. Plus it seems cruel and pointless. How the hell do you think they feel, jerk reporter? Their kid is dead. Leave them alone to grieve in peace.

  23. I live in a similar bubble. If I really think about things, I’ll go insane. I’ll be the one with the gas mask and such.

    I haven’t watched any coverage and I’ve read very little about what happened in CT. I just can’t. Too close to home, the faces of those children look too much like my own little one.

    I think some amount of living in a bubble is self-preservation. If you’re prepared for most things that you can be prepared for, worrying over the rest is pointless. At least that’s how I see it.

    • I try to keep it in perspective, but for me as well, this nightmare is too close to home. we just got back our class pictures and looking at my sweet babies faces, that are around the same ages as those children, is terrible. i’m stuck grieving for their parents and freaking out that it happened to the most innocent in the safest of places.


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