On What’s on top

This is a phrase that my boss uses quite often, as a conversation started.  What’s on top for you today?  As a person. As a team. As a service.  As a group.

What’s on top for me?


How do you even start to separate what is on top?

It is international women’s day again! That could be on top. I can’t decide how I feel about international women’s day this year.  Internationally, women are under fire. Women’s rights are under attack.  Women’s bodies are under a gaze so male and privileged that the weight of it is forcing us to stare back.  We are walking. We are fighting. We are playing games. We are speaking up.

Annie Lennox had something to say.

Aside from being a woman, I am also a midwife.  So what is on top there?


Despite a huge amount of work by a large number of people, we still don’t get paid fairly. There is a massive shortage of midwives globally, and who can be surprised when the working conditions and remuneration are so poor? Wait, am I still talking about women’s day?  Good gracious, but this is feeling like a negative post! What is good in midwifery?

Hear the roar, which I wrote about last week, was an event all about creating a positive movement for change in maternity care. About hearing the painful resonant wail for better care, for compassion, for partnership, for value.  Check out the videos from the event facebook page, even if you aren’t a midwife, or adoctor.  If you are a woman, or care for a woman, or ever want a child…. this is YOUR story.  It cannot just be us who make a change.  We need your voices.  We need your ROAR. that is what is on top for me, in midwifery.

I am also a mama.


What is on top there, I wonder?

Well.  One kid is homeless, in that kind of incredibly modern way, where homeless (meaning, they don’t have a home, and all their stuff is in storage, and they are sleeping in other peoples houses for an extended period of time) is viewed as a normal state of being because of a housing crisis which shows no sign of settling any time soon.  I would help them buy a house, but I can’t even help me buy a house, and have no willing relatives to give me a leg up on the property ladder so that I can do the same for them. They can’t come home, because jobs and study and commitments mean that they have to stay in the city they live in, not the city I live in… What has the world come to?

One kid is coming home next week, after an extended stay in a rehab facility.  While this kid is not biologically mine, I certainly still feel like her mama.  She has been brave, and I am excited to have her home.  But I am nervous.  She will have changed.  And if she hasn’t changed, then I don’t know what that will mean! And she is a mama, with a little man who needs to get used to having her back again, so my mama duties will be stepped up in a new and challenging way again.

I am a wife too!


I have barely seen the love of my life these last few weeks.  Both of us are working hard, trying to meet the needs of our kids, our jobs, our selves. So there isn’t a huge amount of time to make sure we are meeting each others needs.  Though, they aren’t very great, our needs. They are the touch of a hand, which connects two souls. The raise of an eyebrow that shows you are understood. The laugh at the bad joke that makes you feel accepted.  The hug that makes you feel held. And that always simple but incredibly important “I love you” that makes you know you are part of a team, no matter what.

A dear friend is facing up to the prospect of losing her love to the dreaded and awful C word.  I can’t help her, or even express to her how angry I am on her behalf… But, I can take the lesson, and the reminder to make space for my love, and be grateful for it, and to savour it. So that could be on top. For that matter, so could I be.

The challenge of being a woman, a midwife, a mama and a wife, is that you are all of those things all at the same time, even when all of them are hard.


So, what is on top may well depend on which tab is open.

When I started this, what was on top was confusion, messiness, a lack of clarity. A huge big pile of tasks that needed to be completed, as a midwife, as a woman, as a mama.   But then, the phone rang, and the caller told my husband that something sad and inevitable and so very very mundane has happened.  And everything changed. And now, I have to go be a wife, because that is what is on top.

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