Independent Woman Week- Work

Yesterday I said an independent woman was organized. Then I went on to say she'd have a great career! Hmmmm am I setting myself up for failure? Do I have a great career? I think I have a career...a great one?

When I first started working it was to support my acting career. I was an artist first. When I booked a commercial it was more about the fact that I got to act than the money. I gave it up when I felt I had done what I'd set out to do. I had started writing too and even sold a script so I decided I would continue to write. Indeed something creative in this world or I would just shrivel up and die (there's the dramatic actress coming back!) As I got older though, money making became more important. I was thinking about my future.

When I met hubby I was working as an apartment manager (still writing), presiding over a 90 unit building in the Hollywood hills. It took it's toll, and when hubby said to quit and write full time I was ecstatic. At first.

I soon realized I was a little scared. Suddenly it wasn't my money. he was making money and I was living off his money. Don't get me wrong, hubby and I merged money when we were dating! It was always our money, but that was when I was contributing. I didn't feel I was doing that anymore! He reassured me, but it still bugged me. Even though I started trying for a baby and then battled fertility, I was still wishing I had kept some kind of job. How the hell I could have worked through that time beats me...but still.

When I got pregnant I became focused on the nursery, planning and writing was on the back burner. I was going to be Mom! Maybe I didn't care about making money?

Unfortunately Landons birth did not go smoothly and He spent 52 days in the hospital NICU. That became my full time job. When I finally caught my breath I was exhausted. I just allowed myself to enjoy motherhood and writing.

Now that I'm working part time I really realize how much I missed it. There is something about making your own money and being known as more than Landons Mother that makes me feel amazing. Hey I'm an independent woman now right? Hold on.

As women and mothers we have an insane burden. If you have a child and work you are judged as being not a good mother and selfish. If you stay home, you can be judged as being boring and all about motherhood. Who can win? There are sacrifices on both sides. For me, when I work I miss some adorable Landon moments and have to let someone else be with him. When I'm home I can sometimes get so bored! Sometimes the quiet is too much. Other times Landon is testing me and I am pulling my hair out.

I think things are set up wrong. We don't support each other and the system doesn't support us either. Where are the breast feeding rooms at work? Daycare that's good and affordable? Awesome part time jobs? Where is the maternity leave that actually lasts more than three seconds?

Check this out. This will get you fired up!

* France is the most generous with parental leave: All women workers get
a fully paid, job-protected, mandatory maternity leave six weeks before and
ten weeks after birth (with increasing amounts of time for twins and
multiple births). After this period, paid leave is available to either
parent until the child's third birthday, or as long as at least two
children at home need care.

* Germany provides mothers with a 14-week job-protected maternity leave,
paid at 100 percent of the worker's net earnings. After this initial
maternity leave, paid parental leave is available to both parents until
the child's third birthday.

* In Italy, after a five-month period of maternity leave paid at 80
percent of the mother's wage, parents can take leave together or separately for
ten-month periods at 30 percent of their earnings up until the child's
eighth birthday.

By comparison in the US it is unusual to have maternity leave at all!!! Some enlightened companies do offer new parents paid time off, up to six weeks in some cases.

Most likely, you'll use a combination of short-term disability (STD), sick leave, vacation, personal days, and unpaid family leave during your time away from work.

Things did improve in 1993 with the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles most workers to up to 12 weeks of job-protected medical leave for birth or adoption. However, the FMLA doesn't cover those who work for smaller companies and guarantees only unpaid leaves.

Pissed yet? This independent woman stuff is starting to piss me off!


Feener said...

did you see the article in the times about google and daycare ??? very interesting.

The Shabby Princess said...

Ugh! Yes, the work/home balance is tricky.... And, hello, the "leave" that new moms get here in the U.S. is rough. My work gives weeks paid and then of course included the FMLA, but, that is unpaid, and, my work is touch and go as to if you can take more time off (unpaid, of course).... We don't have children yet, but, are hoping to change that soon, but, it is hard to think about having only 12 weeks and then going right back to work--hello!!.... Man....

Far From Perfect said...

left you something on my blog

Belle in Bloom said...

Pissed? yes. 10 yrs ago when I had my first son, there was NO paid leave for a choreographer. During the days I taught at a private school to help supplement my normal income. My other job was to travel and create and after an emergency and messy c-section, that was not possible. The first weeks of his life where not blissful carefree new mother, but the "I'm so worried and stressed about money that I feel like I'm going to die" mother. Once we had our second son, Hunny was way more financially stable and it wasn't quite so stressful. However, I went back to work way too early both times, wearing layers of spandex on my incisions because it felt like my guts were falling out. :) Again, with no paid leave. With both pregnancies, I was tap dancing on a Thursday night and giving birth the following afternoon. Something is wrong with this picture...

Lauren said...

Right now I have no idea how I am going to handle a family and a job. When the time comes, I hope to have a flexible work schedule. It is too bad we don't have better programs in place for new families in the US.

