Prioritizing Family: Why The U.S. Falls Behind
I am exhausted. I was told that once a baby reaches the three-month threshold that they become easier to manage. After passing the three-month mark, you are supposedly able to get decent rest. When having a new kid, the one thing new parents want more than anything other than to know their child is safe and developing correctly is sleep, which suddenly is hard to come by.
But, when I look at my daughter’s beautiful smile and cheerful disposition I know that I’m doing something right. It all seems worth it, the lack of sleep and the chronic fatigue that seems to naturally accompany parenting. In fact, someone once told me not to count on getting any sleep for the next 18 years.
The next biggest thing I’ve found myself struggling with as a first-time parent is finding any time to get any errands accomplished, especially when the kid starts to become mobile. It’s like, just when you think you’ve completed one hurdle, there’s yet another approaching.
Life suddenly becomes full of milestones and each on is more arduous than the last. Just when you think your life might get easier and maybe you’ll get some “me” time, forget it. “Me” time is over once you have kids. And I can’t imagine how anyone does it with multiple children. I look back when I used to watch the pre-divorce “John and Kate Plus 8.” I used to think that it seemed a little chaotic having that many children, but I figured what’s the big deal? How hard can it really be?
Having a child, even just one as opposed to multiples, is not an easy task to put it mildly. Becoming a parent has humbled me and taught me to value every moment. They say that these are the years one can never get back. It feels like just yesterday that I was eagerly posting a selfie on Facebook dressed in my fancy hospital gown anticipating the arrival of our daughter. It totally floors me that just this past 12th Ariabella turned 8 months! My little girl is trying to walk already, she’s like “screw crawling!”
She’s talkative, super happy and always smiling. She’s demanding, knows what she wants and is not afraid to voice it. She’s inquisitive and highly observant. Ariabella was like this from the very moment she was born. Everyone used to comment on how alert she was. Though this means she’s not some lump of a kid that just sits there and is totally fine with it. She would sit on my lap and watch me write at a month old. She’s got brains and beauty, two lethal combinations we’re already concerned about.
When you’re a parent you’d sacrifice your life just so that your child will be protected and safe. You immediately rid “me” from your vocabulary and everything is suddenly about your child. The greater good means doing what’s best, evolving on every area of your life just to ensure your child is taken care of, has good role models, and emulates parents that they can be proud of.
Having a child is challenging, but what’s more challenging is living in a country that doesn’t support mother/child bonding and family time as much as the rest of the world.
In fact, the entire world understands the importance of parental bonding. The fact that people say the hardest months are the first three is a total joke. My daughter is small in stature and therefore, smaller babies tend to have extended the newborn phase past “three months.” Yes, EXTENDED equals torture for parents who don’t wind up with that magical kid who immediately sleeps for 12 hours straight through the night. No matter what size your child is, the first YEAR is crucial for any child. Papua New Guinea, Oman, and the United States are the only three countries in the world that doesn’t have paid family leave.
In 1993, Congress passed the Family and Medical leave act that merely ensures a woman still has her job waiting for her when she returns from pushing out a human from her body. While some companies like Netflix has extended maternity leave to a year and Google taking the standard three months to five. Countries like Sweden makes you wish you lived there or at least a Sweden resident during and after the birth of your child.
Swedish citizens are the most generous when it comes to paid family leave. They shell out 480 days of paid family leave per child that can be used anytime from birth until the child is 8 years old! This is a government paid program that makes Sweden the best and most generous country if you so choose to start a family there.
The Bottom Line:
I’m not a perfect mom, but a new mom who is still learning and growing. To have a better generation after us, we need to evolve our laws to include not only family leave but financial support for the challenges of bouncing from one job to the next. It’s imperative that before we place harsh judgments on disobedient and violent young adults that we recognize that we can change the future of our country by investing more time to parent and child bonding from the moment they are born. We shouldn’t force parents to go back to work when the child is barely three months old. Honestly, a three-month time span with a newborn baby is not nearly enough. The Swedes have family as a priority, so they must be doing something right.
Changing our future means investing in our children today and that means sacrifice to ensure new parents are at home with their child/children and are able to soak up as much time they need (be it more than three months to a year or longer!)
Nothing matters more than the happiness and future of our children and our ability to help them realize both.
One thought on “Prioritizing Family: Why The U.S. Falls Behind”
December 28, 2016 at 6:39 PM
[…] return to work after their baby is just three months old. This is partly due to the fact that the United States, Papua New Guinea, and Oman all have one thing in common. They’re the only countries that don’t offer paid family leave for mothers. Switzerland […]