Mom Reminds Bosses That Parental Leave Is a Job Without Sick Days, Not a Vacation

A mom on LinkedIn refuted passive-aggressive remarks that family leave is like a vacation, then beautifully described the highs and lows of new parenthood.

photo of mother with newborn in boppy on her lap with the text " takes balls, guts (often with no glory)..." over it
Photo: Illustration by Parents Staff; Getty Images (1)

Expectant parents are on a crash course to learn a lot before their baby arrives. One of the unfortunate truths they'll find is that there is currently no federal law requiring employers provide any kind of paid time off, according to a Congressional Research Service report on Paid Family Leave. That means it's usually up to your employer to offer paid leave. And even then, you might come up against resistance in the form of passive-aggressive remarks insinuating that you're vacationing as opposed to learning the ropes of parenting and bonding with your infant. A mom in the U.K. named Anna Whitehouse recently addressed this issue in a viral post on LinkedIn.

Whitehouse wrote:

"A reminder to businesses: Maternity/paternity leave is not 'a holiday.' It’s not 'a nice break,' and it is not time off. It's a heady cocktail of anticipation, expectation, arrival, and survival. It's stripping yourself back to a primal state and nakedly navigating blocked milk ducts, torn stitches, bloody sheets, broken minds, manically Googling blackout blinds. You are needed. Every second you are needed—if not in person, in mind. It is a job. Without sick days. Without fair remuneration. It is the most privileged position in the world but it takes balls, guts (often with no glory), boobs and any other extremity you can put to work. It’s the purest happiness. It’s the starkest of contrasts. It’s hobbling to the park post-birth, riding an oxytocin high; returning home, crumpling into fetal position, succumbing to a postnatal low. It’s life in its purest, ugliest, most startlingly beautiful form and it is raising others higher, above your hunger, above your exhaustion, above your needs. It is raising the next generation. #flexappeal #maternitydiscrimination #challengethestatusquo"

Many moms could relate, applauding the post and sharing their own experiences.

"This is a very honest post, Anna, and it's your passion and persistence raising these issues which are going to make waves (and already have!)," wrote Felicity Beasley. "Your comments certainly resonate with me! I remember a comment being made before my first maternity leave about enjoying my 'holiday.' A fabulous colleague and mother of two was quick to point out that raising a human is no 'holiday' but the most responsible job you will ever have. Here here!"

Ria Ingleby shared, "I remember on my last day of work before I started maternity leave a senior leader said, 'Enjoy your time off because it will be busy when you get back.' I felt the guilt creep in... I felt like I was leaving people in the lurch and that overlaid with huge anxiety of the unknown of childbirth, parenting, and so much more was not the best start to my maternity leave!"

Props to these moms for calling out discriminatory assumptions far too many new parents face in the workplace. The more we continue to set the record straight, the better it'll be for anyone who is doing their best to juggle a career and the first days of parenthood.

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