Of course I have baby on the brain. I have six weeks left, and part of preparing for the birth of my son, is making sure I am prepared to leave work for maternity leave. Lots to do to make sure coverage is in place, and that I am not missing anything, all while trying to navigate the spectrum of “short-term disability” and use of my vacation time and how to make it all work. It is shocking that in our country having a baby is considered “short-term disability.” I am not sure how having a baby makes you “disabled.”
That is why I wanted to share this TEDx talk from Jessica Shortall. She discusses “The American Case for Paid Maternity Leave.” Her talk is just under 16 minutes and worth listening to — especially if you think it is absurd that the US is the 2nd to last country in the world in terms of benefits offered for mothers-to-be (fathers to). I love what she says near the end of the video: “It is not a women’s issue, or a mom issue, it is an American issue.” She is right.
I admire this guy. I really do. As I plan for my maternity leave, it is hard to decide what to do. I have read a lot of articles over the last few months about maternity and paternity leave, and I am still aghast that we have such shitty laws in the US, and that larger (and smaller) companies are so slowly coming around to supporting their pregnant workforce (and father’s as well). It feels like a slap in the face.
Regardless of what the laws are for the US, I have found it to be quite frustrating to navigate the entire process. Somehow no one tells you the steps to take, you have to navigate on your own, and talk to other women who recently delivered babies to see how it worked (or didn’t) for them. Did they deliver early? Did they go on reduced hours before delivery? Did that start short-term disability? What are your rights and are those at your workplace an advocate for you, or do they only answer your questions, and not attempt to help you understand the complexity of the situation. Things like: if you do not take the right steps, you can basically eat up all your vacation days before you deliver, and then have to take unpaid leave after your short-term disability is done. Crazy that they make it so complicated for women. Is it just about money?
So this guy works for CNN and sued them based on their parental leave policy. He won both for paternity and maternity leave AND he kept his job. Somehow I feel like it might be an anomaly — that most individuals that would sue their company would end up out of a job. He took a risk and he won. Think of all the other individuals at his company that will benefit because he spoke out. We all need more that will speak out. Husband’s for their wives, wives for their husbands, and those that might be in same-sex marriages or partnerships. Parents deserve to be home with their new babies to bond, and get the hang of how to take care of a little one.
A few years ago, Chris and I used to live near a Krispy Kreme. It was literally down the street. I can remember a specific week when we both had overlapping bouts of the flu. During my turn, all I wanted was pumpkin spice donuts and a Slurpee from 7 Eleven. Strange, right? For some reason it was the only thing that sounded good. A sugar coma to get me through the flu.
Yesterday we were visiting a furniture store near Krispy Kreme, and being that I am very pregnant, it is fall, and I want all things pumpkin I asked Chris to stop by Krispy Kreme for pumpkin spice donuts. We go through the drive thru – thinking it is a simple order. We tell her my order of 2 donuts and Chris’ order of 2 donuts. Two times she repeats it incorrectly and we correct her. She tells us to go to the window. We drive up, and since we did not have cash, we pay with a credit card.
Chris gives me the receipt and I look and we’ve been charged for 6 donuts. Ugh. Somehow we knew this would happen when she could not get the order right at the intercom. Our credit card had already been charged. We tell them it was not what we ordered, and we only wanted the four donuts. She stands there and does not know what to do. I am exhausted, need a snack, and am ready to go home. Normally, I would not make a big deal out of it, but I do not want 6 donuts (because I know Chris won’t be able to resist eating them).
She goes and gets someone to help her and a guy comes to the window. He says: “I do not know how to refund your order.” He then says, “Can I give you a latte instead?” I lose it. I already had a coffee and it is visible in my cup holder. I say, “No I do not want a latte, I want my four donuts and I want to pay for only four. How hard it is to put a refund through?” Chris then says, “How about you just give me the difference in cash?” The guys says: “Okay, that would be $1.60.”
Why, oh, why does the customer have to tell the cashier “how” to give a refund? I still am not convinced (not that I ultimately really care) that we actually got back what we should have back. The receipt said:
1 ASST 1/2 DZ
Then at the bottom says: Combo donuts – $1.15. No where does it say the cost of the actual donut. I think because they charged for 1/2 dozen there might have been a deal and the guy had no idea how to break it apart? Or, here is a thought. Refund the original order and ring it up as it should have been? Wow. No brainer right?
In the end, all could have been avoided if she just read the order to us prior to taking our card and swiping it.
It is all over the Internet, on social media, and the center of conversation this past week due to the terrible shooting tragedy in Oregon. Guns. Should guns be banned? I am not one to get into politics on this blog and I respect all (or most opinions) but it is starting to feel like there is not a place in the US that is actually safe. As a 7 month pregnant woman, I think about these things differently now.
What will it be like for my little boy to go to elementary, middle, high school and college? Even separate from that I think about it in grocery stores, movie theaters, malls, and almost any public area. Whatever the conversation is about banning guns, focusing on mental health, making more laws about having licenses and permits, or classes and training — something has to change. I am not going to get into solutions or politics. Whatever the solution (there has to be one) that can mean that Americans can still feel free. That is what concerns me the most — the fear of going about your daily life when shootings continue to increase. How is that freedom? Whether it is a shooter that kills one person or a shooter that kills many, the act of shooting a human with a gun does not equal freedom for the innocent victims and their families.
Among quite a few organizations that are trying to raise awareness for gun conversations, I came across “Not One More.” It is an organization that shares the stories of those who have lost loved ones through gun violence. Not One More is fighting for safer communities. Who does not want that? Who does not want to feel safe and free? Regardless of our political views we should all want the same end goal. Freedom and safety for ourselves and our loved ones.
I continue to have conversations with individuals who ask me questions about how I might want to raise my son. I always have lots of ideas to share with them, but one in particular comes so strongly to me that I wanted to share with you. Honesty and trust.
You might find me out in left field, or strange, or just not at all mainstream, but I am not sure I want to raise my son by telling him lies. I wrote a blog about it last May — the idea that we basically lie to our kids about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny (and I am sure a lot more). Yet, I continue to be baffled that we want to teach our kids to tell the truth and have honesty and integrity, yet we somehow are horrible examples of that. Of course we want our kids to have mystery and adventure in their lives, but there has to be a better way.
Yes, I will try to find a way to be graceful about it all so that he does not ruin it for other kids, but I want to be honest with him and not create this world where he later finds out that the stories we tell about these holidays are all made up. How then have I truly taught him about trust, honesty, and integrity? We can still celebrate the real meaning of these holidays (which I wonder how much of that is really lost on so many kids because they learn this fairy tale rather than the essence and significance of these holidays).
This conversation keeps coming up, and it has brought about some interesting dialogue. Maybe I am rogue or on the fringe, or maybe we are not asking the right questions. As parents we should be the examples. My dad’s answer was often: “Because I said so.” Which I hated because it meant he either did not have a better answer, he was too lazy to explain it, or he just wanted to have control over what I thought. As exhausting as it might be I want to be transparent with this little boy entering the world and give him honest answers that help him weave together and make sense of an already complex world.