I stepped into the production room, and this giant cutting table immediately caught my sight. It had a heavily worn metal ruler fixed onto one of its edges – such a workhorse.
We acquired this company in 2010. My wife wanted to get into something creative. Curtain Witchery was a small scale curtain manufacturer. It employed nine ladies with almost a hundred years of curtain making experience between them.
The previous owner could not cope with the demands of running a small workshop. Hence, we bought it cheap. It was almost too good to be true. We fell in love with it, with a romantic idea of running a busy workshop, creating arts.
“I cannot believe it,” my wife said to me.
”It’s ours now,” I replied.
“Yup, it is.”
”Are you ready for the big opening tomorrow?”
Our first few weeks there were slightly confusing with a steep learning curve. There were times that Eve would call headless-chicken days. I figured out that she was talking about herself. She was the chicken. The other ladies, they were fearless witches.
”How do you all manage?” Eve asked Marg, one of the ladies. “There are so many things to do.”
”We just keep working I guess,” Marg replied.
”Well, in that case, could we skip morning tea today?”
”No, sorry ma’am, no morning tea, no work.”
I am telling you, those ladies, they might have been old, but they were fierce.
”You’re pregnant?” I could not believe my ears. “But we only just bought the business! How are we going to cope?”
”Well, I don’t know,” Eve said. “We’ll figure it out along the way I suppose.”
“Oh, I am sorry dear, it didn’t come out right,” I said. “I love you, and the little baby in your tummy too.”
Luckily, things did get easier in the months following our little pregnancy discovery. We figured out a better system to run the workshop. We had indeed become one of the curtain witches.
”This is your second child, right?” Liz, one of the ladies, asked Eve.
”Yes, it is,” Eve replied.
”Busy days ahead, Eve.”
”I know, I know,” Eve smiled.
”Hubby can help I’m sure of it,” Liz smiled back.
”O yes he will,” Eve said confidently.
Well, nine months went quickly, and it was time for baby girl to be born.
”Tomorrow is the day, you will be induced,” I said.
”I know,” she replied.
We came early in the morning, the doctor was ready, and it was supposed to be an easy procedure. It would have been a lovely morning if that phone had not rung. Jane, one the ladies, had decided to ring at that exact moment.
”Hello, yes, Eveline is giving birth, yes, right at this moment!” I said on the phone. “What? You’re worried about not getting paid overtime?”
”She is giving birth now, can we talk about it later?” I growled.
I could not believe it. I knew I should not have picked up that phone. I did not know what had gotten into me. I mean who picks up a phone when his wife is giving birth?
”Have you slept?” I asked Eve as I saw her wide awake on the hospital bed.
”She looks like a Natasha,” she replied.
”Really? Natasha sounds mysterious.”
”No, she is Michaela,” Eve then decided.
”Michaela sounds more like her,” I said.
Eve and Michaela spent a few more days in the hospital, adjusting to the new routine. She did not sleep much which worried me.
”Your baby is so cute Eveline,” Linda our workshop supervisor said.
”Is she our new assistant?” Marg said.
”Yeah, she will be fine on the cutting desk,” Jane smiled.
Everyone seemed to enjoy having Michaela around despite our never-ending jobs.
”How are you coping with Michaela in the workshop?” I phoned Eve from my office.
”It is a challenge, but we’ll manage,” she said confidently.
”What? Linda had an accident?” Eve was panicking.
Linda, our supervisor, had an accident in the workshop. She fell over a roll of fabric and hurt her left arm. Her old age did not help either as the doctor said it would take at least three months for her to recover.
“She cannot work for three months?” I asked Eve. “Who is going to cut the fabrics? Who is going to supervise the ladies?”
”Well, I guess I have to fill in for the next three months then,” Eve said.
”Ohh, you will be very busy, and tired too.”
”It’s only three months, we’ll manage,” she said.
The following three months were some of the busiest time we ever had in our lives. Some days got worse when Michaela decided to cry at 3am. Why, o why, would you cry at 3am little girl?
”Sorry hunny, I have to go super early this morning,” Eve said to me on a Monday morning. “Can you help prepare Kiera for school? I’ll bring Michaela with me.”
Eve had been coming earlier to the workshop to get more things done. In the meantime, I tried to help by doing my bit to take care of Kiera, our eldest child.
”Hi, are you still there? Do you need help?” I called Eve as it was getting a bit late at night.
”Yup, still here, I need to stay a bit longer to finish a job,” she said.
”Ok, I’ll make dinner then, Kiera said she wanted fried eggs,” I replied.
”Are you sure you’re ok?” I asked again. “I can hear Michaela crying.”
”Yes, she cried because I took away the fabric she was chewing.”
Eve came home at 11 pm that night. Michaela was already asleep in the car. I carried our baby girl in and put her in her little cot. Eve went straight to the bedroom and slept.
”Hunnnyyyy! Linda is back!” Eve said with her smile wide open.
”Oooohhh … thank God,” I said.
”Yes, the storm is over,” she replied.
“Wow I cannot believe it, she’s back.”
“Believe it, she is.”
“How are you feeling?”
“Relieved,” she smiled.
“Hah .. same here” I smiled back.
Linda was finally back at the workshop. She recovered well. The doctor put some kind of metal connector to strengthen her bone. We called her the Iron Lady from that moment on.
Everything was back to normal and no more late night work, yay!
”It’s a good day today,” I said to Eve while holding Michaela in my arms.
”Yeah, look at her cute face,” she replied, trying hard not to smooch her.
”She cries a lot, but her face is so adorable.”
”Aha .. with that face she would get away with many things.
”It was a hard few months, it was not perfect, but we made it,” Eve said slowly.
”And we’ll do it again, and again, and again.”
”Yes, together,” she smiled as she was holding my arm.
“Juggling work and parental responsibilities is no easy task, but I’m trying my best, and just like everything else there are good days, and there are bad days.” — Ali Landry