As a midwife in private practice, I am almost always on call. From the time any client is three weeks before her due date until she births, I am at the ready. That means that I always am within earshot of my phone that my gas tank is at least a quarter full, that I do not drink a second glass of wine, that I going to bed early just in case....
Vacation for many people means time away: time at the beach, time at their camp or cabin, traveling to a destination like Disney or Paris.
For me, vacation means all of that. But, more importantly, vacation for me means that I can walk away from my phone, that I can be out of cell range, that I can have a second glass of wine, that I can stay up late reading for the sheer pleasure of reading until my eyes are blurry, not concerned that I will be called out at any moment. At this point in my life, vacation means that for a brief period of time, I can take care of just me.
Currently, I am on vacation. I have left my practice and its beloved clients in the able hands of my office staff and a wonderful midwife colleague. Probably none of my clients will need anything urgent from the midwife covering my practice, but if they do, she will be there for them.
For my whole life, various what-if's have spoken loudly in my head. This is a character trait that both helps and hurts me. For me, to be on vacation means that the basic answer to a what-if is "someone else can handle it". On vacation, I remind myself that I am not indispensable, the worldly gets on without me, that my practice gets on fine without me, that my clients do just fine without me. (It is a good thing for all sentient beings to remember their unimportance from time to time.)
Last night, I sat on the patio and even walked to the second floor of this house while my phone stayed silent in the basement apartment. I had a cocktail before dinner and a lovely glass of Chardonnay with the meal. I stayed up quite late reading Louise Penny's second novel, Dead Cold.
This morning, I type in a cozy bed on the West Coast, far from my house, my office, my clients, far even from my car with its tankful of gas. I sit, type, and glance out the window at a hillside of riotous and carefully tended color. (Back home, the grass is still brown, tree leaves are just beginning to swell, and a few hardy daffodils are holding their frilled heads up.)
For a week, thousands of miles from my practice, I am actively remembering that I am both important and unimportant. I am a midwife on vacation.
K. Michelle Doyle
May all babies be born into loving hands