Thanks for sharing a thought provoking post. Enjoy your day!

caroline said...

First, congratulations on your blog - I enjoy it daily! Secondly, I just wanted to add that Canada has an amazing maternity/paternity leave system: 1 year paid leave, to be divided by the parents. Usually, mothers take the full year and fathers take a few weeks off using their vacation time. The mother can also add 6 months unpaid at the close of the year, while retaining complete job security. Plus, the daycare program is subsidized too - it's $5 a day per child. Originally form Montreal in Canada, I now reside in LA, and am a new mom to a 4 month-old boy. I'm a SAHM (also an artist on the side) for now, but am quite nostalgic for the respect mothers enjoy in Canada. I agree with you: that the system is set up wrong. And, I believe that at the core of this problem is a disregard for women's rights.

Anonymous said...

oh yeah- i hear ya (with the way we're treated for giving birth to the future of our country). Don't get me started on that one!

I hate all that hoopla about the SAHM and the WOOHM. You do what you have to do for your sanity and survival. I love working part time. It gives me my own moohla, have time to spend with the kid, have time to spend on my own- 'cause I'm selfish that way- after all, I'm an 'only' child. Anyone can feel free to judge, I'm having a grand ole' time! :)

Pink in a sea of blue said...

When I was pregnant and working FT I was so pissed when I read about maternity leaves all over the world! I took 12 weeks leave both times, but it's hard and you aren't paid the entire time. However, now at home it's hard, too! Even though it's all our money, I miss that money I was contributing and how it made me feel. I so want to find a "good" part time job working at home so if anyone knows of one... :) I really am starting to feel like I'm missing out on something. Even though I know I've gained almost 2 years' worth of wonderful memories with my kids.

Etiquettely Correct said...

You are a great writer! I really enjoyed reading that. I am not sure what I am going to do - but I love my fiance and I have faith in us. I do think that women don't support each other as much as they should. The women before us worked so hard to get us equal rights and yet women still fight among each other - whats up with that???? Anyways - I really enjoyed this post. You really are a fabulous mom :)

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

I've worked full-time since the age of 16. When I had my son in 2005 I took 7 weeks off, all paid by saving up vacation and sick time. FMLA doesn't apply in my small company, and I was under pressure by my boss to return to work ASAP. When I left my tiny 7 week old baby at daycare that first day I WAS a little pissed about the expectations of the working world and the pressure moms are under. I think even if moms do take 12 weeks (or more) off, there's always that underlying subliminal pressure about work awaiting them to return. I have no opinion what-so-ever about moms who stay home vs. moms who work. We're all in this together. However, I've been judged harshly on many occasions by "Christians" who think mothers should stay home to raise their kids. One lady even told me working moms are the bane of society. Ugh.

Mom x 2 said...

I agree - that's why I think it's dangerous to say independence is only based on money/career. Independence is much more than that.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I don't contribute to our finances. The only way I affect our finances is to consume them. My husband has the sole burden of being the breadwinner. I just have to remind myself that this is what I wanted to do - be with my kids. I'm lucky I had a CHOICE in the matter.

Also, while I think it's disappointing how our maternity leave stacks up against other countries, if you compare our tax rates to France, Germany and Italy, you'll see they're much more heavily taxed. I'm a liberal and therefore don't view taxes as evil, but many in this country don't agree and would never want to pay 50% of their income to taxes so women could stay home longer.

Good topics this week!

Mrs.Preppy said...

The debate between stay at home vs. go back to work is a hard one... I would like to think I already know what I would do, but I am sure that all changes when you are holding your little one for the first time.

Mrs LSL said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. Very informative - and what an eye opener! Although I LOVE my job, my priority has always been to have a family. But balancing is going to be so hard when the time comes to start a family. I'll keep you posted on our outcome (it's going to be a while, I think :) ).

And I LOVE your new header, he is such a beautiful little boy! :)

ilovepink said...

I deal with these issues everyday! You are happy median and not enough suppport!!!!

Self Confessed Lamp Tramp said...

This a long-suffering debate that will go on a lot longer. I went through it for many years with anger, bitterness, and lots of flowing tears. I'm on the other side now, since I'm enjoying -ehem,... (shhh).... 55 years of ladyhood. I can so relate to the "stay at-home-Mom/Working-Mom" debate. Forgive me, but let me compare this to one of the many "Katrinaisms" we on the Gulf Coast sadly had to learn to accept and live with.... "THE WORST THING THAN BEING HERE IS NOT BEING HERE!" Don't know the origin of this saying, and would like to give credit where crdit is due. But it is such a universal truism for us all to remember. We all want the best of both worlds and sadly, life does not always allow us to have said above. Somehow, MOMMIES, you need to find your own balance, no matter how unfair it is. Do the best you can possibly do for your sweet children for and yourself. You will be truly rewarded in the future.

Karen said...

Great post! You always get us thinking! Hope you've had a great week.