Maternity Leave Madness

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?

Maternity Leave Madness

3 thoughts on “Maternity Leave Madness

  1. Maya's mama says:

    I felt a deep pang of pain in my heart just thinking about going to work. Every day for the last month I would tear up at the thought. Nothing anybody said made me feel better. I hated most of all those gasps from women who just let me know without shame how horrible it is that I am going back to work. Well, it’s the best thing I ever did. I realized quickly that I had lost myself in my own child. Maya couldn’t be with anyone but me. She didn’t even sit with her own father for more than a few minutes without wailing for me again. The best thing I ever did for Maya was go back to work: she interacts with more people as a result, I am a better mommy because I have time away, we spend more quality one on one time together, her college fund is building faster…and the list goes on. They cut the umbilical cord at birth for a reason: our kids need to learn how to survive without mama. While I agree that maternity leave in the US is pathetic, I say go back to work with your head held high and a feeling of security that your baby will be better for it! Don’t be afraid to cry and have dear friends on speed dial to talk to about your feelings. Mama you will be okay!!

  2. Rania says:

    I’m currently grappling with all of these issues with my 5 month old. The biggest hurdle I’ve found is one which you seem to have transitioned smoothly into, which is learning to trust someone who is not a family member with your baby. I’ve been interviewing nannies and researching day care providers and I instantly go into hyper-critical mode, searching for the smallest flaw to cross them off my list.

    How do you learn to develop that trust, because to many women that’s the biggest step towards going back to work with some sanity intact.

    1. I know that can be very tough. I hired his nanny when he was only three weeks old so that I can see her work. It turns out she is wonderful. I think it’s harder to let go the older they get because you are so used to doing things your way. In my case I learned from his nanny who has far more experience with babies than I do. So we work together for what is best for him. The best way to know if you get along with someone is to actually try them out. Keep us posted on what happens. Thank you for commenting .

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