This post is part of Women’s Money Week.
Planning for maternity leave sucks. When I found out I was expecting my first child I sat down with a calendar and mapped out the days and weeks until I would need to return to work.
My son was due in late October and I ran all sorts of calculations to determine the maximum amount of time I could spend at home. Since my vacation hours reset in the new year I wondered if I could take STD, a week or two of vacation, then maternity leave and take another two or three weeks of vacation after that.
No matter how many times I stared at that calendar I could not figure out a way to extend the time beyond ten weeks. I knew I was lucky to get that much paid time off, but the idea of returning to work after less than three months made me feel incredibly sick.
I had every intention of returning to my job after my son was born. My tasks weren’t particularly difficult. I earned a six figure salary and worked from home a few days a week. Who wouldn’t go back to that?
But as fate would have it I never returned. I suffered the consequences of a large company-wide restructuring effort. One day I walked into work and was told my position was no longer needed. After twelve years with the company that was the end of that.
My lay off was a blessing in disguise. I no longer needed to feel torn about staying home versus returning to work. My company didn’t provide maternity leave, but they did pay me in the form of a six month severance check.
I lined up a job that was set to begin when my son turned six months, but as the months came and went I still didn’t feel ready to return to my old cubicle life.
As the due date for my second child approaches I think a lot about the circumstances that brought me to where I am today. I completely understand why employers can’t retain a new mom’s position indefinitely. I also understand the turmoil and inner struggle of women who just want a little more time with their babies.