Anna Whitehouse, the famous UK mother, and writer who founded Mother Pukka put the business world on notice with her amazing LinkedIn post in which she shuts down the unfair myth that maternity leave is the same thing as a holiday.
“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,” the post reads. “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.”
And she’s absolutely right. Bringing home a newborn is incredibly challenging. Being woken up round the clock for feedings and nappy changes while simultaneously dealing with the fourth trimester not to mention the mega shift in family dynamics doesn’t sound like a relaxing holiday to me. No, drinking fruity mocktails on a beach somewhere while I read trashy romance novels sounds like a holiday.
“It is a job. Without sick days. Without fair remuneration,” her post continues. “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 foetal 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.”
Her post has struck a nerve and opened a dialog in LinkedIn where she brilliantly chose to start this conversation without pointing blame at any singular business but rather called out the business world, with more than 60 comments from parents in the workforce all applauding her message.
It is 2020 and we should finally put this unfair myth to rest and instead of shaming parents, we should do a better job and creating policy that supports families in the first place. Well done, Anna!