Change happens for us all every day. We do not always realize how much change hits us on a day-to-day basis, often because of how we handle the change. At some level we all have a bit of dislike to change. Some individuals are more flexible than others, some are more set in their ways or routines, and yet others relish the freedom and excitement of having things constantly changing in life.
Whatever level of tolerance we have for change, we often do not have a choice of if it happens to us. Whether that means changes at work, at home, with our family, there is change that happens by choice and change that we would rather not come close to with a ten foot pole. These past few weeks for me have been emotional to one extent (thank you hormones) and a little nerve-racking on another level. I know I am not the first woman to have a baby, and I know (because everyone tells you) that my life is about to change in numerous ways. Some of those changes will be amazing, and some will knock me on my ass.
I have to say that what has been hardest (besides my body no longer being mine, the endless peeing, and little to no sleep because of the endless peeing) has been being a professional woman with a team. When you read about others that go on maternity leave, they talk about the baby side of it, but what they do not really talk often about is what it is like for the working mom. I have been working since I was 9 years old. I had a paper route, and babysat kids in the neighborhood. This means that I have been working non-stop for the last 28 years. The most time I have taken off (other than a period when I was laid off), is the two weeks I took for my wedding/honeymoon. I have never not worked for a longer period than that.
Now, judge me all you want, as I think some mothers might — when I say it is going to be hard for me to be away from work. There are some pretty involved and intense projects happening in the coming months and, while I have the most amazing team, it does not make it easy for me to be away from it all. I have poured my heart into the work and my team, and having a child does not necessarily change my dedication to my work. Sure, some of my priorities will change when I meet Mini Conk, but I also want to raise a son that not only understands the importance of hard work, but also sees that I have an identity that is different from just being a mom.
Folks rarely talk about how hard it is for a working mom, instead I see more judgement that my place as a mom is at home with my son. Why should I have to choose, and why should I be judged for how I want to live my life? As more and more women have leadership positions at companies, not only do the rights for women having children need to change, so does the behavior for how we treat women that work and want to do both.
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.
How often in life are you surprised? Once a month? Once a day? Do people easily shock you? There is a little part of each of us that loves to be shocked and in awe. Whether it is our husband that is capable of keeping a secret, our closest friend, or sister — not having a clue something is going to happen can sometimes be an amazing thing.
I have the hardest time keeping a secret from Chris (that should be a good thing). We talk about everything, and sometimes it is hard to keep my excitement inside or hidden from him. I am crazy transparent so he can probably pick up on the fact that I am hiding something. Take for example his 30th birthday. I wanted to surprise him and take him to San Francisco for a week. I could not keep it inside and I wanted to plan the trip with him and let him research a bit of what he might want to do. A week before we were to leave I decided to tell him — I could not resist! I wrapped a box of Rice-a-Roni (you know “A San Francisco treat.”) and my secret was finally out.
Somehow though Chris loves giving me the element of surprise and he enjoys the shock value it leaves. He can easily plan things and not tell me because he knows timing can be the perfect way to surprise someone, especially me. He is good. What if the many companies we are patrons of shocked and surprised us? Many companies do not even come close, so the smallest detail could result in a surprised and happy customer. How often are you surprised by a company? It is nice when it happens. It makes the experience more memorable.
I am going to hone my surprise tactics. Just you wait, Chris. Just you wait.