I’ve often heard there is inequality in the workplace, and that is absolutely true, but the kind of inequality that actually exists may surprise you. There are complaints of glass ceilings, lower pay and discrimination for women, etc. And that may exist in certain instances, but the real inequality exists for men. Think about all the allowances that businesses are required to make to women, particularly during pregnancy and the post-natal time period. First, during pregnancy women often get morning sickness, suffer back pain, swollen feet, etc., not to mention they are prone to other complications, can suddenly go on bed rest with no notice, are unable to lift or push heavy objects, use ladders, and have to take a large number of breaks to rest, eat and use the restroom. They also have to go to very frequent doctor appointments and leave their job from as few as 6 weeks to several months or more once the baby is born. An employer never knows if they will actually return to work, so they do not know if they should look for a permanent replacement or a temp. Women often keep their actual plans a secret to avoid losing health insurance benefits. In either case, employers must spend time and money on training, drug tests, background screenings and interviews. A lot to go through, and very costly. This is on top of the lack of productivity from a pregnant woman who doesn’t feel a hundred percent and has many other things on her mind. But assuming the woman returns to work, it can get even worse. If the woman decides to breastfeed (a completely legitimate choice that helps the mother and the child and is deeply rewarding), the employer must suffer even more. In almost every profession, the employer must accommodate the breastfeeding mother. This requires giving her time and a place to pump during work. Let’s break that down for a minute. It takes 15-20 minutes to pump to get to the hind milk that is needed for the baby. Assuming a few minutes for set up and a few minutes to clean up, you are looking at about a 30 minute break every three hours. If you go to work from 9 to 5:30 with a thirty minute lunch, your schedule could be as follows: Work an hour, take a thirty minute break to pump. Work an hour, take a thirty minute lunch. Work one and half hours, take a thirty minute break to pump. Work 2 hours, pump, work and hour, go home.You get paid for 8 hours. You work 6 and half hours. And that is assuming you actually work that entire time. Most people have a warming up period after a break where they have to get their minds back into work. And that doesn’t count any breaks to talk with co-workers, get coffee or water, use the restroom, etc. The employer must have someone else to cover the time she is pumping, and they must provide somewhere to pump. If this happens to be a break room with kitchen, well any other employee is just out of luck if they need anything in that room while she is pumping. Other employees must move their lunch plans around to accommodate the breastfeeding mom. And what if there is a meeting scheduled when she needs to pump? It can be a very big deal, depending on the workplace. Imagine if a man were to ask for that many breaks during the day. He would be laughed out of his job and replaced with someone who actually wanted to work. Don’t think for a moment I am disregarding the amount of work a mother puts into taking care of her family and home, on top of a job out of the house. I do not imply that any new mom is lazy or doesn’t want to work or do her job. I am simply saying that good intentions aside, a breastfeeding mother is a costly inconvenience to any business.
I am not suggesting that businesses should not make accommodations for breastfeeding mothers. I am myself a breastfeeding mom who puts my own boss through these same inconveniences. I do it for my son, so that he can get the best and be as healthy as possible. But I’m not stupid enough to think that it is fair on the other employees. I can’t imagine any business wanting to put up with any of that. But if they say anything, they are sued for discrimination and treated like the bad guy. It is a wonder any businesses even hire women between the age of 20 and 40. And that isn’t enough. We want more. We want more money, more benefits, more everything. We claim we aren’t treated fairly. Well, fair is a relative term. Life isn’t fair and all I can say is thank God I’m a women, because I could not do what my husband does. I could not put up with the months of extensive overtime, long hours, no vacation, standing all day in the heat/freezing cold, on concrete floors with back pain, neck pain, foot pain, and no sleep, watching my wife bond with our children while I am forced to work for her to stay home, never getting that same opportunity to bond with our children one on one, never getting to even take a break to welcome them home, since maternity leave puts us one paycheck short. We run on the same sleep deprivation from late night feedings, but he does not get a break to rest. He does not get a break to do anything. All the while, women complain about those evil men in the workplace who get paid more. Guess what, they deserve it. Not all of them. Sure, there are some women who deserve more pay, just as there are some men who deserve much more pay than they receive. That’s just the way life is. Truth be told, if we all stopped worrying about some imaginary glass ceiling and wanting to get the bad guy big business who just wants to stick it to women, and started worrying about what was most important (family and being with our children) things would be much better. If women could afford to stay home longer with their children, if we didn’t have to all work two jobs just to survive, it would solve a lot of problems. Think about it. If women could afford to leave work during difficult pregnancies and stay out of work long enough to finish breastfeeding, they could feel free to inform their employers of their plans with enough notice to allow them to make plans, hire their replacement and train said replacement. They would not have to deal with all the doctor appointments, breastfeeding at the workplace, etc. Husbands would not have to work their fingers to the bone to make up the lost pay and could afford to take their vacations to be with their little babies and children more. Moms wouldn’t be stressed about wanting to be home, feeling guilt over leaving her baby and looking for ways to make it right. Wouldn’t it be a much better place if we could all just be honest about what we really want and stop playing around? Mothers should not feel guilty about wanting to be a mom and stay home with their children. We aren’t less of women or betraying those who fought for equal rights when we want to be a mother. Women fought for the right to give us a choice and somehow took one from us. Instead of being forced to be a mom, we are now forced out of motherhood. I’ve met many career minded women who did not even understand wanting to stay home with their children unless one had too many children to afford childcare. To them, it was only something you wanted to do for financial reasons. What has happened to us that women have lost that bond with their children? Instead of being raised by loving parents, our children are raised by day cares and schools. We are fighting for the wrong thing. Instead of fighting for equal pay and rights at work, we should be fighting for our right to be mothers again. We should stop trying to force ourselves down employers throats and be an inconvenience to everyone and start trying to take care of our families.
-A.D. McLain http://www.wotpast.com