What message are you sending to mothers in America being so nonchalant about maternity leave? The nation’s Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows new parents to take up to 12 unpaid weeks of leave, was only passed in 1993. Our country is behind many other nations, and if anything, the United States needs to do more not less to give new mothers a break before they return to work. Australia, for example, gives new mothers up to one year of job-protected leave, according to an Associated Press article. You have a terrific bully pulpit as a new female CEO. The message you’re sending now is terrifying. Have a new baby, work at home as much as you can during those exhausting first weeks of motherhood, then head back to the office.
I too had a great job when I became pregnant with my first and only child. I was an assistant city editor overseeing education at The Boston Globe, where I had always wanted to work. I got the job in 2004, was married in 2006, and became pregnant in 2007. Most women where I worked took three months or six months off, but I knew of a few who took an entire year. I took a year off with the understanding that I likely would not return to the same position I had upon departure. My career would go backward, but I decided I was OK with that. That, of course, was my choice. So was ultimately deciding to quit the Globe in favor of freelancing and teaching and spending several days a week with my son, who’s now 4.