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Twelve Weeks (and a rare and very brief political rant)

Mia is twelve weeks old today and has decided that now that she is so grown up she no longer needs to sleep. Ever. I strongly disagree.

Wednesday was my last day of maternity leave and I was due back at work yesterday. I didn't go. I didn't just not show up, of course, they have known for weeks I wouldn't be there yesterday.

I am hugely fortunate to be able to stay home with Mia for a while. It means making a lot of sacrifices, such as having to clean my own house, but I think it is worth it. In the scheme of things, the sacrifices are so very small. I thank my lucky stars every day that we are in a position to make this choice, but I also know that we have worked very hard to get here and Chris continues to work very hard to allow me to spend every day kissing Mia's toes.

It has been hard for me to adjust to the idea that I won't work. That I won't make any money. That I will live entirely off of Chris's efforts. It means giving up a job that I don't love but that I am very good at and for which I have earned a good reputation and a lot of respect, as well as a salary that it will take years to get close to when I go back to work. As hard as that adjustment is though, it is nowhere near as hard as it would have been to hand Mia off to someone else yesterday and go to work. I don't know if I would have had the strength to do it.

Twelve weeks is not enough. Twelve weeks of unpaid leave is disgraceful. I know many women who have wanted to return to work right away, but I have known many more who do not and there should be a better option for them. Surely some of the money we waste on political pork could be better used for a more rational national maternity policy (among a great many other things).

In the meantime, I am a stay at home mom. I expect this will be very different than other jobs I have had - I won't be winning awards or raises or even much recognition or praise. But I think it may be the first job I have ever loved.

Comments (54)

and loving your 'job' is really all that matters.

It seems a very wise choice to me.

It's the best job...

and the worst.

But I would never give it up.

You're totally right. Being a stay at home Mom is the HARDEST job in the world and so demanding on so many levels. It took me a long time to get used to not bringing home a paycheck, and to not feel guilty about spending my husband's hard earned money.

In time it occured to me though that I work damn hard, and the money I am saving us by not working far outweighs the benefits of me pulling in a salary outside of the home. Now I'm fine with it.

This is the first job I've ever loved. It is also the first job I wasn't bored with in 4 months. It's a constant challenge, but on the days when I get to watch Lady laugh herself silly at the dog who is dancing around and trying to get her to play with him, I know how lucky I am. There are days I wish I had an assistant to bark orders to, but such is life...I'd rather spend all day trying to reason with my 4 and a half month old Luly Buns about why she really does need to take a nap today than have to hand her off to someone else.

It's definitely a sacrifice, but soooooo worth it. Good for you!!! Mia is a very lucky little girl (and so is the Hubs for having a wifey who doesn't mind staying home with the babe).

It's simultaneously the hardest, most thankless, and wonderful job I've ever had. Especially since that whole rock star thing didn't really work out.

The situation you describe about not being able to hand Mia over to someone else is exactly why I haven't had a baby yet. I've always known that I would feel just like you do. I am going on 29 and my husband and I are working hard to have the options that you have. Which is me being able to decide to stay home if I want, and I'm pretty sure I will. So enjoy every second of it!

You're dead on about 12 weeks being disgraceful. I was halfway through my first trimester when I knew, just knew, I would be unable to leave the baby in day care at such a young age without completely losing my shit. I'm glad the option is there and that it works for lots of people; I'm just not one of them. So I wish you good luck with your new job! I'll have the same one in a couple more months. Luckily you have a really cute boss.

Today is the end of week 8 of my time away from work. I can't call it maternity leave because the only reason I'm still getting paid is because I had enough sick time accrued - and oh yeah, my boss is still putting 40 hours of work on my timesheet since I technically ran out of leave time 2 weeks ago. I really, really, really like my job alot and was certain that I would be running back to it in December. I was certain until this week. Me and Little One finally started to really get into a groove this week...now I'm not so sure that I want to completely hand her over to someone else on Monday, December 12 - just so that I can go sit at a desk and earn a paycheck while I read your blog. Decisions, decisions...

All my experience comes from other people, but I was horrified that my friend's wife had to go back after just 10 weeks. It definitely seemed too soon.

