A fellow post-partum doula (or as I still think to myself – a real doula) told me on first meeting me in October right after I moved to the Bay area, that she felt like I needed a hug and a lot of support just like a post-partum mom because I had just moved. And this is how I have been feeling. This is partly why I have not felt like I have it in me to support anybody but my immediate family and even that is challenging, hence the doula work has not really been a priority. One really needs to take care of oneself before taking care of others or helping anybody. So I went to yoga yesterday. A very nice studio not far from home (which is extra-ordinary, as Outer Richmond definitely does not sport a wealth of local businesses) called Purusha Studio, that had surprisingly raving reviews on yelp. I enjoyed my class too. So my New Year’s Resolution on this blog will be to work more on my post-partum doula career and on this website, to update the permanent part of it and to post at least once a week. Happy New Year!!!!
While I am still in the process of writing about my postpartum doula training (and it is coming along), I have to tell about a more recent experience. Since Oliver is going to be four in February, we have to start looking into schools for him. A NOTE FOR MY LATVIAN READERS: For reasons that would take too long to analyze (but I am guessing have a lot to do with the fact that the pre-school education is getting more and more learning oriented thus more like school), most parents in the US refer to the place where their children (as young as two years old sometimes) go as school. In any case, we feel that he will be ready for some kind of supervised regular social and creative involvement with other children next fall, and have started to research it, as the process in the US resembles that of a college application. There are forms to be filled, kids get interviewed, tested and both. And some even take preparation classes to do better on the assessment tests. It is wild…. And you can probably kind of guess where I would stand on all this.
My line has always been – I grew up in a public school, in fact, most schools are still public in Latvia, and got pretty good education (my grandmother did have to use her chemistry teaching connections to get me into a non-neighborhood school though) and if parents are involved in their kids educational journey, one does not have to pay almost 20 thousand USD per year to ensure that their kid would be educated. And it is probably true, if they are lucky to meet inspirational teachers along the way. The problem is, however, that I don’t want my children just to be educated. I want them to enjoy learning as a creative process. Something that was probably lacking in my schooling years (I did grow up under communism, you know). So…. This is where Waldorf comes in.
There is a public school in Latvia operating on Waldorfian principles, and there are pre-schools (we call all education before first grade kindergarten, but that could be confusing for American parents) that operate on these principles (private and public). My sister who has a five year old daughter and I have discussed the benefits and drawbacks of this education, because she knows a fair number of young adults who have completed it. So, I was familiar with the practice if not so much with the principles. But it would have never entered my mind to even think of sending Oliver to the one in San Francisco, as the kindergarten tuition for next year is $ 18,300 (gasp, gasp)!!! So how come I did attend their open house this Saturday? Which btw was an event in itself as my father-in-law babysat our 15 months old daughter on his own for the first time and they did very sweetly together.
That’s where the doula connection comes into play. Out of the 17 women participating at the postpartum doula training two weeks ago, two mothers had their children in Waldorf school. That is a considerable number, considering that about 1/2 of the women did not have school-age children. And they were the ones who encouraged me to look into the school, even though there is no way we can afford it. They assured me that if I loved the philosophy, there would be a way to do it, because there is tuition assistance. So, that’s how we ended up at the open house this weekend, which took 3 hours to complete, and during which I participating in playing a pumpkin, sat in a 6th grade classroom and listened about the stories they hear each year, had tasty home-made snacks and talked to the parents and graduates. It was very inspirational. Money aside it would be a great school for Oliver, but money is not the only factor. Once a Waldorf kid, it would be hard to transition into something else (not impossible, as one of the women I talked to had her daughter transfer out in the 3rd grade for personal reasons and it went very well), and to think of eventually committing two children to that kind of education expenses!!!
Oliver stayed at the childcare, while the parents played pumpkins and drank tea. He enjoyed it. And I learned one good lesson. In our backyard, there won’t be any tree-house built by the adults. We will provide our children with materials and they will build their house themselves … over and over again….
“Hello world” was the generic heading used by WordPress, but I decided to keep it as it is very appropriate to what I am trying to accomplish. To reach out to the world. It is a new experience to me, as until now I have only written a personal blog that a hand-full of my friends would read. And most of it in Latvian, which is my native language.
This is new and different, because I am intending this blog as a professional outlet, a place to reflect both as a social anthropologist and a postpartum doula in training. I have just moved to the US from Latvia… once again. I was in college on the East Coast from 1996 – 2000, married a man from the West Coast, have lived in several different countries (Kosovo and Croatia included) and in New York City, and now finally it looks like we are settling down (whatever that means, but for me it means that there is no immediate plan of departure). In San Francisco… in the house where my husband grew up, Richmond District.
All I know about my new house is that you can see the ocean from the terrace (when there is no fog, which there often is), that there is a garden that noone has taken care of for a long time and that we will move there some time in November.
With two young children, I tend to work on this site late at night, when they are asleep, therefore it is taking a while. I am intending several informational sections that would be permanent, on postpartum doulas, natural parenting (including my views on natural world, toys, use of technology and birthing naturally) and breastfeeding (I am hoping to share practical advice, as i have nursed for… hmmm… almost four years now, but this part of the site is under construction). There is a section on books I recommend that already has a fair amount of recommendations. I only have to work more on the Advanced Parent part.
All in all, I am very excited about this, but also apprehensive. I am worried whether I would manage to walk that fine line between professionalism and being always truthful, later being the quality that I value a lot in people (unless it is mean-spirited) and especially if it is directed to oneself. I am not yet prepared to share my most intimate thoughts with the ultimate unknown of the internet never-ending universe, on the other hand – what is more intimate than childbirth and the first days after the birth of your child, the postpartum time? I am also not intending to write about my future clients (unless they permit to share the story, and even then, I have been trained quite well to protect my informant’s personal data while conducting research in social anthropology).
I expect that there will be a fair amount of cultural comparison in this blog, me having just moved from Latvia and all. That by default usually creates a lot of turmoil. Please forgive me in advance. I do not mean to offend anybody. In fact, I am sometimes too eager not to offend anybody that I may not speak out at all, but then again, I value the truth above anything.
I don’t know how long blog-posts are supposed to be, this seems a bit too long already. I will end now and will go to bed.