As I am writing this, I am 36 weeks pregnant. Aside from being an expectant mother, during the school year I am a part-time employee and a full-time student. With such a busy schedule, I never invested in buying a television so in order to keep up with current events I subscribe to the New York Times. Scrolling along the site I came across an article that read, “Why Mothers’ Choices About Work and Family Often Feel Like No Choice at All”, written by journalist Clair Cain Miller who is known to write articles on gender and families.
The column discusses the debate between republicans and democractic views on families and family policies. The one thing they can agree upon, Clair says, “Is that parents should have choices”. In a country where there is no such thing as paid family leave, the cost of daycare is expensive, the cost of living continues to rise, work hours are long, where most jobs are not understanding of family circumstances, many women feel like they have little to no choice at all when it comes to having to choose between work and family.
That was exactly how I felt. That I didn’t have a choice.
My due date is coming soon and I inquired about maternity leave at my job. According to my job’s policy I had to work a certain amount of hours in order to qualify to have paid maternity leave. Unfortunately, I received an email from HR stating that I did not meet the requirements to qualify for paid maternity leave, thus I must take unpaid personal leave. By taking personal leave my job there was not guaranteed.
I was already stressed about the fact that I wasn’t going to have paid maternity leave, but to be told that my position at my job was not guaranteed while I was gone bothered me even more so.
Even then, my partner and I cannot survive on a single income, especially with the cost of having a baby in the mix. As much as I want to spend time with my baby and bond with her as a new mom, I can’t afford to be away from work for very long. According to an article written by The Guardian, 1 in 4 women tend to go back to work in just 10 days after giving birth, even though they are advised by their doctors to allow 6 weeks for their bodies to recover not only physically but mentally as well from giving birth. Much like me they either don’t qualify for maternity, their place of employment doesn’t offer maternity leave or they cannot afford to be on a single income for 6 to 12 weeks. It is even harder for women who are single mothers.
Women play a huge role in the workforce and at home. We take on a lot more work and responsibility in comparison to the men in our lives. Having healthy children is also important to a growing economy and its future. A majority of developed countries offer paid medical leave and family leave, sadly the U.S. does not. Hopefully, in the upcoming election 2020 that will come to change.