Simple Parenting

Dear America: What Mom Really Needs This Mother’s Day

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By Bethany Robertson

Dear America-

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I know you’ve been scrambling to figure out what to get me.

This year, I wanted to make it easy for you and let you know what I’d love more than anything else: Paid parental leave.

I know, I know—you did get me that great Family Medical Leave Act more than 20 years ago, and trust me, that meant an awful lot. Being able to take time off after childbirth without losing my job was a big step in the right direction.

But can I be honest? It’s just not enough. In those early months, I shouldn’t have to choose between taking care of you and getting paid.

Diapers, food, rent, going to the doctor—you know I’d do anything for you, but you’re not cheap. So it’s hard for moms to take much time off post childbirth without a paycheck.

The truth is—most moms like me in the US head back to work just over ten weeks after giving birth. Nearly a third of us working moms don’t take any time off at all. Can you imagine? Give birth on Friday, back to work Monday!

I try not to be too jealous of other moms, but all those other countries like India, Brazil, China, and the U.K. give their moms paid time off. It’s really just me and mothers in six other countries worldwide that have to choose between time taking care of our babies and lost income. Here’s looking at you, Swaziland.

Just in case you think it’s time to do something about this, check out this great policy called the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (The FAMILY Act)—it would offer moms like me up to 12 weeks of partial income after giving birth.

I know, I know—a policy like that would be the mother of all Mother’s Day gifts. But don’t just think of it as a gift for me, because it’s really a gift for you, too, America.

More maternity leave means I’m likely to breastfeed longer and you’ll be healthier in those critical early years. Plus, paid leave makes it more likely I’ll return to my current job—reducing my company’s turnover costs. That’s good news for all of us.

So America, thank you for cherishing mom and apple pie as much as you do. But this Mother’s Day, let’s skip the flowers and chocolates and get me something I really need.



Ailen is the Managing Editor at ParentsTogether. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and two spirited boys.

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