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Do you hate me now?

2006-06-09 - 10:19 a.m.

Lately Iíve noticed that the women who write blogs and journals I read and are mothers of young babies are wrestling with the issue of staying home or going back to work. Some have chosen the former, some the latter, some have wanted to do one but have been ďforcedĒ by circumstance to do the other (either they donít want to go back but need the money, or they sacrifice a career they like for the good of their kids), and all are musing over what this means to them and their sense of self.

Now, most of the women who are in this situation are from the States, where they have to deal with the lamentable fact that they are only entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave, and itís unpaid. This seems absolutely barbaric to me. Here in Canada, we are legally entitled to a year of maternity leave at half our salary, up to a weekly maximum of $413. Thanks to a job with a generous benefits package I am ďtopped upĒ to 93% of my salary. I can be a stay at home mom (SAHM in the blog lingo Ė but somebody shoot me if I start using DH (dear/darling husband) for J or DD (dear/darling daughter) for Grommet, that just bugs) for an entire year without feeling any economic pinch.

This has had a couple of repercussions: One, as Iím still bringing home a salary greater than Jís I havenít noticed a huge need to feel like Iím ďearning my keepĒ or ďdoing my partĒ by becoming the perfect housewife who is a cleaning machine and still has dinner ready for my husband when he comes home. Grommet takes up most of my time and Iím unapologetic about it. To avoid feeling isolated I spend quite a bit of time online when Grommet is asleep.

The other is that all the big decisions and self-examination that go along with going back to work are being delayed, as are activities like looking for daycare. Have you ever noticed that when you have a lot of time for something you end up being late with it because you think you have all the time in the world to get started and then before you know it that time is gone? Just me? Well, I have not yet started to look for daycare. Itís partly because I donít like the idea of daycare so Iím putting it off. Itís partly because work, and going back to it in February next year, seems so far away. Yet I know intellectually that I will have to bite that bullet. The thing is, you see, while I may not like the idea of someone else raising my kids, I LOVE the maternity benefits I get with this job and since I want to have another child and take advantage of the benefits again Iím kind of stuck with going back. The other thing is, to get these benefits I have to agree to return to work for a time equal to the time I was gone, so Iím kind of locked in for another year at this point anyway.

BUT, the other great benefit of my job? I can take up to an additional FOUR YEARS off in unpaid leave and they have to give me a job when I come back equivalent to the one I had when I left. This means that after the second one I could stay home or even start a business and work from home until my youngest is in kindergarten. How cool is that?

In the meantime, you can bet that I'll be writing my own musings about returning to work in about 7 months as I (eek!) prepare to turn my child's well-being over to a stranger.

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