First Impressions of the Coast

Well it’s been a week since we moved to the Sunshine Coast and for the first time in what feels like weeks I’ve found a moment to reflect. The whole process of buying and selling homes is stressful and busy! Sure, it’s stressful and busy in a super exciting, where-will-we-end-up, holy-shit-we’ve-ended-up-here? kinda way, but at it’s core it’s still just stressful and busy. But now we’re in the midst of settling into life in a new home, new community, and tbh very new lifestyle and I wanted to share some of my initial impressions, if only to chronicle my thoughts for future me (who I can only assume will be a major Nature Girl) to look back and laugh about.

Nightlife There are some big animals out here, guys. Like bears and bobcats and cougars right in our yard. Like I could run into them while walking my kids to school one block over. Everyone has a gate at the end of their drive that they close at dusk to keep the bigger stuff out of the yard overnight (makes sense!) and the first night it totally felt like a Purge situation and really freaked me out. I’ll admit that I haven’t actually seen that movie because I got too scared from just the trailer, but seeing everyone in my neighbourhood shut up their houses at dinnertime that first day made me wonder if Gibsons was harbouring a very dark secret. It didn’t help that I then spent the first night in our new house alone while Tom returned the UHaul to the mainland (well the kids were there, but they’d be fairly useless in an emergency). I will never forget the moment when the midnight cacophony of our swamp frogs went dead silent and I heard something big thumping around the backyard. It was probably just the raccoons but half of our doors didn’t lock that first day and my imagination definitely got away from me.

Nature All things above considered, I can see myself becoming a little easier-going with nature already. I used to pretty much refuse to live in a home without screens on the window, but I’ve lightened up a little (mostly due to the fact that we can’t afford to fix everything at once and I don’t have a choice). I used to hate having a fly or a bee in the house buzzin’ around and irritatin’ me but now that I have a big beautiful window right over my kitchen sink I’m like “come on in, bees, I know you guys do some good work on the planet and I really want you to pollinate my shit, just don’t sting my kids okay? Actually if you gotta do it, just do it, they probably deserve it.” Spiders are another story though as I learned today when Wells was reaching for a big, weird, black thing with a pulsating red backend and I flew across the room, swept him into my arms, and stomped it to oblivion before vacuuming it up and then putting the vacuum outside just in case. Hennie looked at me like I was a total psycho. She’s probably right.

A Trade-Off of Waiting I don’t think that a secret utopia exists where everything is a pro and there are no cons. One thing I’ve realized is that we’ve swapped waits. What I mean by this is that we’re not longer waiting for the things that used to take time back in the city, and we’re waiting for things we never waited for before (lol I hope no one has read this far, I’ve had two pints). There haven’t been any lineups at the grocery store, no traffic, no fighting for parking spots, none of that anxiety-inducing urgency on the roads that you can feel palpably in a city; it’s a glorious small-town benefit that helps me breathe easier. But the tiny condo we just left behind was in the same city as the Amazon distribution warehouse, and that’s one area where the new wait catches up with us. I can no longer place an order over breakfast and have it in hand before bedtime on the same day. Hell it won’t even arrive the same week anymore! As a matter of fact our neighbourhood is so rural that no one will come to our house, not Amazon, not the recycling pickup (we have to bring it to the depot ourselves), not the compost collectors, not even the friggin’ mailman (our mail goes to a bank of letterboxes at the end of our street). And here’s the kicker: there’s no. grocery. delivery. Am I even a mom of two if I don’t get my groceries delivered?

Neighbourliness okay so maybe the services aren’t the best but the locals are just so gd accessible that it more than makes up for having to walk down a street filled with cougars and bears to pick up our mail. My Amazon packages may not come to the door but new friends and neighbours will pop by with baskets of beers, freshly baked cookies, and kids to introduce to your kids. We texted a local electrician to see if we could make an appt with him and he texted back that he could “pop by in 5”. So far everyone we’ve met is roughly our age and has kids around the ages of our kids too (**potential friend alert**) which means that we can finally live out our dreams as social homebodies who host lots of bomb parties and ply their company with tons of beer and good stories. Lol pls come over. There’s only a small chance we’ll put you to work in our yard.

The Wildlings it took less than a week for the kids to adapt to the new space, which has amazed me and made me jealous because it’s gonna take much longer for me to get used to it. At first they were a bit agitated by the lack of routine, constant unpacking, and unfamiliar environment. Wells wasn’t falling asleep as easily as he usually does and Hen was acting out during the day, becoming clingy and whiny with Tom. But Wells has quickly become accustomed to his new bedroom and Hen has realized that she has a whole house and yard to explore there haven’t been any more (moving-related) issues.

Wells Hardy: Six Months Old

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If I wasn’t an intelligent, educated person who understands the irrefutable science behind the passage of time  I would swear to you that there was absolutely no friggin’ way that six months had passed since I brought this baby boy into the world. It feels like it happened so recently and it’s so fresh in my mind that I can’t really believe it. The only reason I do believe it is because I’ve been awake for almost all of the hours in those six months and have had ample opportunity to witness the passage of each blurry, chaotic day and each painful midnight hour.

But here we are, six months and many, many cups of coffee into his young life, and my relatively new life of a mother of two. After Hennie was born I documented her growth and development like clockwork on this blog. With my second born I am just now sitting down to think about his life thus far, and here is what I have learned about him, about myself, and about being a parent of two (!!) kiddos for half a year.

