Maternity Leave

Whoa, so much controversy in the media about Marissa Mayer's maternity leave, or lack thereof. I was not a high powered CEO at the time of Laurel's birth, but I was employed. I worked as a graduate student researcher while I was finishing my master's degree, and worked about 10 hours a week on campus, plus took 2 classes. I didn't take a maternity leave because....well, they don't really offer that to graduate student peons, and I really needed to keep my health insurance. I also had no flipping clue what it would be like to take care of a newborn, and thought - if not a piece of cake - that it would be at least doable to continue working without pause.

I guess it was doable. I mean, we did it. I finished my degree and managed to fulfill my job expectations with a creative mix of having my mom come to babysit, dropping Laurel off at M's office, and carting Laurel along to my office, breastfeeding her discretely while typing at my desk, changing diapers in between conducting training sessions, and praying she wouldn't cry too loud, because Pitt is definitely not a take-your-baby-to-work kind of place.

Life got easier in some ways once we got better paying jobs and could afford full-time daycare, but there's just not a lot that's fun about waking up multiple times at night with a fussy baby and then teaching math. However, as a working mom I felt good about being able to make a living that allowed us to make some safety improvements in our home and buy a car and have access to really great health care and organic food. These are all things that are important to Laurel's well being too.

If you assign a dollar value to everything in your life, it becomes easy to see why Marrisa Mayer would want to stay dedicated to her job. She's a CEO. She's making beaucoup bucks. I'd want to hang on to that, too.

We're not all living in the same America. Rich and poor and middle class women don't have equal access to anything, much less decisions about maternity leave. We do the best that we can with what we've got, and probably the last thing any woman needs is a lot of judgment about how she weighed the pros and cons of her own decision.

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