I am glad that you have the option to do so. Another of my good friends was fortunate enough to be in that same position. My job was great enough to extend my TIME but not my pay, so I go back in January. Sigh.

It doesnt take a lot of money to raise a child. Just giving a child a safe home, a chance to be happy, know they are cared for and loved and you have given them the world!

who cares how old your suv is, or the size of your house, or if you have a cleaning lady, the child will give you back more than any personal satisfication you get from being able to afford those luxuries.

12 weeks is definitely not enough. We were fortunate enough that I got a buy-out from a job I hated which allowed me to stay home for 21 months. No clue how anyone can do it after so short a period of time. Enjoy your time together... it may not pay well but the rewards are endless. The mommy track rules.

(And I haven't managed to make my old salary yet either... I'm not sure what other moms have experienced but after one, every interviewer has asked rather we're planning more kids. If much more delicately than that... not fair. Of course, given the hours that were expected, the cash can't make up for the time spent shackled to a desk.)

You're doing awesome (if the blog is any indication. Kiss Mia for me.

N.

*sighs* I will have to return to work after 6 weeks...wish I could take the 12 weeks but I cant go unpaid for that long. I have been dreading the day I have to go back to work for over a year before I ever got pregnant.
=(

It is a shame that there isn't a grand maternity/adoption plan for moms and dads. I only took 8 weeks with my first son, and then felt pressure to take only 6 with my second. When I had my girls, I had a little parental experience (and age) under my belt and I simply told them I was taking 12 weeks with each. All of this was unpaid, of course (except for the sick time I had accrued), but it was definitely better all around.
The feeling I had was that once they were all in school, I could work full-time again, but that AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN. With just 2 in school, I can see that they need me more now than ever.

The reward for you is very simply your daughter in your arms. :)

I'm 35, an engineer and pregnant with my first child (due at the end of February). I'm fortunate in that my company has Short Term Disability that will give me 6 weeks of fully paid maternity leave. But that's it. I spent over 12 years (and another 5 in college) getting to where I am today. If I quit, our (sizeable) household income is cut in half. My husband and I went through many negotiations before we got pg (long story and this isn't my blog), and I promised him that I would go back to work after this child. His concession is that when we have a second, I can stay home because the daycare costs start becoming prohibitive, even with *my* salary.

As this pregnancy progresses, I dread more and more the thought of leaving my baby in someone else's care. I know many people do it and it's fine... but I've waited so long to have children that *I* want to be the one caring for them.

Maternity leave in Canada is one full year. Can you imagine?

I was just going to say...y'all need to move up here to Canada. We get a year. Sure, it's not paid, but you qualify for employment insurance and your job is yours when you return. 12 weeks is criminal. Just criminal!

In Aus they have a maximum of a year unpaid maternity leave and then have the option of job sharing when you do go back to the work force. I know one mum who only works two days a week and then she gets her parents to babysit those two days.
Mia will be better off for having her mum around. You made a hard but wise choice.

And here I was gonna be the one to cause jealousy of all us Canadians. I'm a little surprised that my biological clock is ticking already...I turn 22 in a month, and while I definitely still have ambitions outside of the home, I really, really want to be a wife and mom. I hope that somehow my (hypothetical) hubby and I will be able to make it work.

Oh, and there's also paternity leave here, my friend's husband took like a year when their first two kids were born!

though the minimum maternity leave is 6 weeks and quite often mums go back after only 6 weeks. I couldn't do that!

I think that's great! I never understand why some women would want to go to work instead of stay home with their children. I know everyone is different, but I'd much rather be at home all day doing homey things and spending time with my children. I hope I get that opportunity one day soon, I am so sick of working, and I'm at an age when I should be having babies and staying home. Good luck and enjoy your stay-at-home time with Mia, she'll grow up too fast.

I'm so happy for you!

And I think you will do a great job too!

It will be kind of a funny switch. Now you are both working, not for yourselves, but for someone less than two feet tall. :)

The harder thing will be to hand her off to the goverment or corporate run school in 5 years and hope that, even though she will spend more time with them than you until she's 18, you will have a big enough influence on her to keep her on the straight and narrow.

