Ep05: Not Judging


Norah: I had been decanted from my flat, and I lived in an awful flat. I had my daughter Lucy, at the time, she was one, it was quite close to Stepping Stones farm and I used to visit there quite a lot. It was a kind of sanctuary really. Met Eva and we’ve been friends ever since. Good friends. Been through an awful lot.

Eva: My name is Eva Turner. I was born in 1948 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Norah: I’m Norah Parkin. I was born in Nottinghamshire in 1956. I live in Tower Hamlets.

[theme music]

Rosa: I’m Rosa Schling, I’m a new parent, and I’ve been recording memories of childcare and parenting in London’s East End. This is Holding the Baby, an On the Record podcast.

Eva: Anyway, I needed to work, I needed to work because we had little money and I wanted to work at the time, and I needed someone to look after Hannah for me. And Norah agreed to be my childminder.

In those days childminders were not vetted in any way. I trusted Norah and I trusted Hannah with her.

Norah: I felt privileged to look after Hannah because, to trust someone else with the most precious thing you have, is special.

How did it feel at first, leaving Hannah in someone else’s care?

Norah: You were a little bit torn in the first week I would say.

Eva: You know, once I got to know Norah that was easier, because leaving Hannah with a friend, who I trusted, was possible.


Norah: I didn’t want to go to work until they were at least at nursery, if not school. To me it was the most important thing, to be their mum. I was a single mum as well.

Oh were you? Okay.

Norah: And my mum was always at work. I honestly can say that I don’t think I knew my mum til I was in my mid-twenties really.

Eva: Yeah, we grew up with working parents. My relationship with my mother was very different than yours, my mother was very tactile, very maternal, but she worked six days a week. That had to be, and we grew up on the streets, and I didn’t know anything else and I couldn’t imagine being at home.

Norah: I don’t think that the fact parents want to work, or need to work, whichever way it is, means they are not good parents. I think it means they are good parents, because they want to provide for their children. But also, when you see your children you just appreciate each other loads, don’t you.


Eva: The difference being, I had two jobs, I had the whole household, I had one and later two small children, and it was a struggle. And it was permanent rush and permanent stress. But I’ve never had that need to be a full-time mum, I never wanted to.

Norah: That’s all I ever wanted.

Eva: Because I would have gone bonkers.

Norah: Yes, yeah we talked about that quite a lot, didn’t we, when they were younger.

It’s nice that you two could talk about it, that you weren’t judging each other in some way.

Eva: No, no

Norah: Not at all. I try not to judge people anyway, but I certainly wouldn’t judge anyone if they went back to work if their baby was eight weeks old. If that works for them then, you know, what is that to me?

Eva: I don’t think I love my children less than anyone else, you know. I just couldn’t imagine myself spending all the time with them, it sounds horrible at the moment but I would go bonkers

Norah: You’d go bonkers. That makes absolute sense – for you.

[music and end credits]

Eva and Norah met at Stepney City Farm when they were both new parents in the mid-1980s and formed a friendship that lasts to this day. They discuss their different paths: Eva returned to work outside the home while Norah became her childminder.