• Better Late Than Never: A Delayed Maternity Leave

    Guess what?! I’m on maternity leave! I have two children, thirteen and ten, both girls, and I decided last week, that I am currently taking the maternity leave that I never really took when each of my children were actually born! Congratulations to me!

    In order for this to make any sense (stay with me), I suppose we better rewind to just over 13 years ago, to new mom world, just after my first daughter was born. I was in a brand-new role at work, having left my job in fundraising in order to have a more home-based role as the dorm dean of a girls’ dorm in a boarding school. Though I did not change places of work, the move from my role in advancement to student life went from a full-time to a part-time position, and because of that, I was not considered eligible for paid maternity leave. In effect, I went from being an office-working non-parent to an at-home-working mother of ahem, 85 girls, (one was my own, the rest were my residents) and did not have leave. I remember feeling completely out of my depth – I had a two week-old infant for whom no “how to care for” instructions had been provided, along with 84 teenage girls, ranging from 13 to 19 years old. I was living, for many what was an absolute nightmare, and it was considered “part-time” work. For me, it was far from nightmarish, as I truly enjoyed my time with all “my” girls, but “part-time” it was not. In the six-week period after my daughter was born and my role as a mother was born, I went from zero to mom-hero, never to look back.

    So why am I bringing this up now? As I have shared items on Instagram over this past month, the pieces that seem to have resonated most with you all have to do with the inability, as mothers especially, that many of us have to advocate for ourselves, to listen to the own needs of both our minds and bodies, and to, at times, give ourselves PERMISSION to take the rest that we so badly need. At 28, I was afraid to advocate for what I needed – a legitimate maternity leave, fearing that the work would get pushed to someone else or that I would not be viewed as invested in my work. At 41, I am giving myself the permission now to do what I’ve needed for quite a while: to really live one day at a time, slowly building this counseling practice, nurturing her growth by being attentive and playful, as she calls to me, and resting and reflecting in the times during which her needs are not so great. I exercise the same mentality with my human, in-the-flesh children these days too. We sleep a little later, we rush a little less, we focus more on the moments at hand as we build our new lives together. Them, with a mom who’s around a hell of a lot more, and me, adjusting to the new role as being a parent to three.

    Whether you give yourself the permission to take the rest that you need now or later, my wish for you is this – take it. Maybe it looks like mine – the world’s most delayed maternity leave, or it’s that long awaited cross-country road trip you always wanted to do, tech-free and off the grid. Maybe it “sounds like” mine – call it whatever you need – maternity leave, time away, a snooze, a career pause, I don’t care. Whatever you call it, however you do it, give yourself permission to rest. Rest, or a pause, is not productivity-oriented; it does not have to be earned and it can be taken just because you feel like it. Tune into what you need, self-advocate, and allow yourself to sink into the sweet surrender of being restful. You will not regret it.