The mother is the sunshine of her home. When she cries, the clouds appear on her family’s horizon. Yet, she who steps on her misery, stands higher. (This is a paraphrase from the German poet Friedrich Holderlin.) What causes a mother to cry the most? She worries about her children. If her children are fine, she worries about the suffering of other mothers. That is the point of the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. It is not just your own children who are the future, it is everyone in your community’s children. We need to support those mothers who are struggling in their families. That is one of the things that doulas do. We also point out where help may be needed, so that other friends and family of a struggling mom can bring help. What is help? Maybe it is a listening ear. Maybe it is joining in with prayers. Maybe a hot meal for her family. Sometimes, the deepest worries can be lessened by a helpful community of mothers who care.
Archive for the ‘Mother to Mother’ Category
In the news, two of Norway’s prime minister’s male cabinet members are on paternity leave. The Reuters article then goes on to let us know that in Norway both parents get an automatic two weeks off after a birth. Then they are offered a combined 46 weeks of fully paid leave or 56 weeks at 80 percent of their normal pay.
Ten weeks are reserved for the father and are lost if he remains on the job (So, the other 36 of 46 weeks are for the mother. These can be taken concurrently with the father’s leave, or divided up between the 2 of them). Many fathers take more for themselves as their wives head back to work.
Later this year the maximum leave in Norway will expand to 57 weeks, with 12 weeks to the father, and the government intends to expand the father quota to 14 weeks later.
What do U.S. parents get? According to the Wikipedia article on parental leave, we provide no paid leave at all for mothers or fathers, but parents can have 12 weeks of unpaid leave. “The United States is the only Western country that does not mandate paid parental leave, although the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 mandates unpaid parental leave for the majority of American workers.” This also puts us behind almost all of the countries in the world, including Trinidad and Tobago where moms get 13 weeks paid leave. In Guatemala, the mother gets 84 paid days leave and the dad gets two paid days off for the birth of his child.
So here I am screaming, “Why should we be so far behind in this“? We are better off economically than Guatemala and they can afford it. Therefore, we should be able to!
We need to step it up, for mothers, fathers and baby’s sakes!
My husband, Chris Bailey, came up with this idea. His idea is that people get seduced into thinking only of “the current emgergency”. A person, family or even nation, can operate for a certain time on the adrenaline of worry about an emergency. We set aside other concerns and make this emergency our top priority. We live our lives on adrenaline. Our lives are not normal, but that is because of the emergency. We don’t eat or sleep properly, we don’t worry about the details of our lives, unless they are details about the emergency.
We can as people, families and even as a nation, continue this way for some time. But eventually, we can’t continue to live life on our nerves. The current emergency becomes daily life. Now the question is: do we live daily life as if it were an emergency? Do we eat badly, sleep less, not care about details of making our budgets work, not keeping our confidences private or allowing joy into our lives? Do we grimly live as if we are running through a very long emergency?
At some point, even in the most grim of circumstances, life becomes normal life again. We find joy in small things and we allow ourselves to rest. We stop living life on our nerves. This is natural and normal. We even begin to make small plans for a future without the current emergency in it. What will life look like without the current emergency? Will we be able to meet it with joy? That becomes our next question.
Everyone’s lives involve emergencies. Sometimes it is caring for the serious illness of a family member. Sometimes it is a crisis at work or at home. For nations, sometimes it is war or terrorism. But regardless, we cannot live our lives in emergency mode. We have to live our lives.
I am a working mother. But all mothers are working mothers. Even famous moms like Angelina Jolie are famous for their work. Just being a mom is a job and a half. We don’t really have a leisure class. All mothers work, either in their homes or both outside and in their homes. It can be exhausting to be a mom.
My hope is that one day we will have a year’s maternity leave the way many other countries do. I often see how difficult it is for a new mom to leave her six-week-old baby to go back to work — because she must. If she didn’t, she and her baby wouldn’t have health care benefits. Before a woman has a baby, six weeks of leave time may seem like enough. After all, if you had a six-week vacation at the beach, you would be looking forward to going beck. But when you are establishing your relationship with your newborn, six weeks go by in an instant. Many mothers feel very torn when they must go back into the work-place so quickly. Their babies need them so much and they also need their babies just as much.
Maybe we don’t want to grant mothers a year-long maternity leave because we don’t really value what a mother does. If that is the case we need to wake up! Mothers are essential and mothers rock! We need to get our legislators to see that.
The Post-Gazette reported that the new health care law means that midwives will be getting the same reimbursement as doctors for births and prenatal care.
“In short, it says certified nurse midwives will now receive the same Medicare reimbursement as physicians when they provide the same services, from prenatal care to routine deliveries. They had been getting only 65 percent of the physician’s fee.”
This change will mean that more people will be using midwives more regularly and that midwives will be able to afford remaining midwives. In Pittsburgh, many midwives have had to change their practices or stop practicing because they couldn’t afford to keep being midwives. This is a banner day for birth!