Hi everyone! Kyla here…I’m happy to welcome a new contributor to the Peaks & Harbours team, my dear friend Vanessa Norris. Vanessa is an amazing mom to two girls, a kick-ass high school Science teacher and passionate environmentalist. So without further ado, please welcome Vanessa!
What does it mean to spend a year at home with a baby and toddler?
I have finally accepted that I am clinging on to the last few threads of my second maternity leave with white knuckles and a raw heart.
My daughter, Finn, came home last week announcing her frustration with a historical research assignment her class had been given. It was on exploration to North America, and students could choose either Christopher Columbus or the Viking Leif Erikson. As Finn drawled out the men’s names, her eyes nearly rolled across the floor and out the window.
“Where are all the women?” she sighed.
“Oh, they’re there.” I replied, trying very hard to contain my excitement that was threatening to boil over. “So why don’t we do a little research on one, and ask your teacher if you can do your report on her instead?”
Finn’s eyes brightened, “Yes!” she finally smiled.
Last night, when I should have been sleeping, I was catching up on Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist – in particular her chapter “Not here to make friends.” The chapter title comes from that inevitable quip from every ‘difficult’ (usually female) member of any competitive reality show, when it turns out she’s not here for pedicures and pillow fights with her teammates. Because if a woman isn’t kind, agreeable, and making all the right decisions – she must be a bitch or a loser right?
About four years ago, I sat in the boiling shade in Madhya Pradesh, India after furiously taking pictures of the Khajuraho temple sculptures before the sun got too high. I sat panting, watching the tourists mill around, fanning their sweating bodies. The locals went about their every day ritual of setting out lunch in the temple shade, seemingly unfazed by the scorching air. I came home from that trip earlier than planned; but, as we fast forward to 2016, I find myself deeply missing my research and writing on material and art history.
I have had the absolute pleasure of working with Tara for the past three years in my day job, Associate Director of New Works here in Vancouver. At least once a week she’s in the office, stroller in tow, to meet with her GM Janice, and get down to the business of running an amazing dance theatre company. She’s a ray of fresh, real sunshine, and always make you laugh. I’m so delighted that Tara is our newest interview on the site today – read on and don’t forget to see her next performance in a week!
It’s Wednesday! Are you all back into the swing of it yet? I know, me neither; but, we’re halfway through the week already and I know we can do it. Now let’s take a break from the lunch-making, the work blouse-ironing, the side-project hustling, and take a moment to meet Meera Bennett, one of our newest contributors to Peaks & Harbours. Meera is smart, kind, and has all the balls in the air as a full-time lawyer, owner of Devon’s Drawer (with her mama), mother of two, and everything in between.
Here’s Meera on her early experiences as a working mother – give her a sweet hello!
My husband and I were the first of our friends to have a baby. If I’m going to be honest, our son was a baby of convenience. You may laugh when you read this, because, if you have kids, you know that babies are not convenient. However, my husband had a one year contract in Ottawa, and I wanted to go with him for that year AND have a job when we came back home to Vancouver AND we were thinking about having kids anyways. I figured that the best way to both go away for a year and have a job on my return was to have a baby. So we had a baby. It’s not like we were all that young – I was 29 when my son was born – but we are both lawyers and our colleagues and friends were not even thinking about having babies yet. It felt a little crazy and impulsive.
When my son was eight months old, and my the end of my maternity leave was looming, I started to get a lot of questions from family and friends about whether I was going to be returning to work. I was told that working with kids was hard, a baby needs its mom, and we could live on my husband’s salary. I suppose I can be a bit prickly, and these questions were well intentioned, but I was insulted. I spent almost eight years getting my post-secondary education, I love my job, and I really value the financial independence I get from working. Also, why wasn’t my husband getting these questions?
So, I went back to work. It was hard, of course, but also joyful and wonderful and I was so glad that I was working again.
Being one of the first of my friends to have kids means that, now my friends are having their first kids, I get a lot of questions about returning to work. I always say the same thing. The first few months are hard (for the kids and parents), but working is wonderful as long as you like what you do for a living.
I now have an almost five year old son, and a 15 month old daughter. I’ve just gone back to work (for the second time) to my full time job working as an in house counsel for an administrative tribunal. In addition, I run a children’s clothing line with my Mom (Devon’s Drawer,www.devonsdrawer.com
), and I am on the board of directors for the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga. I am intermittently involved with a number of feminist and poverty law organizations. I also somehow fit in an almost daily yoga practice. Although my life is busy, I wouldn’t change a thing.
When Carina asked me to write a column on work/life balance for Peaks and Harbours I briefly hesitated; I don’t think I have all the answers. Sometimes I just work a lot and miss my kids. So, this blog is not going to be a “list of ten things you can do to lead a balanced life”. Rather I hope to document my attempt to keep it all together, and provide a joyful narrative about being a working mom.
If you want to meet me in person, my Mom and I are doing a Devon’s Drawer pop up shop at Chorus and Clouds on September 10
, and I’d love to see you there
! I’m also going to be leading a discussion at Chorus and Clouds
on October 4
about work/life balance, please come!
When Hilary’s email sailed into our inbox last week, I had to blink hard. Her ears must’ve been burning. Over the past couple of months, Bree and I have been eager to get back into focusing Peaks & Harbours on what we (and you!) love best – art & design excursions that thrill the grown-ups and excite the littles; promoting local businesswomen, artist, and creators; telling tales of our outdoor adventures; talking real about the world around us and our place in it; sharing tasty recipes that nourish you; and sharing our favourite hilarious moments – all from our amazing team of Peaks & Harbours contributors.
But I digress.
Hilary – Dr. Hilary Letwin to be exact – of Culture Babes, has been hosting events for five years that bring parents and kids to art exhibitions and performance events around the city, satisfying that deep craving to keep your intellect fed, with kids in tow. Now, without spoiling everything that Hilary has kindly written below, these are no regular gallery visits – they are more like, relaxed VIP tours for you and your littles. Got your attention? Read on readers, read on.