Maternity Leave Rant

My blog has become so boring! Havent updated in way too long. Well, that’s what happens when you’re pregnant, I guess! 😛 You are too tired to do anything really recreational. Esp if you’re working at the same time. I really hate this American work ethic we have going on. Where everyone’s expected to work regardless of their personal condition – whether pregnant or ill. As if the sick days we’re given are some sort of reward. Maternity Leave is seen in the same light. I guess it’s because it hasnt been that long since maternity leave was never even an option. The 70’s saw a shift in the women’s work movement. More women were working, wanted to work, and continue working even after they had kids. So, they fought for time off. Some with pay, some with partial pay and some with no pay. But, I guess the real goal was job security. The option to come back after giving birth instead of seeing all that they’d worked for taken away and given to someone else, namely a man.

I get that and everything. But, let’s be honest. The maternity leave granted was really a fairy tale. 6 wks paid or 12 wks unpaid? Really? o_O You think that after 6wks the baby is sleeping on a regular schedule through the night? Do you think you’re rested and healed enough to return to the rat race? Or how about the 12wks unpaid leave? Seriously? Unpaid leave when you need money more than ever to cover the expenses a new child incurs? Is this considered my reward for job security? Dont do me any favors. >_<

You want to know what my maternity leave looks like? I first have to use up all the sick days I’ve accumulated in the yrs I’ve been working in public school. It’s not much because I actually use my sick days. Esp the yr that I was especially ill with allergy attacks, and of course this past yr being pregnant and exhausted while still having to deal with insolent students and their irate parents. Never mind actually teaching the subject. -__- So, in all, I’ve got 3 sick days left. That’s right – THREE. =___= Then, I have to borrow 20 sick days against 2 yrs of teaching. I have to make these up upon return to work. Every month I dont take off puts one day back in the bank. Yeah, right. Like I’m not gonna take any days off considering I have a baby at home who needs constant care. It’s great I’ll have my mother-in-law to take care of her during the day. But, my mother-in-law also doesnt speak English. If there’s a real problem, guess who she’s gonna call? And now my freaking commute is an hr on the stupid N and J trains. Racist city planners built our subway system to feed into Manhattan instead of smoothly into all boroughs. Therefore, although I live and work in Brooklyn now, (albeit on opposite ends), I have to travel into Manhattan and transfer trains to go back into Brooklyn. To that I say, WTF?! O_o I’d rather be in Hong Kong or Japan. Nice air-con in the subways. *pines*

All right. Once those 3 days + 20 are used – which thankfully do not take into account holidays and weekends – I then go into a 30 calendar day grace period. That’s 30 days, including weekends, (dont understand that one), and including any holidays I’d normally get off from work, like Veteran’s Day. I call that absolute rubbish. So, 53 days total. Then I’m expected to return and teach classes. Well, of course! Moms dont need rest, do they? They dont have to worry about their new baby (and this is my FIRST, btw – so extra worry there), at home (or with a sitter in most cases), spending hours without them. They dont need to worry about leaky breasts or how they will continue breastfeeding once they’re back in the classroom. These are the times I wish I was working in an office. Then I can take my break at any time and go away for 15-20 mins to pump milk and come back to my desk. Not so in the classroom. Aside from the fact that I’ve no idea where I’d even be able to pump milk, I wont get to do it when I want to. I have to follow my schedule. This may mean that some days I can pump when I need to and some days I need to wait hours before pumping because I cant leave my students unattended. >_< You know these small insignificant things dont bother the policy makers who thought up this ludicrous form of maternity leave. They’re likely all men anyway.>:( Wish we lived in Europe where mothers AND fathers are accommodated and respected in their decision to stay home and nurture their child in its first year.

So, I’m left deciding whether or not I even want to return to work after giving birth. My goal is to breastfeed my young’uns exclusively for 6mths. That means I need to pump milk and have a ready supply. I dont buy into these crap formulas on the market. I may use an organic one in a pinch, but I’d rather keep my own supply. Of course, it’s not impossible to continue pumping while at work. It’s just a major inconvenience since no one thinks about accommodating for these situations. Most of my female colleagues either never breastfed or gave up after they returned to work. T__T Not encouraging.

I think we’ve all been brainwashed into this ‘work over family’ mentality. Is not the breakdown of the family unit and its consequences not enough to convince Washington that mother and fathers need less time on the job and more time at home? Esp fathers! Mothers may quit their jobs more easily, but fathers are just as essential to the development of their children. I bet if we did a study we’d find that the kids who place into low-functioning or special education classes are kids who grew up in single-parent homes where the parent is constantly working. And who’s that parent? Usually mom. She doesnt have time to talk to her son about why he didnt do his HW for the past wk because she’s too busy working over 18 hrs a day in 2 different jobs just to put food on the table. She’s exhausted. Denying it wont make it go away. And scoffing at it only makes you look like an insensitive bastard.

But I digress… In the end, I’m gonna do what’s best for my family. And my job be damned. If moving to Switzerland is best for my family, then I’ll do it. At least with the education and job experience I have, I can find something – even something part-time – to work at. Only if I need to and want to, of course. Homeschooling is a full-time job already and that’s my goal for my babies. You can think what you want, but they’re my babies and I’ll do what I want to make sure they dont end up like some of my students (read: a LOT of my students), who need a good ass-whooping because they’re left to raise themselves. Besides, who the hell wants to stay cooped up in a classroom all day when the whole world can be your classroom? How nice would it be to go on field trips every wk and not have to sign forms and compete with hundreds of other schools who want the same space on the same day? And how much better would it be to have home-cooked meals instead of the crap-ass food served in the schools — with the mice looking on? I’d love to have a nice pancake breakfast with fruit and powdered sugar before starting my school day, wouldnt you? And to be able to go to the bathroom when I need to, or not have to constantly adjust to each teacher’s preferences, personalities and procedures period by period? That’s what I’m talking about. Critics be damned. You keep your eye on your own kids. I’ll do what’s best for mine. 😉

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