Archive for the tag 'working from home'

On my shoulders

NS June 9th, 2010

I stood in Noble Boy’s room at 9.15pm last night, rocking him, singing to him softly and with tears running down my face. I was slightly annoyed that he wasn’t in bed yet, yes, but it was much more than that; it was the crushing weight of responsibility for his health and well-being.

Earlier in the day, he had had a scary episode upon waking from his nap, wherein he screamed and raged and kicked and writhed with such force and for so long (25 minutes) that for a moment I thought he was having a seizure or was choking.  He howled and turned red and bent his back in such contortions that I feared it would snap. The terror in his eyes mirrored my own. What was happening to my little boy? He arched away from me so violently that it felt like Rejection itself had inhabited his limbs. I sat on the floor and cried with him, both of us desperate for whatever it was to ease its grip.

Finally, it went. He choked out, “Mama!” and held his arms up to me, ready for a cuddle. He clung to me like a baby monkey and sighed great big hiccuping sobs into my neck. I rubbed and patted and sang and whispered and soothed. Fifteen minutes later he was running around after his sister, laughing and chomping on a snack. He was fine but I felt like a ghost for the rest of the day.

So that night, when he wouldn’t go to sleep and I heard him crying in his cot after NH’s third attempt at calming him had failed, I climbed the stairs once more and scooped him into my arms, even though I had a ton of work to do downstairs. He needed lots of cuddles and reassurance so I had a long time to stand there in the dark, thinking.

I was thinking about my first doula client interview, which is today, and the conversation I’d had with my mother-in-law when I’d had to ask her to come watch the children while I raced off to the dentist at 4pm and then straight onto a train at 5 to be with the client at 6. Noble Husband would leave work early and be home by 6 to relieve her, would that be okay? It was, but only just. She had other plans and would have to change or delay them accordingly. I felt bad. I felt guilty. I felt frustrated.

This work-life balance stuff, the childcare arranging and juggling, the endless ‘favours’ being called in — it’s all on my shoulders. I’m the woman, I’m the mother, I’m the one who has to try to carve out a career after her other commitments have been met. For my husband (and most other ‘breadwinners’) it’s the other way around; work comes first and family is squeezed around its looming pillar of worth. I can’t go anywhere or do anything on my own without my mental tally of who I can count on, what time x or y has to happen and how early I can get NH home. It’s exhausting.

Taking care of these little people all day, trying to make a career work and creating my own sense of self…it’s really difficult to feel confident and autonomous when you’re dependent on others for everything; their salary and cooperation (NH), their flexibility and willingness (mum-in-law) and your children to not to scoop the contents of your heart out, day by day.

Eventually, I realised that NB was not going to let go of me and settle in his own bed so I carried him through to mine. I laid down beside him and stroked the soft skin of his arms and face as he took comfort in the warm milk and closeness my body provides. He drifted off to sleep, finally. And even though my eyelids were heavy and I wanted to stay with him, to stay cuddled up with my baby, I knew a mound of paperwork and dishes awaited me downstairs. I disentangled myself from his embrace and crept away, stealing one last glance at his face in the moonlight.

Sometimes, the weight on my shoulders is lifted just long enough to set me afloat.

Ready, set…doula!

NS May 24th, 2010

I completed my training this weekend and after I write a ‘reflection paper’ and read one more book, I’ll be a doula. Once I’m on the UK-wide directory I should (hopefully) start getting clients. CLIENTS. Which means interviews, paperwork, contracts, research, meeting strangers in the hopes they like me and then, finally, attending births and helping mothers with their newborns. Holy shit, I’m going to be a DOULA!

I don’t think I had realised just how big a deal this was until I actually began the course. But this isn’t just an interest now, or something I write or talk about,  it’s my career. I have a new career and will be running my own business. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. Truly. I walked out of the course on the second day bursting with enthusiasm. I couldn’t go home, I was too full of energy. It took a few hours and a few glasses of wine to bring me back to earth.

I was worried for awhile that by becoming a doula I was somehow giving up on the writing, that it was an admission of defeat. But I’ve come to realise that a) that’s not true, I can still write and, once I’ve got the doula business ticking over quite nicely, still pursue a writing career or begin writing that book I’ve been mulling over; and b) becoming a doula will actually expand my involvement in maternity reform and feminist mothering, thereby giving me more contacts, hands-on experience and ideas for my book; and c) the money I earn from being a doula will take the financial pressure off of my writing, letting me relax about the whole thing a little. So it will be a win-win, I believe.

Now I just need three pregnant ladies in the South West London or Surrey areas to be my first clients. I’ll be dirt cheap while I’m a trainee so if you or anyone you know is pregnant, due this summer/early autumn and thinking about hiring a doula, keep me in mind!

And never fear, Noble Savage isn’t going anywhere. I may post slightly less than usual for a few weeks while I get my head around it all and get the business side organised but I’m keeping this site (and Fertile Feminism) going, definitely.

This feels good. It feels right. And I can’t wait to get started.