I finally did it. This week I finally opened up my work email. I had about 30 messages with the subject “your mailbox is full.” And more than 2500 other unread emails. I was perfectly happy letting it stay full. But I’m now just a few weeks away from returning to work and it is time for me to send the email I had been dreading since the day my baby was born. It’s time to find out when my official start date will be.
I won’t lie. A part of me is really looking forward to going back to work. I love what I do and I’m excited to jump back into the world of international news. But another part of me is having a major panic attack. How am I going to leave my three and a half month old for 10 hours a day? I tend to get anxious when I’m having dinner with friends and I’m a way from him for only two hours. I’m really lucky because I will be leaving him with an amazing nanny who he already loves. . But I will have to let go and get myself used to the fact that my son will not be spending the day the way I want him to spend it. I will be sharing his most precious moments and milestones with someone else. I will cry my eyes out every morning when I leave him.
It just feels too soon to go. Why is it that the great United States has the worst maternity leave policies of the developed world. In Canada, moms get 52 weeks off work during this life changing experience. The same is true for the U.K and other parts of Europe. In France, both moms and dads get to take a combined 104 weeks off work. Even Afghanistan has better laws concerning maternity leave. The law there requires women to take 12 weeks off work with 100% of their pay. In fact, the law in the U.S. does not require a company to pay moms anything, though most get some of their salary through short-term disability. We are forced to choose between having the opportunity to be good moms or to be successful career women. And most of us don’t even really have that choice. We have to work in order to help provide for our families.
I think it’s time for another wave of feminism in the U.S., one that celebrates the idea of being both a mother and a career women. We can do it all, if our country will give us the chance. It’s too late for me. Come mid-January, I’ll have to leave my baby for work before he even recognizes that I am his mom.
Moms, what are your experiences with going back to work?