The other day I came across this post on Twitter ( or something….I honestly can’t remember the source because PARENTHOOD) of a mom who was tandem nursing her 5 week old twins, while working away on a laptop. She made some sort of remark about being exhausted, not sleeping, barely functioning, but “still getting shit done”.
Well, honey. Good for you.
I’m happy that she feels like she can get it all done. A baby on each boob, not even healed from the physical aspects of birth let alone the hormonal and emotional ones of becoming a mother, and happily working away.
Being ok with feeling like ass, and barely knowing what day of the week it is, and banging out some projects on your computer.
Jesus Christ. What the hell is wrong with the world?
And no, I’m not shaming her. If she wants to be a superstar human and do all of those things and is ok with that, then great. Go for it. Be the superhero.
I am lucky to live in Canada, where we have maternity benefits for up to one year after the birth of our child. The first three months are maternity leave, and then the remaining nine months can be split with our partner pretty much any way we like.
Because even if if we can somehow find a way to work through the exhaustion, stay upright, and make sure that everyone is fed and the laundry is done and still get to work on time, why should we have to?
In the States, many women get 6 weeks or even less of maternity leave. Sometimes its completely unpaid.
And I can tell you from experience that going back to work 6 weeks after your baby is born is pretty much the biggest pile of shit ever. Even when the person you are handing over care to is your husband.
As someone who is self employed, my babies were luckily both born in the summer and I went back to work when the school year began. Otherwise I wold have had no income, and no guarantee that my students would come back to me when I was ready to teach again. It was so hard. Because even though my husband was the “primary caregiver” there is something very difficult to describe about the bond between an infant and her mother. I was still getting up at night regularly. I was still dealing with post partum anxiety and hormones. I was still having a hard time with an unstable pelvis from the birth. And there was nothing about being separated from my baby that made me feel good.
So, I have been in this woman’s shoes, and luckily for me and for her ( she is an artist) we are able to work primarily from home and decide what our ours of work are.
But what if you have a physically demanding job? What if your career demands long hours? High pressure?
We need to start taking better care of our mothers, and us mothers need to be ok with being cared for.
So the problem that I had with the woman’s post about “getting shit done” is the implication that every woman should be able to and that it is completely normal to literally have a baby under each arm while doing your job. It’s that this mom feels like she has to inspire other women that they can be a badass mom too.
What if they don’t want to be a badass? What if you just want to be there for your children without feeling like you aren’t strong enough to balance a career alongside it? What if you just don’t want the superhero to be the expectation of you?
I get it. I have to work to. But I will tell you hands down that the first year of a child’s life is mentally and emotionally exhausting and that having to work during it is not in everyone’s best interest. There were many times that I felt on the edge. Like on the fucking brink.
The US needs to get its shit together. The reality is that many families simply cannot survive on one income anymore. I know we can’t. But no woman should be forced to go back to work before her vagina is even done bleeding after the birth of her baby. It’s beyond ridiculous.
All of us moms know we can “get shit done”. Because we do. But seriously. You never ever get those weeks and months back. The work will always be there waiting for you, but you will never ever regret focusing on your kids while they are tiny. In that first year ( and beyond), I truly believe the only shit we should be getting done is putting ourselves back together while building a relationship with our tiny humans. Seriously. Just give us a break.
The bottom line is that women are constantly in this tug of war between career and family. Much more so than men. We are constantly having to sacrifice a piece of ourselves. And usually, as apparent in the Twitter post about getting shit done, it’s the mom herself that is being sacrificed. Why is it ok to feel exhausted and sleep deprived all the time? Why is this how we become superheroes?
I guess for me personally, if there are three things on the table: Myself, my child, or my job; and I need to sacrifice part of something to keep getting shit done, the first two choices should be non negotiable.
That doesn’t make me selfish. That doesn’t make me a pussy. And accepting that I should have to sacrifice my own well being is something I am no longer willing to do. If I don’t take care of me, then the other two things suffer anyway.
So. Make your own choice. But ultimately, stop accepting less than you deserve and then cheering about how you can still make it work. You shouldn’t fucking have to.