|Mama and son in Barbados|
Mama was happy.
This story is about burnout. About that feeling you have when you have so many worries and brightly colored post-its stuck inside your head that you mainly just walk around your house looking at things.
My particular form of burnout started in December, when my mother came to visit with a large parasite on her neck. Cancer is weird that way. This thing just grew and grew and grew until it just sucked her away.
I made her a party for New Year's:
Then I got back to work. In January, I organized a big doula workshop with my friend Debra Pascali-Bonaro. It was wonderful, all things doula, all the doula students ... the hotel was crap, I learned my lesson about cheap hotels. The food was great - having a chef for a son is a bonus (yes, I paid him).
I also attended five births that month. I realized during some of those experiences that I had to stop attending hospital births for a while. I couldn't bear to see unnecessary things done to women by people who had not bothered to educate themselves about the birth process.
I studied like crazy for my CPM written exam. When my second son (the boy in the picture!) was born 28 years ago, I realized I wanted to become a midwife. Not because I had a wonderful birth experience but because in fact I was horrified by the approach and the touch of my birth attendants, and I was drawn to treating women with love.
I wrote my exam, and I passed!!! Now I am a Certified Professional Midwife.
Then the parasite on my mother's neck took over my life, from February until March when she finally passed away, I was caring for her, sometimes from a distance, sometimes right by her side.
Home death isn't all its cracked up to be. Death can be pretty awful, really. I've seen death and its never so nice, but my mother's death was hard.
And so to mourning and grief. In the Jewish faith, you just sit for a week and don't do anything. This is good. Then for another three weeks your activities are limited. This is also good.
I have taken good care of myself over the past month. I realized that some of my big disappointments over the past few months are really little - the rejection slips piled up, so? So I started running again, back up to 4 k, and working on it. I want to get to ten by the end of the summer. I eat well. I try to do fun things. I cherish my kids and my family.
What is the cure for burnout? Be gentle on yourself! This means being able to walk around the house and look at things. To stand in the middle of a room and think for a few minutes. To have a piece of chocolate.
It also means saying no when you need to. Not always, but when you need to. It means making sure you have a couple of friends you can call when the going gets tough. It means not taking yourself too seriously. It means pushing yourself to get some exercise. It means starting slowly to get yourself back at work and play, but starting! Start off slowly if you need to, but you will need to. Burn-out can't last for too long, because then it becomes chronic tiredness and pain or illness. Treat yourself like a pussy cat for as long as you can, but when its time to get moving again, you will know it.
This particular pussy cat is so happy to be back from the edge! My energy is solid and growing. I am back in the birthing room, after some time away. I have my patience back. I am looking forward to an active and productive year, as the MBC Doula School blooms and MBC continues to provide service for those who are in need.
Thank you for traveling with me for these past difficult months - the list is long, you know who you are.