“You must be enjoying time with the kids during maternity leave!”
“How is it being a new mum with no work in the office?”
” At least with your time off on your maternity leave, you can rest and sleep as much as you like. The cute newborn must be so special to make you stay home that way. So cool, right?”
If you have been pregnant and gone on maternity leave to welcome your bundle of joy, these words are way too familiar. Said by fellow workmates or friends without an ounce of wrong intentions, they surely cut deep. Why you ask?
You are sleep deprived
Spare yourself and don’t stay up late watching Netflix before becoming a parent. Because when you surely become one, sleep will be a thing of the past. You suddenly have to kiss sleep goodbye as you deal with whines and cries all night. Even if you apply our recommended tips to help your baby sleep longer, you are bound to suffer.
For that reason, maternity leave is a period filled with eyebags, which make-up can do little to hide. As far as the dictionary shows, vacays are a time for sleep, relaxation, and unwinding. Total opposites for a new parent.
Juggling a newborn is a new job
You can do your best to maximize your maternity leave. However, nobody tells you how hard and how unprepared you realize you are for the new job. It is more like being given a whole file of documents for a totally new concept at work. Only with harder repercussions and any mistake may lead to death. With such high stakes, maternity leave seizes to be a vacation.
On a vacation, you are expected to rest not work! If you did not know, pregnancy is just a tip of the ice bag of the workload that awaits you.
No one prepares you mentally for parenting
When going on vacation, you spend all year saving, buying new clothes for the period and packing your bag for what you may need. Your mind is in tune that you will be going to relax. Unfortunately, even with preparations for birth, nobody prepares someone well enough for parenting. Especially so because each experience is unique.
Your child may be born prematurely or you may have a traumatic birth. With so much happening, the mental load can overwhelm somebody. Nothing close to the deal you get during a vacation.
There is no reward for the new job
Some organizations offer remuneration packages for the maternity leave period. Others, it is your salary. For some, you may get nothing, worse still, be fired. Whichever the case, no amount of money surmounts to the new parenting job bestowed upon you. In fact, children come with financial demands that can weigh your pocket down more than a vacation does.
It has little to do with ‘rewarding yourself for your hard work’ as is the vacation mood. Parenting brings out the vibe of ‘you have to keep making more money to be spent on a job that you will hold forever, without a reward’.
Maternity leave is a time where women nurse wounds, have sores and aches from different body parts with fluids oozing from different corners. It is a moment that amidst all these happenstances, she is expected to muster the courage, love her child, run her household and embrace her postpartum body. The least we can do is to empathize, encourage and celebrate this woman. For not even her employer is as demanding as a newborn baby.