I don't know that I would have actually ever created this post on my own but have received a surprisingly large amount of emails and direct messages asking about motherhood and raising a toddler on a bus. I should preface this with the reality we have only been in the bus two months but being pregnant and parenting a two year old I do feel like there are a few things I have learned and been blatantly shown through living in a small space but I am not sure they are lessons different for any other mother out there.
The truth though is I think no matter where you mother, motherhood is hard, in a bus, a house, an apartment... whenever motherhood is universally a language we are all still trying to learn. Having only been a mother for two years I can't claim any level of expertise. I am not terribly patient, good at calming tantrums, or right now even remotely good at potty training. Living in a bus hasn't made these things any more or less real but it has taken the space we would normally have to live in and learn together and made it incredibly smaller and more personal.
Meaning a lot of nights we all sleep in the same bed, and bed time becomes a relative term because I may put her down at 7:30 at night but its a bus and if she is going to get up and refuse to go to bed... well thats what is happening there is no division of space to change that reality. If I need a moment alone... I have to get creative. If there is a poopy diaper everyone smells it. Tantrums interfere with everyones activities, and boredom because everyones problem as well. This goes the other way as well though with my own stress, anxiety, arguments... no one gets to hide from these things. What this means is yes a lot of disruption but also a more beautiful space for us to learn to function together as a family.
I think that before the bus I relied heavily on doors, and cribs, and spaces where I could create division between myself and Jessamyn. Bedtime could mean a closed door, mama time could mean going down stairs while she played quietly in another room, tantrums could be walked away from. In the bus it is different, everything has to be worked out in the moment. This has been both challenging and incredibly beautiful and really changed the way I mother.
Basically living in a bus has made me more attentive, more aware of my need for self care and Jessamyn's needs as well. Its made me appreciate ritual and schedules but also to understand breaking these isn't the end of the world, we can figure things out together. We aren't going to live in the bus forever and I know that motherhood changes through each age and phase but for now I am holding appreciation for the lack of space between us, the inability to avoid our problems and the reality that this is us together.
The beauty of living in a bus with a toddler is sort of two sided. Its the lack of hiding, I can't pretend to be anything than what I am in the moment. I can't walk away from problems or stress and Jessamyn gets to see it all. We get to work through everything together. It is also a chance to experience every good moment together, e very joy, success, all of it. I think this is something in small ways I will try to carry with us even after the bus.
I am sure there are a lot more lessons to learn. I don't claim to be an expert on bus life or motherhood but for us right now it is a raw beautiful mess and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I hope that someday when Jessamyn looks back on this she doesn't see a perfect mom or an early childhood without mistakes. I hope that she sees love, and vulnerability, and a mother who is trying through short comings, through failures, to just love and thats really it.
If you have any thoughts about mothering in a small space I would love to hear them! This was obviously a bit more on the heart side than the practical side of raising a toddler in a bus but I feel like where I am at still holds true and these things will probably change as time goes on but for now its just a whole lot of vulnerability and love.