Our new columnist, Jennifer Kissane, is going back to work soon after maternity leave and it’s a time filled with emotion…
“On the day a baby is born, so too is a mother. She never existed before.”– Rajneesh.
My baby is 6 months old and the hazy, fog-filled daze I’ve been living in is lifting. A tentative routine of a night’s sleep has prevailed and I feel like me again.
In fact, it’s like the universe is plotting, as my maternity leave is officially over. I am on annual leave and due back to work next month.
The thoughts that have overcome me as I think of this are fear at such a change, ( I barely have a minute in the day as it, how will I fit a job in?!), guilt and anxiety of leaving my baby, while I leave to go to work is overwhelming.
I’m certainly not the first woman to be a mother and have a career. Pre-baby, I have spent the last third of my life studying to become and working as a Social Care Worker.
I am currently seconded as Acting Centre Manager, a challenging role, within Day and Residential services for people with intellectual disabilities.
I love my job, and I’ve always strived to give and be 100%. Likewise as a mother, I expect to be no less and give no less. The dilemma I face is, can you really be both, a mother and a career woman?
Is it possible to be two people? (Not to mind being a wife and just being me!) Not only that, I feel the 26 weeks was really about 16, surely if you don’t sleep through a few weeks you should get them reimbursed as sometimes the days of the week were very unclear!
The options facing women after the 26 weeks maternity leave are an additional 16 weeks unpaid maternity leave.
Parental leave is also an option to help mothers with a work life balance. Of course a positive change in Ireland has been the two weeks paternity leave for new fathers, introduced from September 2016.
Figures released only last week have highlighted a very poor uptake of this leave by fathers, particularly in Kerry. Perhaps unused leave by fathers could be added on to the mother’s leave?
I write this wistfully thinking, why Ireland didn’t look to Scandinavian countries like Norway or Sweden, where you have a full year maternity leave.
All in all, new mothers and new families have a juggling act ahead – time-wise, financially and in their overall familial well-being as you balance work, family, child care costs and basically striving for overall happiness.
Whether you choose to be a stay-at-home mom, work from home or work outside the home, there are choices to make and those 26 weeks of blissful blurry sleepless hormonal days are over far too quickly.
• Jennifer Kissane is mommy to Fionn aged six months and stepmom to Jordan aged 13