Its a tough job, but I think you and Chris are up to it.

I think you will get awards for this job-- only now they'll be made of macaroni and paste. And probably a great deal more meaningful.

I find the maternity leave policy in the US to be absolutely disgusting. As you know, I live in Canada and I am entitled to 12 months off, which I am taking thankyouverymuch. Babies are not ready to be separated from their mums at 12 weeks nor vice versa.

I love my job [I'm a math teacher] and so I am looking forward to heading back to work one day. But were that day to be in 3 weeks [when my dude is 12 weeks] I would certainly not be happy at all!

You made the right decision, Beth. :-D

i think that it comes as kind of a shock...after a couple of months of not working...that you are actually not going back. you are home, doing what you will be doing for a long time, and it is wonderful and hard and entertaining and rewarding and sometimes lonely...but by far the best "job" ever.

I agree with you whole heartedly - here in Canada we collect Employment Insurance from the government for 50 weeks (+ a 2 week waiting period) for our maternity leave (we get $768.00 every 2 weeks). Our employers must keep our jobs for us for the whole year. I've been lucky in a way in that I was laid off and paid an 11 week severance package which delayed the start of my EI by 11 weeks - I get to stay home and get paid(!) for 63 weeks! I count my lucky stars that I'm not American - I have no idea how people can bring a wee 6 week old baby to a sitter every day - you would barely know your kid!

I hear you on this issue. When my first was born (now 5), I felt so tied between "should I work?" and "should I stay home?" At the time work was so much a part of my identity, that I needed to work. While I missed my daughter tremendously, I was able to fill a personal need by working too.

Now that I have my third (17 weeks), I extended my maternity leave. And I'll return to my "real" job in January -- this time I'll go back two days a week. Not bad!

good for you, enjoy your new boss, lol ;)

I'm right with you Beth. I hypothetically was due back to work this week. I don't know how I could have done it. Knowing that my baby is going to continue to change day by day only makes the prospect of work harder.

I'm 38 weeks pregnant and already dreading the end of my pathetically short 12 week leave. I'm fortunate enough to work in a building directly next to a daycare my husband and I both love, and they'll let me come over and visit/nurse any time. I think it'll make the handoff a little easier if I know it's only for a couple hours at a time rather than a whole day. But I still envy you! You're doing so great. It's a shame that children aren't more valued (in the legal/political scheme of things) in this country. Maybe if they could vote. (Barney for president! With the Wiggles in congress.)

Congrats on staying at home with her. That's a wonderful thing.

My closest friend had to go back to work but she was able to switch to 4 10 hour days and work one of those at home so that helped a LOT.

Good luck! :)

I was a stay-at-home mom for 13 years, and it was the best thing I ever did.

"It has been hard for me to adjust to the idea that I don't work."

Honey, what you do IS work. I don't have the option to stay at home (but I wish I did). Believe me, going to work outside of the home is a much easier job - heartbreaking, but easier.

Kiss Mia's toes for me.

12 weeks is appalling. Over here (Australia) you receive 52 weeks unpaid maternity leave, at the end of which you return to your original position in the company. When you are one one income, you are entitled to family benefits from the government who also, after you have given birth, give you a $3,000 payment for doing so.
When I had my oldest, I worked in a Goverment job, which also gave 12 weeks paid maternity leave (included in the 52 weeks).
Seriously, U.S politicians should be shot - particularly if they preach family values, then only offer women a pathetic 12 weeks.

congratulation on your decision, and i can only hope that when i have children someday i am in the same place as you! i agree that the maternity leave program needs an upgrade. i know a girl at work who is only going to have 6 weeks off with her newborn son. the same went for my boyfriend's mom when she had her baby almost 2 years ago. 6 weeks is nothing. 12 weeks is not much better. i want much more than that, and to do so i will be choosing to be a stay at home mom, if and when i get the chance!

ok, that was a lot. whew. to sum it up, i'm so happy you get to stay with mia, and i'm sure she will thank you for it later. :)

Congratulations! My baby will be 12 weeks in two days and I have made the exact same decsion. Our babes only get one chance and I am so happy that you were able to make the right choice for you!

