I have been agonizing lately over how to convey what exactly it is that I do. I’ve been calling myself a postpartum doula for the past few years, since I am certified as such, but that is such a small piece of the overall picture. Plus, most people have no idea what it is anyway, so I might as well call myself a “squid wrangler” for all of the clarity I convey with the phrase “postpartum doula”. Actually, scratch that. Squid wrangler at least conjures up a mental picture.
Anyway, I love doula work. I love helping new parents and watching them grow in their confidence. I even love organizing nurseries and folding those sweet little baby clothes! But I also love older babies – I love the babbling stage, the period where hiding behind your hand earns you squeals and giggles, I love the sitting up and toppling over stage. I love the standing, the first steps, first solid foods, first signs, first words. I love 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 year olds. I love watching kids learn and grow at every stage. I’ve spent the last 19 years, since I started babysitting at age 11, absorbing as much information as I could about kids, babies, diapers, birth, breastfeeding, you name it. In college, I majored in Child Development (and got an A+ on my senior paper for Honors Infant Development thankyouverymuch). I have taught preschool, kindergarten, and middle school; consulted with parents on special needs and special education; taken care of all manner of babies and children across a broad spectrum of parenting styles and philosophies, and told many, many moms to relax, because they were doing a great job and to trust me – because I’ve seen it all.
I think the title for someone who spends as much time as I do thinking and talking about parenting is “Mom”, but I haven’t earned that one yet.
I’m not a nanny anymore, so that doesn’t work. I will always be a teacher, even if I gave up the public school job, but it’s more than that, too. As we saw above, “postpartum doula” doesn’t work. “Coach” makes me feel like I should be wearing a whistle around my neck, “consultant” – a business suit and power heels.
Here’s what I do: I help new parents release fear, anxiety, and guilt, so that they can become the awesome, confident parents they’ve always thought they’d be – having fun and enjoying their kids and knowing that they’re doing a great job.
Now, to fit that on a business card… 😉