I just need to sit down and type all this out. Who knows if I’ll post it. I try to stay away from these controversial types of posts, but I just can’t NOT say the things about this topic that I want to say. I don’t even have any pictures – just words.
My heart is sad.
It has been all week.
My sister went back to work on Monday. Doing so meant that she had to leave her 4-month old daughter (the exact same age as Porter) with a sitter. (The sitter is family which makes the whole situation WAY easier – no doubt that the sweet girl is being well taken care of while Katy works.) Katy is still nursing so she’s having to pump at work. That’s hard. The logistics of getting an infant fed, dressed, packed and out the door for a day away – it’s something I wish my sister didn’t have to even think about. We’ve seen each other every.single.day for the past 4 months. We’ve swapped stories, we’ve nursed together….we’ve changed together. We’re different people now than we were before and our relationship is SO much stronger. And it makes me want to scream because it’s all shifting. It’s not fair that she has to go back to work. It’s just not.
I’m not writing to piss the working moms off.
I’m not writing to make the stay-at-home moms pat themselves on the back (or play the martyr – I’ve seen both happen – heck I’ve played both myself).
I’m writing today because I feel angry at our culture. At this country and it’s policies on maternity leave. And the fact that it’s ok, expected even, for moms to have to leave their babies and go back to work after only a few short weeks together. In my opinion, it shouldn’t even be an option.
[And yes I know that women have fought long and hard for the opportunity to leave the house. That some women prefer to get back out there and work. And yes I know that some mamas don’t even have the option to stay at home because of finances. I understand that to make a blanket statement means that I’ll get a few (or a lot) of “BUT’s”. Hear me out. Hear my heart.]
In other countries (namely European), it would be unheard of for a woman to take a mere six weeks off to stay at home with her newborn (think more like six or twelve MONTHS!) and yet that’s expected here in the US. After I sat down to start writing this post, I did some research. Did you know that the United States is one of two of the 185 countries or territories in the world surveyed by the United Nation’s International Labor Organization that does not mandate some form of paid maternity leave for its citizens?!? (source) We need to catch on to the BENEFITS of offering more paid time off for our mothers.
Here are just a few benefits that came to my mind (I’m sure there are way more!)
- Increased mother/infant bonding time
- Increased likelihood that breastfeeding can continue into the first year of life (and further!)
- Decrease in separation anxiety for mother and child
- Increased appreciation for the role of motherhood (<-which is far undervalued)
- Decrease in depression for the mother
I think this problem goes much deeper than just finances and picketing for increased paid time off. Our culture has a problem with how we view women, mothers. It’s such a deep problem that I’m not even sure where to begin. A powerful women’s rights movement, the desire for more recognition in the workplace, a class system (why is it ok for another woman to stay at home and watch your child, but it’s not ok for you to want to do that?!?) and so many other pieces to this very messed up puzzle. It’s even gotten to the point where working mothers feel condemned by stay-at-home mothers and vice versa. Like we’re on two separate teams, fighting it out to see who is the best at doing their job. It shouldn’t be that way.
I’m not trying to keep women out of the workplace. We are needed, this much I know. I’m saying that six weeks, even twelve weeks, is too short a time. That the pressures of home life during this critical bonding time are more than enough – adding job stress is just far too much.
Point blank – it is best for baby to be near its mother.
It is best for mother to be near her baby without fear of job loss or other negative repercussions.
It’s as though there’s this race to get back out of the home to do important work, a race towards retirement….when the most important work is right inside, right now, in these fleeting early years.
And also, I miss my sister.
QUESTION: How can policy change promote that idea? Would this happen on a national level? Company-owner level? That’s what I’d like to get a discussion going about.