Meet Vanessa Norris!

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!

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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.

If you had asked me how I was feeling about the closing of this chapter even a few days ago, I would’ve given the token response of “it is bittersweet” or “I can’t believe it’s been a year” or “I’m looking forward to using my brain again.”

And, though all of these statements are in fact true, they do NOTHING to convey the intensity of the heart-wrenching uncertainty I’m experiencing as I navigate these last few days with my lovable little parasites still attached firmly to my side.

When I started jotting ideas down for this post even just a week ago, my thoughts were dappled with a decent dash of sarcasm, humour and self-deprecation. However, in the time since then, the pendulum has definitely swung towards sentimental strewn with sappy.

And so, on that note, please be forewarned the head-spinning I am currently experiencing may very well become more magnified as I take to the keyboard but here goes nothing…

What DOES it mean to spend a year at home with a baby and toddler?

It means…

At this stage of the game (11 months) my mind has melted and is quite possibly leaking out of my ears… where did my brain do and please, can I have it back? I do get it back right??? The early days of maternity leave are spent leaking something (blood, breast milk, tears, urine just to name a few) so perhaps being a little low on brain fluid is not the worst thing in the world, but the thing is, I want my mind back! I anticipate I will need it to function in the “real world”…

It means…

I am simultaneously savouring the sweetness of watching a tiny human change daily, a toddler explore the world with unbounded enthusiasm (or rage, or sadness, or subbornness, or kindness – depending on the minute) and all the while, also counting down the minutes until these little miracles are sleeping soundly in their beds so that i can put the chaos to rest too. Two have the power to topple even the most tenacious.

It means…

I see the world through the eyes of a mother and this is a filter I cannot turn off. I wear my mother’s heart outside of my body, it beats, buoys me up, and burns like never before. My mother’s heart empathizes non-discriminatorily with animated characters and heartbreaking headlines. I might not know you, but I will cry for you! And, cartoon character or not I will probably bombard my husband with twenty too many “what if scenarios” after the book has been closed or the T.V. turned off and when our heads should be hitting the pillows pretty hard, Β I will still be empathizing hard.

It means…

As soon as the phone rings my toddler is yelling POTTY, POTTY, POTTY!!! If you don’t have kids that we can ignore over a play date together I probably haven’t talked to you in way too long. I miss you and I’m sorry.

It means…

I currently own a Baby Bullet but dream of having a Vitamix. The verdict is still out on whether this can be attributed to the ongoing stealth attempts to camouflage leafy greens in some sort of dessert-like smoothy or rather, if it is just that I am getting old. Either way it is happening… I am dreaming of a luxury blender. EGAAAAD!!!

It means…

Sleep is elusive. Sleep schedules, nap schedules, sleep training, sleep deprivation, the dreaded car nap… Arghhh I spend more time obsessing over sleep and talking about my lack of sleep than I actually spend on sleeping! I’m currently working on a 12-step plan to acceptance.

It means…

Walking is my BFF and the underground parking lot is my enemy. If I can wear my baby in a carrier and strap my toddler into a stroller I will walk. Wrangling two kids out of the house, their bums into seats and buckling two car seats is to be avoided at all costs. Although, I will still probably be paying the costs in the form of physiotherapy bills regardless, as both scenarios are not overly kind to my bothersome back.

It means…

Those days when it is 9am and you’ve crushed 2 loads of laundry, unloaded the dishwasher, prepped the dinner and gotten the baby to nap are freaking golden! Or perhaps it is more appropriate to name them after another golden counterpart – the American goldfinch – a bird found widespread throughout its range in residential areas, yet RARELY or NEVER in my ‘hood!

It means…

I am a mess. Me, my house, my car, my kids… If it is related to me there is a good chance it is in a mess! In the words of my British husband: “no, we have not been burgled”! With two, we just happen to go from tidy to tornado in T minus 3 seconds. I am constantly cleaning. But alas, I am a mess.

It means…

I can’t imagine life without my kids. It means that as much as my work adds freedom, independence and creativity to my life, the work I do raising my own children is the most challenging, most joyful and most important work I have ever done or will ever do. It means that there is no doubt that I will be wearing mascara stained cheeks Monday morning and probably all week. Loving these little humans makes my world the most beautiful mess I could’ve ever imagined and it will be my “real job” until the day I die. Between my alarm clocks that are about to be set, the day care pick ups and drop offs, and speedy dinners that will soon be routine, don’t you ever forget my loves, my babies, above all, spending the past year with you means the world. Mama loves you.

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