Legally Momming: The Mockery of Maternity Leave
By Melissa Keyes
I am currently on what I like to call “maternity leave light.” In between episodes of Parks & Rec, I check email, try to work out or go for walks, and nurse. So. Much. Nursing. Much attention has been made about working moms “having it all.” Having it all might be the white whale of momming – being successful at work, TCB at home, having time to sleep, work out or meet up with friends – it might just kill you. Nothing is more deceptive than maternity leave – believing you have the time to “have it all” and feeling like a failure when it inevitably doesn’t pan out. Even though this is my second kiddo, I still had visions of maternity leave filled with a quiet content newborn who slept through lunches, plenty of time to work out, take naps, keep up to speed on work, and keep the house on track. WTF was I thinking?
Maternity leave is the most amazingly boring time of my life. I love it and I hate it. I love spending time with my daughter in her squishy baby phase. And I’m not going to lie – it was nice vegging out and binge watching TV. But I also love using my mind. Once I got over the first few weeks of abject exhaustion, I began to miss thinking like and adult. Unfortunately, my newborn didn’t get the memo and was in the midst of major cluster feeding requiring her to be attached to my boobs in 20 minute intervals ALL. F’ING. DAY. Thus, my visions of popping into the office for a quick meeting, having a nice sit down lunch with colleagues, or attending conferences was not going to work as planned. I couldn’t have it all and I had to come to terms with that. Sure, I tried to work when I could, with mixed results. I once logged in to an online meeting not realizing that it was a VIDEO conference only to subject those already present to a partial shot of my boobs (with newborn attached, see supra) and awkwardly trying to cover the camera with my thumb while desperately trying to turn off the video feed and not disturb the baby.
I think as working moms especially, we pressure ourselves to do it all – because we want it all. We’ve been told that if you work hard enough, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to. So if you can’t have everything you want, it must be some failure on your part. B-f’ing-S. Part of the lesson of being a mom, being a working mom – is having to be flexible and re-framing what “having it all means.” I’ve started to understand that having it all doesn’t mean having it all right now. There is a balance, and having it all just means doing what makes you happy and not giving a shit if you can’t check everything off your to-do list. Moms – it’s time we cut ourselves some f’ing slack. So, with the time I have left on maternity leave, aside from making sure my daughter is happy, healthy, and fed, I plan on doing what I can to make me happy. Whether it’s going for a walk, meeting a friend for lunch, or checking up on work – but I’m not going to stress if I don’t get to it all – after all, there is a really funny episode of Parks and Rec coming on.