It is an American issue.

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.

What do you think after watching the video?

Father Sues Employer Over Paternity Leave and Wins

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.

What do you think?

I heart SH: pedestrians beware

I miss Shanghai. There are definitely parts of it I would never miss, but of the cities I have been to in the past few years, there was something very endearing about it. Last night Chris flew back from Memphis, Tennessee and due to his late night return I decided to be the horrible wife and not make the drive out to the airport to pick him up. While I am always exuberant to see him after he is gone (regardless of how long he is away), I am exhausted that late at night, and it is best to keep me in my pajamas on the couch then driving in the rain. So — he took a cab. Which reminded me of taxi’s in Shanghai.

There is one thing that is the complete opposite in Shanghai than Portland (and many cities in the United States). Pedestrians do not come first. Cars do, and taxis can be aggressive. If you are on foot, beware. Even if you have the right of way at a cross walk, do not trust that it is truly your turn. It was something that I had to constantly remember, as it is so different from the United States. Taxi’s can range from chill and quiet, to loud and maniac drivers. I guess the same could be said for cabbies in New York City. In Shanghai they honk all the time and especially if a pedestrian or cyclist is in their way, and often yell at everyone and everything in their vicinity. (Not that I could understand what they are saying, but you can tell by the tone). The exact moment the stoplight changes from red to green the horn is blaring, not giving anyone a second to be distracted.

While I never saw a single accident, there were quite a few times when I saw near misses. Somehow though they glide through the streets and dodge people and cyclists left and right without any harm done. They have a poise and agility about them. In some ways they make cabbies in New York City look like they are little league in comparison. There must be some unwritten rules for how people drive because somehow (and I could never explain it) it all works out.

Since some foreigners cannot rent cars while visiting China (probably a good thing) they are reliant on public transportation, car services, or taxis to be transported to each destination. Or, as we often did, walk. I cannot imagine if you added drivers from the rest of the world into the mix. What chaos that would be. Now, what it does make me ponder is why the United States lets almost anyone with a driver’s license in the rest of the world rent a car and navigate our roads. Does that make sense? It makes you think. I will say one more thing:

I got nothing on taxi drivers in Shanghai.