Jessica Holmes is best known for her hilarious, spot-on impressions of pop icons like Celine Dion and Liza Minelli. As a member of The Royal Canadian Air Farce, she’s one of this country’s elite comediennes. But when Jessica and I recently chatted for an hour in between her rehearsals for the new Ross Petty family musical Robin Hood, it was clear that her passion for funny has been tempered by motherhood.
The irony of Jessica’s obsession with her two kids, is that just four years ago she had absolutely zero interest in children. When her husband actor Scott Yaphe asked her to promise to have kids, her dry reply was, “I’m more than my womb.” Two years after later, Jessica woke up and “had to have a kid that day. My biological clock had kicked in and my husband had to lie there while I made babies on him.”
The road to motherhood was no laughing matter for Jessica. It took eight months to conceive. When she finally discovered she was pregnant, she was ecstatic…until her third month when it appeared she had had a miscarriage. She was sent for an agonizing ultra sound to confirm her baby was lost. Two days later her doctor called to say she was still pregnant.
It was at that early stage, even before birthing her baby that Jessica says she starting feeling like a mom and making life changes to accommodate the baby while it was still in her tummy.
When her daughter Alexa was born in 2006, Jessica was hopelessly, desperately and madly in love. Then thirteen months ago, she happily welcomed her son Jordy into the world. But like most of us, Jessica found the nonstop caretaking of newborns exhausting. “I’m an actress. I was used to having time to take care of myself with massages and going out with girlfriends. Alexa was a clingy baby. We were up every two hours nursing. I was exhausted.”
On top that, Jessica developed insomnia and remembers sleeping no more than 3 hours a night for a year, not a healthy beginning for any mother emotionally or physically.
“I wish I had stopped breastfeeding at six months and treated myself well. I feel sorry for the woman I was. I was trying to keep up with the Supermoms.”
Add to that an early end to mat leave and we have one seriously neurotic mummy. “I had to commit to jobs before I had the baby. Then baby comes out and I’m a bit crazy when I’m away from her. I would have these weird irrational thoughts that she would forget who I was.”
At eight weeks post delivery, Jessica was back making people laugh in her Celine wig on RCAF. For the next four months, whenever there was a break in shooting she’d scurry over to her dressing room where her daughter and mom were waiting for her. “I felt like I had to power love her, supersize our time together, because I had read those books that said being around her 24 hours a day was best.”
And then the season ended and crazy pace stopped.
Jessica had the luxury of experiencing life as a stay at home mom. And she went nuts in that other kind of way – You know, that “Help I need some to myself” cry for help?
“Suddenly I’m not fulfilling my creative side. I need to be commuting with a giant audience. It does something for my soul. It completes me.”
Jessica’s biggest obstacle to finding her way through the maze of mummydom was letting other people determine what balance is for her. “Once I realized no book, no other mom, neighbor or family member had the answer, I found the confidence to decide what kind of mother I was.”
Her solutions: Spend four-hour chunks of time with her kids,. “Anything more than four hours and my patience starts to wane,” she admits candidly. “And our house looks like a tornado hit a garage sale and that’s ok.”
And what about the funny in the mummy? “I’m more about having fun with my kids than being funny these days. Most of my humor comes from stories from my moms group. It’s more honest humor than doing impressions. But I’m still funny. I just have less energy.”