Having kids means you have this whole new set of responsibilities and an immeasurable amount of love for these little beings you brought into this world. It's heavy. It's incredible. It's also -- at times -- a thankless endeavor. And I don't mean that your kids will turn into brats and not be grateful for all you do. I mean society, the world, all the other people in your day to day that you deal with can be unkind and discriminatory.
Which is why, perhaps, we need some sort of bill of rights -- the things that every mom needs and deserves. Hint: It's not the coolest diaper bag, nor is it the secret to soothing your child when she cries.
1. Paid maternity leave. One of the biggest health care issues this country faces is maternity leave. Italy gives new moms five months of maternity leave at 80 percent pay. Australians have the option of taking a full year off while maintaining job security. Some American mothers get nothing. They have a baby and lose their job if they cannot return to work right away. As a society, we say we care about our children, but we do not allow mothers to care for their children after they are born. This isn't about special privilege. This is about the basic right of babies (who are people) and who deserve care from their parents without the parent worried they will lose their job. Twelve weeks -- the most a company gives in America -- isn't enough.
2. Access to a comfortable room to pump. Comfort does not mean the bathroom. If a mom has returned to work and is breastfeeding, why is it so difficult for some employees to accommodate them and figure out a way so the mom can pump at work in a clean, comfortable environment? Pumping itself can be stressful, but if a mom's workplace sets her up with a good place to pump, she will not only be more productive when it comes to producing breast milk, but at her job as well.
3. Access to safe and affordable child care. Some moms have to go back to work after baby, and then we are faced with the daunting task of finding child care that we can afford and we can trust. If we offered better maternity leave, this helps the child care situation since it's when babies need to be with their mom the most (those first months after birth). There are places where child care is supplied by the companies the mothers work for, but that is extremely rare in America. My wish is for more companies to step up and start setting an example that hopefully will in turn make others follow.
4. A flexible work schedule. If you read this and
think this is unfair, and why should mothers get the privilege of being
able to work around raising a child, then you are part of the problem
and failing to understand that babies are people, too. They need someone
to care for them. They are the future, they are life -- and once upon a
time, you were a baby, too, who needed and deserved proper care to turn
into the adult that you are. Mothers (or fathers) deserve a flexible
work schedule to care for their kids. I understand some are not able,
and the job model simply doesn't allow flex time, but some can. Why some
companies refuse to try a flex work schedule is confounding. Happy
employees are the most productive -- isn't it worth a shot?
5. Respect. Like babies, mothers are people. We deserve respect at our job and not face discrimination because we asked for a proper pumping room or a flex work schedule or to come in an hour late so we can take our child to the doctor. We also deserve respect for being a mom -- for simply and complexly being a mother -- which is one of the most important "jobs" in the world.
6. Birth advocacy. The way we birth our babies matters. It affects us, the mother carrying and delivering the baby. A natural birth means a more natural recovery. We deserve respect during our pregnancy, we shouldn't be forced to have a c-section, our wishes deserve to be heard. We need people on our team and this can include our partner, a doula, a midwife -- others who see birth as a natural beautiful thing, who share our beliefs, who believe in our ability to birth a baby, and who will help us achieve our best birth. Our voice should be heard and respected. Birth should only be a medical procedure in the event of a rare emergency. Judges and c-section-happy doctors should stay out of it.
7. Kindness from other mothers. The mommy wars need to stop. To be respected, we must respect others -- isn't that what we teach our kids? Be kind to each other. Be empathetic. We are all mothers but our circumstances are all different. Be kind. We all deserve kindness.
8. The ability to breastfeed in public without feeling ashamed. It's a troubling fact that over half of Americans think breastfeeding in public is an obscene act. That problem lies within our society's infatuation with breasts as sexual objects only. If we work on changing that, we can maybe start to overcome many things, including the sexualization of women, and perhaps it's a small step in winning the war on women.
9. Time outs, for themselves. We the People, the Mothers, deserve to go to the bathroom alone, with the door closed. We deserve uninterrupted time in said bathroom, without jarring knocks or startling door knob jiggles. We the Mother have a right to enjoy a cup of coffee, whilst still hot, without having a "Ma, can I have this?" "Ma, can you get that?" interruption. We the Mothers also should get a little time out now and then, to collect our thoughts, to do something for ourselves, so we can be great mothers.
10. An incredible pair of shoes. Sometimes it happens that motherhood takes over and those heels you used to think were your most comfortable walking shoes ever become the shoes you never wear because running after a toddler in them isn't do-able. We still need those incredible shoes -- the shoes you put on and feel instantly gorgeous. Maybe it's not shoes, but a dress, some lipstick, something that makes you feel good when you have it on. We also deserve a night out to wear those shoes.
Do you agree? What resonates most? What would you add?