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Selfish Moms Use Maternity Leave for All the Wrong Reasons

by Jeanne Sager on November 6, 2012 at 11:19 AM

mom knows bestDon't think new motherhood is tough enough? Get ready. A group of uber-moms (or uber-idiots ... you decide) has thrown another log on the fire. They're taking what they call a "power maternity leave."

So how does that differ from the regular old weeks of trying to bond with this little person who is constantly crying or pooping or sleeping? Well, honey, these ladies don't just use that time off from work to do a silly little thing like learning to be a mom. They learn a new language! They start a new business! They do something, anything, that will boost them up the corporate ladder.

Just check out this explanation of what "power maternity leave" consists of from UK site Stylist:

We’re so used to managing multiple projects -- buying a new house while planning a wedding and restructuring our work team -- that sitting around watching daytime TV while your baby sleeps is anathema to our hard-wired work ethic. Those precious months, as well as allowing you time to nurture your baby, give you the chance to take a step back and really think about your career prospects and whether your current job is fulfilling you in the way you’d like.

Did you catch the part about how we're all just sitting around taking in the soaps? How about the part where it's "anathema to our hard-wired work ethic"?

Because, y'know, figuring out how to actually feed a human being from our boobs isn't hard. Just ask the more than 50 percent of women who plan to exclusively breastfeed for at least three months who don't make their goal. And absolutely anyone could handle not getting a good night's sleep for weeks on end. That's why they used sleep deprivation as torture in Gitmo ... oh, wait.

Let's just say it: motherhood is hard work. If it wasn't, working moms and dads wouldn't have to pay someone to step in and care for our kids when we went to work; we'd be able to just strap the kid on our back and go. There's no need to get into another stay-at-home moms vs. working moms debate here.

What does need to be discussed is this ridiculous notion that maternity leave should become a contest for women, as though there's a test at the end: how many new computer programs did YOU learn between diaper changes?

I won't deny that taking time off from work to care for our kids puts women at a disadvantage in the workplace. But women are already incredibly limited in the time they can spend at home postpartum. We don't need to add more challenges on top of recuperating from giving birth, learning a whole new job (yes, motherhood IS a job), and giving baby that "best start" they so desperately need.

That mothers are looking at maternity leave as something they need to take advantage of to improve things at work says a lot about the way women are valued in the workplace. We shouldn't have to come back "better" than we were before we left. Where we were should be enough, what we're doing should be enough.

We are not taking time off so we can vacation in the Caribbean with a bevy of sexy waiters serving us cocktails. We are taking time so we can help the next generation of people get a good start in life. Isn't that enough? For employers and for women?

The system, as it is, sucks. But that shouldn't give women leave to screw their babies -- and frankly themselves -- by trying to climb the corporate ladder when they should be doing the hard work of being a new mom. Those women don't come off as good employees or good mothers. They come off, quite simply, as selfish.

Our kids need us. That's the point of maternity leave. Not to learn a new language or get a new job.

Shouldn't we, the mothers, value ourselves enough to realize this? Shouldn't we be fighting for the right to make sure maternity leave is valued?

If we moms don't fight for the right to have a regular old maternity leave, who will?

Did you do a "power" maternity leave? What do you think of this trend?

 

Image via emilywjones/Flickr

Filed Under: baby first year, bonding, maternity leave

Comments

24
  • Miche...
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    Michelephant

    November 6, 2012 at 11:49 AM
    If you have an easy going baby and have the time why not use the time off to improve yourself. A lot of people don't like having idle time, which can happen when you have some time even if you are taking care of baby.
  • Emily
    -- Nonmember comment from

    Emily

    November 6, 2012 at 11:50 AM
    I don't think it's that big a deal. Now I am a stay at home mom, have been for nearly ten years. But at some point I am going to go back out into the work force. So in the mean time I take on line courses. Is that wrong of me? I think if this is how they want to spend their time then fine. I don't think it's attacking stay at home moms. I think its just how they want to do their thing.
  • Maevelyn
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    Maevelyn

    November 6, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    I'm just going to go ahead and point out that in the UK (where the original article is from) women are given an entire year of maternity leave. One would hope that they would continue to grow as a person during their 12 months off and not only enjoy mothering but take steps to ensure they are in a better position to care for their child for the next 18 years in every way, Spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and economically. When you are more satisfied in these areas you are a better mother. 


  • dirti...
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    dirtiekittie

    November 6, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    if i had an extended maternity leave like they do in some places (6 months - 1 year), then yes, i could see it happening. however, i was given 8 weeks of maternity leave. two months with my new little person was hardly enough to even adjust to this change in my life, let alone to try and add to the madness! but if you have the time, energy, and resources - knock yourself out. as long as it doesn't take you from why you're REALLY off (that new bundle!) then it shouldn't matter.

    however, i kinda liken this to those moms who buy jogger strollers when they're still five months pregnant and expect to be back to pre-pregnancy body awesomeness within the first 3 months, a la new celebrity moms. to that i say - there's fiction, and there's reality. lol


  • LSeab...
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    LSeabolt1982

    November 6, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    I had a list a mile long of home improvement projects to do. Why use the time while baby is sleeping all the time to plant your ass on the couch. I used my time off wisely and got ALOT of stuff done.


  • kever...
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    keversole

    November 6, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    If some women want to set a bunch of goals while on maturnity leave, go ahead. I only got 6 weeks and would not want anything but getting to know my baby to be on my mind :)


  • MomLi...
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    MomLily67

    November 6, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Oh please!!! there a woman who feel this way and it's OK, if they belittle others that take the time to concentrate just on baby, that it their problem, as some SAHM criticize those who work outside the home.  You can acomplish some other thing, motherhood is about multitasking and these ladies are  "wired" to do that, so they are on hiperactive mode constantly.

    Everyone is different and will adapt to motherhood based on their lifestyle.


  • MsRkg
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    MsRkg

    November 6, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    I had 28 weeks leave, barely made it through 6, but you can bet during those 6 weeks I was still working (from the home office) and doing things to stay on top of my job and employees so that when I finally did decide to head back in, I wouldn't be caught up and overwhelmed. There is nothing wrong with women working or improving themselves if they wish too while on their maternity leave. Sitting idly by and watching your baby sleep is good for some women and for others can drive them insane.  Every new mother should do as she wishes when it comes to her and her familiy and the choices that she feels is right and not what society expects she should do.


  • Flori...
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    Floridamom96

    November 6, 2012 at 1:15 PM
    What someone else does with their maternity leave is none of your business.
  • Desig...
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    Designmama

    November 7, 2012 at 10:39 AM
    I don't understand why someone being productive during their maternity leave is offensive to you, that's quite ridiculous. It's in no way selfish for them to use their idle time to better themselves... This isn't the 50s where a woman should be a mindless slave to her children and husband!
    Some women have more energy and drive than others, some have work aholic personalities, and so they're able to pull off doing more than one thing with their lives (motherhood and career) more power to them
1-10 of 24 comments

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