The Gluten Bigot: A Rant About Maternity Leave

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Rant About Maternity Leave


This is probably not going to be what you expect, and I acknowledge in advance that I may be eating my words...

For those who don't know, I'm Canadian. From Canada. Big cold state up north. In addition to being the land of socialized healthcare, with a good education system, and a bunch of other things, it is a country which over a decade ago introduced a year long paid maternity leave. You're not fully paid, but you're paid 55% of up to the national average salary for one year, and your employer must hold your job or give you an equivalent one upon your return. Pretty sweet deal right?
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I live in America now. How long was my maternity leave in America? 12 weeks. It was not fully paid, in fact the legally don't have to pay me at all. Many women are only get (or can only afford) to take 6 weeks. My life ain't bad. However, it is always met with objections about how ridiculous it is - how could I leave my 12 week old baby to go back to work!? It's inhumane!

I try to be diplomatic, I really do. "Well, it is what it is." And I guess that's why I'm now writing a passive aggressive blog post haha. 

But here is the thing: I want to work. And while I think 16 weeks would have been nice, I was ready to go back when I did at 12 weeks. I happen to really like what I do. I spent a lot of time doing what I do and on my career. This is what happens when you do something you love. 

I get that having 52 weeks at home to cuddle and be a stay at home mom is a great option - and I totally do not judge anyone for taking that option when it's available and it works for them. There are obvious upsides (see: cuddles). But, to me, there are obvious downsides too. From a personal point of view, a 1 year old is cognizant of you leaving. When you suddenly do it everyday that's not easy on them (or you). A three month old doesn't grasp it the same way and grows up with that being normal. 

Professionally, working in the industry I do, I cannot imagine taking a year off and being about to perform in my role. I had a hard time stepping out for 12 weeks - gearing up to leave and then adjusting to coming back and trying to catch up on everything I missed (even though I didn't totally disengage from work). And that's not just my opinion, many studies show women's career trajectory falling off post-child - I can't imagine basically starting from scratch when they return is of any help to that statistic.

I can't tell you the number of times I heard: "But how will you bond with your chiiiilllldddd?" Ummm, in all of the other hours when I'm not working. You saying that to me implies that it is not possible for me and my child to be bonded, which we are, and proves that you are an ignorant asshat. And I'm being snippy on that one because it is just straight up offensive. 

Don't get me wrong, I was excited to go back, but really sad to not hang out with my dude all day. I even more sad when we ended up putting him in daycare. I cried for literally a day about it. But I got over the latter, and now he's in it and he's super happy and he has even more people who love him and will make baby friends. Do I want to stay home with him instead of going to work some days. Yes... well, rather I wish I could bring him to work with me.

What don't I agree with? 

I don't agree that maternity leave by law does not need to be paid. I think it's terrible when women are forced back to work, sometimes days after giving birth, because they cannot afford the time off. Be pissed off about that. Object to that. Feel bad for those women. Don't feel terrible for me because I'm doing exactly what I've chosen to do and what is right for me and my family.

Or feel terrible for your one year old who understands that you're leaving them for the first time, has separation anxiety and no real concept of time, and cries all day for the first week(s). My dude will be the one rocking out wondering what's wrong with your dude.


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