17 Mar 2017

One-Armed Armies

Post written by: Erin Walcon

There’s a billboard advertisement that I keep driving by on my way to the Doorstep office this week. I think it’s for Sainsburys, or another big supermarket and it features a woman, holding a baby on her hip, and a wok in the other hand. The title on the billboard reads ‘Mandy’s one-armed stir fry’ or similar. She is smiling knowingly out at all the cars whizzing by, a sardonic eyebrow lift… a sense that she is fully in control, that this stir fry will be delicious and nutritious, that the baby is well fed, clean, content. She is having it all, doing it all.

Often as I’ve driven past this billboard this week, my own baby has been wailing from the backseat. In my decidedly untidy car, with my unkempt personage slightly wild-eyed behind the wheel – racing from a school run, or back to a school pick up. Mentally composing emails that I won’t have the fingers free to type for another 3 days. Listening to global news which is so far worse than anything I could have imagined it stuns and baffles me into an aghast numb silence. And yet, my mind returns to Mandy.

Why does Mandy irritate me? I think it over to myself, with my half a brain cell free to mull it over, in between loads of laundry and piles of dishes and stacks of unpaid domestic labour and further radio reports of governments slashing budgets and building walls. Later, collapsing into bed, my brain cell finally stutters out its conclusion. Mandy irritates me because she is standing alone on that billboard, smiling at her wok.

My own often one-armed life is sustained by a web of remarkable women who help and bolster and make impossible things possible. Their arms are mighty and they wield them with compassion. Doorstep’s work is driven by a network of strong, intelligent, committed women, who all are working around enormous obstacles of care-giving, family-support, and invisible labour. It’s an army. And, yes, at various points, each of us is one-armed or no-armed, but we have each other’s backs.

Since I don’t have billboard printing skills, I’ll instead use the tools at my disposal and write instead – even if I’m pecking it out with one finger in 30 second bursts.

Finding the time to write is hard.

A short piece I wrote about the Resilience Web just came out in the March 2017  issue of Research in Drama Education. It’s about this stuff too.

Finding time to write is hard, but important.