The problem with being a freelance, work-at-home mom is maternity leave (among other things). As in, I won’t really have one. Because I already work from home, staying home with a newborn doesn’t mean I don’t have to work. I still have the same bills to pay (and then some — hello, insurance deductible). Of course I feel fortunate that I’ll be home with baby girl No. 2, just as I have been since the birth of baby girl No. 1, and I wouldn’t have it any other way — except for maybe having to work while I’m trying to focus on the new life that I’ve brought into the world.
What I don’t understand is the women who don’t have to work who still choose not to enjoy a real maternity leave to get the full bonding experience with their babies. My mom always told me not to count other people’s money, but when you’re Ivanka Trump and Victoria Beckham, I don’t have to count; the size of their gazillion dollar bank accounts are in the public domain.
No matter how career-oriented you are, why do women (like Ivanka and Victoria) proudly say they’ll be taking next to no time off following the birth of their babies? If you’re having a baby, don’t you want more time, especially in the beginning?
Ivanka Trump recently announced that she has “meetings on the calendar” two weeks after her due date with her first child this summer. “But of course, I’ll have to get to know the baby’s needs first,” she said.
Forget about the fact that she makes caring for a baby sound like a business brief that has to be memorized before she can move on, I wonder why someone in her position doesn’t feel she can (or maybe she doesn’t want to) spend more quality time with her newborn. (This is, by the way, totally forgetting about the fact that two weeks after birth she’ll likely still be recovering — physically, emotionally, hormonally — from the actual act of giving birth.)
Victoria Beckham is expecting her fourth child this summer and she, too, says she’ll be taking little to no time off from work.
She said in an interview with Glamour magazine: “Maternity leave – what’s that? I’ve been working incredibly hard so I’m prepared for next season. Being a working mum is hard – I think women can relate to me when I say it’s like juggling glass balls. My husband and children will always be my priority. But for me, what I do professionally doesn’t feel like a job – it’s my passion.”
I understand being career-oriented. It’s something I’ve struggled with since my first baby. I’m very intent on maintaining and furthering my career, but never been to the detriment of my relationship with my baby, and that won’t change. Of course with money comes privilege — a nanny and a nursery in your office, perhaps, so that you’re never far from your baby. Or help at home and fully functional working office so you can work remotely.
But the reality is, as any work-at-home mom knows, the baby always wins, or at least should win. Something will have to take a back seat if the crying baby has already been fed and is wearing a clean diaper. The business phone call or meeting just has to wait, or, sadly, the baby does. Something or someone always suffers. Sure, there’s the whole working mom struggle — taking time off might mean that your male co-workers have an opportunity to get ahead while you’re nursing at home. However, in many cases that just isn’t the case. Regardless, you really can’t have it all — at least all at once. But don’t you know that when you decide to have a baby in the first place?
While I have no interest in working in a traditional office setting, the idea of a paid maternity leave sure seems nice sometimes. Most larger companies usually offer time off for new moms in the range of six weeks to six months and the thought of time with my baby that’s not interrupted by work sounds like heaven.
Which is why I really don’t understand women who don’t have to work immediately following the birth of a child but choose to anyway. No matter how much help you have, I don’t think your focus and attention on the baby could possibly be the same, and no matter how dedicated you are to your career, why you would choose to walk away from such a precious time in your child’s life.
How much of a maternity leave will you be taking? Do you wish it were longer? Shorter?