  • I still believe that Wells is a happy, amenable baby under his many (admittedly minor) ailments. Since he’s been born there has really always been something that has kept him from being a truly happy baby – first it was reflux and constipation, then he needed his tongue and lip ties revised (ouchie!), and now his ongoing teething misery and hyper-short catnaps are ensuring that he’s pretty much losing it by the end of each day. But in between each little thing that plagues him he is the loveliest boy with a smile that beams brightly for his mama. And damn, it’s nice.
  • He absolutely adores watching his big sister and I think she’s part of the reason that he’s so determined to do what she does. He watches her eat, his little mouth mimicking her chewing motions, and demands we give him food also. He watches her run down the hallway and his feet kick like crazy as he hangs in my arms. It really seems like he just can’t wait to be a boy. It’s super fun to watch and we think once he’s able to keep up to her and play on her level she’ll really love it, too.
  • Just because kids are siblings doesn’t mean they’ll be anything alike (duh!) and every parent has to “start over” learning how to parent each new child that comes along. Wells hasn’t been nearly as good of a sleeper as Hennie was but he has really been keeping us on our toes in terms of his motor skills – we can’t believe how early he became mobile! It’s fun and challenging to see and adjust to the personalities and skills that emerge with each child. We just wish that the skill of sleeping through the night didn’t seem so far away for this boy of ours.
  • After just one kid I quickly realized that it was so important for me to take time for myself to not be a mom, and it didn’t really matter what that time was spent doing. Yes, of course my home life is wonderful and I have a lot of support and the best family ever, but this doesn’t mean I never need a break or miss my old self and my old interests! Despite suspecting from the very beginning that I would be a better mom if I took time for myself I have never taken that time away. Ever. In fact, the only night I’ve ever been away from Hennie was the night I was in the hospital labouring her brother into this world (and even then I was back just after breakfast!). After two kids it quickly became clear that making time for self care wasn’t just an option or even a priority, it had to be a certainty. My mental health and wellness directly benefit from even a few small outings a month. I’m still exclusively breastfeeding Wells and he hasn’t taken to a bottle yet so I’m kinda tethered to the homestead for now, but I make a point of getting out for a solo run, walk, coffee, drinks with friends, even just to get groceries solo (who knew what a luxury that would become!). It took me two years of motherhood but I’ve learned the hard way that this is absolutely imperative to my mental survival.
  • With two kids I quickly learned that the potential for the day to go completely to shit is much higher than with just one. But the flipside of that is that the potential for an amazing, stars-have-aligned, everyone-is-in-a-good-mood-and-we’re-all-having-fun-day is also exponentially higher. The high of seeing these two sweet muffins playing together, laughing together, looking at books together, having tickle-fights, and racing across the living room (Hennie is undefeated) massively outweighs those tough days with two kids. I’m still learning not to hinge my mood on theirs; when one or both of them wake up cranky I often feel utterly defeated right from the start of my day. But with the help of a few new tools I’m trying to counteract that and stay positive even when my babies are miserable (spoiler alert: this is not always possible).

Having two has been such a big learning curve for us both but our Wellsy Boy feels like he fits into our family so seamlessly and I can’t wait to see his personality emerge a little more over the next half of his first year!

 

Sometimes Motherhood is Ugly

Can we talk for a minute about resentment and anger? Because postpartum hormones are a real bitch, let me tell ya. Instagram is chock full of those joyful, weepy moments and pleas for time to slow down and I’m guilty of sharing those moments as much as any other mama! But part of the reason those moments are so sweet and we exalt in them so deeply is because they offset the moments when we need to remember why we’re even doing this.

To me it seems like there’s a dark side to parenting emotions that nobody talks about: resentment, anger, exasperation, doubt, emotional fatigue, and omg the GUILT. As complex human beings we obviously have access to just as many negative emotions as positive emotions, so why can’t we talk about those, too? Are they too ugly for Instagram or is there just so much shame attached that we can’t acknowledge it? Or even more terrifying, am I the only one who feels this way sometimes?

I know damn well I’m in the “trenches” phase of motherhood with a fussy newborn and two kids under two, but it just feels as if everyone else’s days with their kids are so easy breezy and I’m weak for struggling where others do not. The motherhood community is so vast but I still feel isolated. I don’t ever want anyone else to feel guilty that they’re not loving every minute of it, so for the sake of total clarity, here are my mom confessions:

In my darkest moments I sometimes feel resentful towards my newborn for not being able to fall asleep on his own. For demanding so much of my energy that I feel utterly depleted at the end of each day (or more often by noon). I feel angry towards my body for not looking or feeling how I want it to. I feel defeated when I don’t have enough hands to make myself lunch. I feel resentful when I know I deserve to shower or sleep but circumstances don’t permit me to. I’m jealous that Tom gets to go to work each day and pursue projects that challenge and refresh him. I feel angry toward people who insinuate that being a stay at home mom is easy or that I “get to play all day”. I feel weak when my back aches from carrying this child all day long, even though I know I’m still recovering from carrying him inside me for even longer. I feel like a bad homemaker when I forget to prep a meal even though I still manage to get all the dishes and laundry clean done most days. I get upset when after all that I do, my daughter chooses her daddy over me over and over and over again, even though she’s a toddler experiencing a natural developmental phase. I feel angry that I have everything I have ever wanted and worked towards but sometimes I just want a day (okay a month) away from it all.

I know, it’s a lot to read, but it’s also a lot to feel all at once. Maybe you can relate or maybe you’re judging me. But because I don’t have a place for the negative emotions and I don’t know what to do with them and I feel so much shame about it that I can’t even talk about it out loud I’m just gonna leave it all here, acknowledge that it exists, and hope that it makes another parent feel a bit less alone in their journey. So if you’re in the trenches too, know you’ve got a friend down here, and there’s always an end to the fussiness, the teething, the regressions, cold and flu season, or whatever is bogging you down. Solidarity ✊🏻