My kids’ endless snacking is killing my vibe.

Confessions of a mom on the brink.

Vanessa Chris Cameron
7 min readAug 21, 2021
So many granola bars. So many granola bar wrappers.

The Hole sits just to the left of our kitchen light switch.

Well, it’s not actually a hole. More of a deep indent — broken shards of drywall, imprinted into an imperfect semi-oval.

Next to the colorful arrangement of kids’ artwork and event-laden monthly dry-erase calendars, it almost looks like a happy accident — made by a joyful family, whose game of monkey-in-the-middle got a little out of hand.

Only I know the truth.

The Hole is a constant reminder of a time when that wall — like all the walls in my house — were closing in around me. When I was forced to take on more than my mere human psyche was able to handle. When my efforts to preserve space for myself proved grossly insufficient against the mounting demands in my life.

That hole is a constant source of shame — but I’m not ready to patch it. Not yet, at least.

I need to remember my space could be taken from me again.

It could all cave in at a moment’s notice.

Leave me alone

Despite the many square feet in my home, I don’t have a single one to call my own. There’s nowhere I can retreat to that’s free from clutter. Or people. Or requests for food.

I’ve tried to create boundaries — to draw a line in the sand the children are not allowed to cross. For instance, months ago, I bought an oversized, grey comfy chair on Kijiji and gleefully set up a refuge in my bedroom. It came with a strict rule: “Mommies only”.

But somehow, like everything during this pandemic, over time that rule slowly started to bend and stretch — usually to cut off a sibling quarrel at the pass. And now my special Mom Cave is just another place for them to watch way too much TV while mindlessly tossing aside their granola bar wrappers, apple cores and dirty plates.

So I’ve been chased outside.

There’s a beautiful path — a 15,000-year-old wetland, actually — within minutes of my house. I started walking on it during the first winter lockdown, when the icy snow transformed it into a slippery obstacle course. I continued through the spring, watching the buds slowly appear on the trees. And the summer, with the wildflowers in full-bloom.

I use this time to carve out space for me. Sometimes, I just listen to the sounds of nature — too tapped-out to absorb anything else. Other times, I throw on a podcast, audiobook, walking meditation or music. Occasionally, if my body feels like it, I run. Most of the time, it doesn’t — so I walk.

At a time when I’m so hyper in-tune to the needs of others, this 45 minutes at the start of my day gives me a chance to listen to myself. And, surprisingly, she has lots of things to say.

She’s bored of her job — and eager for a new challenge. She wants to save the world — and help in the fight against climate change. She craves to leave the house without an unwilling entourage in tow. She wants to live like the rest of her circle — like her husband and her colleagues and her friends whose kids still go to daycare, lockdown or not.

Sometimes, when the weight of everything is too much, she presses her nose up to the looking glass and watches the world continue on, as normal, in front of her. When she’s feeling really desperate, she screams for help, even though she knows no one can hear her. Or perhaps they choose not to hear her. Either way. The kids are taken care of. And that’s all that really matters.

I’d love to see them try

As women, we’re often encouraged to “take up space” — but what if there’s no space to take up? What if it’s been stolen, right under our feet?

First, your uninterrupted workspace. Then, your space to relax. Pretty soon, your professional space, silent space, mental head space and emotional space disappear — leaving little space for motivation. For recharging. For creativity.

This most recent Fourth Wave has me on high alert because I know, from experience, that when the pandemic surges, it comes crashing down on all my dreams and hopes and ideas. It washes them out, leaving little energy for anything but my day-to-day survival.

When the cases get too high, they close the schools — but I wonder how much thought they give to what happens next. I half-suspect our political leaders assume the kids retreat to a magical space — one where mystical unicorns and fairies and singing animals help them through their online studies. A space where children cheerily complete worksheet after digital worksheet. Where their desire to talk to, and play with, other kids doesn’t reduce them to tears on a daily basis.

What I wouldn’t give to invite them into our space — just for a day. To see how they fair balancing a full-time job with the roles of teacher’s aid, babysitter, snack monitor, chef and mental health counsellor. I would just love to see how they manage it all. Or, more accurately, how long it takes them to lose their cool.

Eat your dang pizza

By week six of the last school closure, my attempts at self-care had long fallen by the wayside. My lunch “break” was now spent scrambling to prep food for other people — and then eating the scraps left behind. I’d stopped exercising — and my mindfulness practice too. Oh — and my daily walks in the beautiful outdoors? Well, they were on an indefinite hiatus.

If I’d had a chance to make space for myself, I may have realized how much a particular work deadline was weighing on me. I might have been better equipped to handle the computer-resistant kids who were bemoaning their respective distance learning lessons. I wouldn’t have gotten so frustrated when my youngest refused the homemade pizza I so lovingly prepared for him the day before.

Maybe all those sensory inputs — all those emotions — wouldn’t have registered the way they did. The rage monster wouldn’t have grown quite so big. The expletives wouldn’t have flown quite so fast.

Maybe the Tupperware full of homemade pizza wouldn’t have hit the wall quite so hard.

Maybe The Hole would have never come to be.

Our little secret

But I’m not allowed to talk about that. About what happens when your space has been aggressively encroached upon for so long that something deep inside of you fights to break free.

It’s a sign of weakness. It’s a poor example. It’s embarrassing.

Good moms aren’t supposed to need space. And yet, from the first moment I discovered I was carrying my first child, I’ve been fighting to preserve mine. Personal space — free from the unwarranted belly touches and comments about my size. Professional space — adequate room to build a career and raise a family, without having to run myself ragged. Mental space — a chance to dream and think and create without the constant drain of the mental load.

The lack of respect for mothers’ space isn’t new — the pandemic merely ramped it up by throwing a lack of physical space into the mix. And in a world where space is power — where the more space you take up, the more your voice is heard — it’s hard not to feel a little ticked off by it all.

This isn’t what I was promised, when my white little self flew the nest to pursue a higher education. Or when I launched my white collar career. Or split the household bills down the middle. I stupidly thought those acts earned me a voice. And even though I’ve come to terms with my inability to read the fine print, I still find myself clinging to that false reality.

Or perhaps, more aptly, false hope. Hope that after 18 months of this pandemic someone, somewhere, would have found a way to spread the sacrifices around. To alleviate some of the burden from moms’ shoulders.

Hope for the future

I’d be lying if I don’t sometimes daydream about giving up the fight. I imagine just allowing the walls around me to inch closer and closer until my space disappears completely — sucking me, and every other mom, into a big black hole.

Once we’re gone, I imagine the world will come to a standstill — at least for a moment. Everyone will look around and say, “What now?”

They’ll awkwardly stumble over the shoes they have to fill — the empty Birkenstocks, runners and wedge heels — until they agree, in semi-horror, that the vacant job description is simply unfeasible.

“Unsustainable!” they’ll yell, as if there’s no way any human being could possibly complete this never-ending list of monumental tasks.

With no one crazy enough to step up to the challenge, the world will have no choice but to come together and devise a plan. A more equitable solution to the division of labor — one where everyone is guaranteed equal space, and where space is always honored and respected.

As they pat one another on the back, shake hands and sign on the dotted line, us moms will stare down from our alternate dimension, look at each other, and drop our jaws in disbelief.

“We’ve been crying out for help for, like, millennia. And this? This is all it took?”

Digesting the news, we’ll slowly recline — remembering that space and time mean nothing to us anymore — and shrug.

“Well, good for them. We wish them all the best.”



Vanessa Chris Cameron

I’m a b2b copywriter and hot mess mom with a passion for sustainability.