Congratulations, Beth!

I find it amazing and inspiring that the trend is to go back to being stay-at-home moms (by choice rather than by tradition). I'm completely unsure of what I will do because I do love my job, but I also believe in the benefits of full-time parenting. One of our friends found that it was like bringing in part-time income when they clipped coupons every Sunday afternoon. I've gotta look into that!

I got a year off with my employment insurance and a little top off from the company it was quite lovely. And then Noah's first birthday came and went and I didn't got back to work. I totally gave up a job (I hated) was good at and well paid for to further stay home with him.

Now?

I sell retail (very) part time. So when I come home at night I think about Noah and Brendan and not dns servers and IP addresses.

*sigh* I'm weak.

you need to move to Canada. here we have a ONE YEAR maternity leave. it's not all paid, but it's 55% of your salary paid by the government and your company has the option to top you up. a few people i know make about 90% of their salaries for an entire year!!!

i, of course, am a freelance writer. so, in turn, i get ZERO benefits, and ZERO mat. leave. so, i'm in the same boat as you. staying home with my baby and not making any money.

i think it's worth it. i couldn't even imagine leaving Isabella right now!

It took a lot of courage to make that decision, but it's one that you won't ever regret.

Enjoy every minute of it! :-)

I agree...12 weeks of unpaid leave is disgraceful! I am lucky that I was able to stay home too. It was the hardest job that I have ever had...still is...but it was worth it. We have had to make a lot of sacrifices for me to stay home, especially in NoVa. But it has been completely worth it. Next year, I will probably go back to work full time for the first time in five years. I think I would rather clean diapers and kiss toes. Okay...maybe I am going too far with the diaper thing! ;)

OMG - i'm so shocked. I had no idea it was like that in the US. I'm from Canada and we get a year - PAID - matt leave. (Someone said un-paid...???) We get 55% paid - and then employers often top up. Many top up the rest so you get a full year of your regular pay. I cannot imagine going back to work right away. I didn't go back until my son was 2(part-time) - and that was hard. It's even hard to find infant day care here - because people just don't leave their kids at that age. My god.
Beth - i think that's fabulous that you've taken more time off - and really, nothings better than being a mom. More money doesn't even compensate for not seeing your child all day. :)

I am right there with you. I was the bread winner of our family. The secong I laid eyes on Gwyn it was over with. I knew I would never be able to leave her and that was ok. I had a much more important rewarding job to do and that was to be a mom plain and simple...well not simple but anyways. It has been the best decision of my life and atleast I know I will never look back and say I wish I had of spent more time with her. I have seen all of her firsts. I have caught all her tears and I will never leave her and she is secure and happy because of it. No regrets. Its just money.

Considering all of the rhetoric about valuing the American family, the fact that you have three months of UNPAID leave is obscene. I admire that you and Chris are so aware that it's a rare privilege to have a stay at home parent.

I gave up my teaching job to be a stay at home mom.

When my husband and I first started talking about having kids and my staying home, I didn't want to. I thought, heck, I didn't spend five years in college to NOT teach. Then, it took us three years to get pregnant. By that time, I was totally on board with staying home and being a full time mommy to this wonderful little creature that we'd created.

I have never once regretted leaving my paid job. This unpaid one has far greater rewards. :)

Hey rock on SAHM!

And maybe you could consider advertising on your blog - might bring in some cash. :)

Either way, I know you and Mia will have the best time.

HURRAY!!!!

Congrats, Beth! I am very jealous. I will be heading back to work (although bringing the baby) just a couple of weeks after I have her to juggle work and baby to return home to juggle everything at home. I would do anything to be able to stay at home with her - even if just for a few months! Enjoy every second!

I can't wait to read about your continued adventures as a stay-at-home mom! Soon, I'll be joining the SAHM club myself. I'd do so sooner, but can't give up my health insurance quite yet (I also had a breech baby and she needs follow-up testing on her hips). So, here's another political rant for you - Have you noticed that the countries with decent maternity leave policies also have better health insurance/health insurance not tied to employment?

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