In a perfect world, working mothers and fathers would get longer time towards maternity and paternity leave. It’d even be paid, at their regular hourly rates or salary, and the insurance premiums would be covered by their employers and then taken out of their paychecks as normal. Heck, employers would even be more accommodating towards the parents’ shifts and needs with their little ones. But we don’t live in a perfect world, far from it, and we must face reality and exhaust resources, finances, and ourselves in order to provide for our families.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job and I am glad my work provides maternity leave, although short and unpaid. I’m thankful I was able to use all of my vacation time for this year in order to stay home with the girls when they came home from the NICU, and then able to take a 3-month unpaid personal leave of absence. It was harsh having to pay my full insurance premium for those three months, but I’m thankful I had my coverage while out of work.
I’m aware that some jobs are able to offer some sort of flexibility to parents when it comes to their shifts or even allow them to work from home a few days a week, but that doesn’t happen when you work in any hospitality workplace that never sleeps. I’m also aware that I could very well switch jobs and have that flexibility, but when your heart is truly in the kind of work you do, you stay and make the absolute best of the situation. I may not have weekends off with my husband and babies, I may have unexpected (and mandatory) last-minute overtime that keeps me at work for a few extra hours at a time, and it can be truly challenging to find someone to switch shifts with so you can try and enjoy family time together, but I truly love my job and the fact I am able to work and contribute to our little family.
All of that aside, it is a little hard being away from the girls for 6 to 8 hours 5 (and sometimes even 7) days a week. It’s hard coming home after having to work later than planned and missing the bedtime “ritual”. It’s hard receiving a text from either my husband (who is thankfully able to work from home a lot) or our babysitter about one of the girls doing something they’ve never done with me. It’s hard realizing that the four of us can never really spend quality time together anymore, or take advantage of the gorgeous weather on a stroll by the Erie Canal.
Be kind to working parents, especially first-time parents. You never know how sensitive of a subject it may be to them, or how hard they’re trying to be positive when they’re bummed out that they couldn’t get the day off to spend it with their newly-formed family. They may be happy to be back at work and have some adult socialization and even feeling like their old selves, but it doesn’t mean they’re not longing to squeeze their little ones.
I guess it’s a good thing kids don’t remember much at all from their baby years.