Thursday, April 28, 2016

Maternity Leave is Not a Sabbatical

Today I read an article on the New York Post titled I want all of the perks of maternity leave without having any kids. I can’t even with this article.  At first I was speechless; but that lasted all of 30 seconds while I wiped the angry tears from my eyes.   Then the words wouldn’t stop coming.  After all of the inappropriate words got out of the way, I was left with this word vomit:

 Let’s just start with the title.  I’m sorry, I didn’t realize there were so many “perks” to maternity leave.  The only perk I remember was getting to actually spend a full day, week, with my kids.  And I like to think that it benefitted my children just as much, if not more, than it benefitted me.  Oh, my other favorite perk was the way I bled for 6 weeks straight.  And the way my body would decide to have contractions every once in a while after he was here.  That was super fun.
“…the more I came to believe in the value of a maternity leave – which is, to me, a sabbatical like break that allows women…to shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs“
“that socially mandated time and space for self-reflection may never come“
I’m going to start with these incredibly ignorant statements.  For the sake of not hating this woman, I’m going to just chalk it up to, she’s never had children, so she just doesn’t know.  I would never describe maternity leave, or staying at home, as sabbatical like.  I don’t know of many retreats that advertise “sleep deprivation“  “cracked nipples“  “clean up poop“  “listen to crying noises“  as their main selling points.  And unless you count my 3 am half-awake realization that it’s been 3…no 4 days since I last showered, as self-reflection, then no.  Just no.   The most self-reflective thing moms might realize during this time is that they do not want to leave their babies in 12 (or less) short weeks. 
Which leads me to, you want a real maternity leave, then you can’t have that without the maternity return.  So when you’re done with all of your self-reflecting, please continue with your schedule of waking up every three hours…because of course you did this during your fake maternity leave to make it as authentic as possible…and go back to work.  Maintain your previous level of functioning and energy. When you wake up in the morning, be sure to have someone throw milk at your outfit so that you have to change 3 times before you actually leave or just give in and go to work with a milk smudge on your jacket.  In order to plan for this, in addition to your nightly wake up routine you will also be waking up earlier to start getting ready for the day in the morning.  And once you’re at work, make sure that you have something pull on your nipples for 20 minutes 3 times a day.
But wait I’m not even to the hardest part.  After 12 (or less) weeks of being with my new baby who is still pretty much just as dependent on me as when he was born, now I have to leave him with someone else.  Every single day.  No matter how much I trust this person, they are not me.  I am not seeing his sweet eyes or smile when he wakes from a nap.  I am not making sure he gets as much tummy time as I want him to throughout the day.  I am not making sure he is read to or sung to or played with.  Instead, every day I am saying goodbye to him.  Ripping my heart out, trying not to cry.  So I don’t even know how to draw a comparison to this one for you.  I guess just imagine someone stomping on your chest a few times a day. 

And then there’s this, “I couldn’t help but feel envious when parent son staff left the office at 6 p.m. to tend to their children, while it was assumed coworkers without kids would stay behind to pick up the slack. “  I can’t speak for your coworkers, but I can speak for myself and the countless other working moms I know, and this is a bunch of BS.  I put in my time and I work my behind off to make sure that I am always caught up, always getting my work done before deadlines, always staying focused, trying to minimize times of distraction so that I can leave on time.  Not so others can pick up my slack.  I know moms who show up to work an hour before everyone else in order to have more time with their children in the evening.  I know moms who take short, or no, lunch breaks so that they can leave on time.  You know what, you can do this too.  Please leave at 6pm.  But I better not see you on your phone or taking extended breaks or wasting time away, because I know that’s what I’m doing, so that I can maximize the tiny bit of awake time I have with my children in the afternoon.
There is much more.  So much more.  I am offended by pretty much everything she said in this article.  I hope this article gets backlash.  It is offensive to working moms everywhere.  But I have to stop here because my lunch break is over and I have to go back to my job now.