• Carmen Graham

Is a motherhood slowdown good for us?

My day job is in creative marketing. So all day long we're helping businesses find the "silver linings" and "pivots"." But if there is one thing that the past 6 months have proven is that parents–especially moms–are re-establishing their relationships with their kids and with parenting itself.

Going to be super honest. Never in my entire existence pre-COVID did I want to stay at home with my kids. Not because there is anything wrong with it, or because I don't SUPER respect the moms who do, it just isn't in me. I'm restless, I like the challenges of teamwork with coworkers and making things and presenting to people and while I adore my kids and could eat their faces I love them so much, it just didn't ever feel natural to me to NOT go back to work after they were born.

Ask Melanie what I did the morning I was in labor with Bob if you don't believe me.

But what has been so striking throughout this societal upheaval we're living in is how my mom friends, and my pregnant friends are coping.

Some of us are finally setting boundaries with work. Taking lunch breaks and hanging out with our kids, maybe even putting them down for a nap.

On a Tuesday evening walk–-probably around 5pm when I'm usually scrambling to wrap up a workday.

Bitch as we may, some of us are watching for the first time what our kids look like when they're concentrating on math or reading or even lining up their trucks (hi Christopher).

My pregnant friends are powering through, but taking advantage of WFH to take midday naps I know I was DYING for when I was pregnant both times. Unfortunately mid-day naps aren't a thing at most offices.

And then I read this fascinating article in the Times about how in some areas, NICU and premature births have been down. Now to be clear, this is NOWHERE NEAR enough data or study to call it any kind of a win. But it is interesting to see how potentially, the fast-paced, go go go of our lives even prenatally, takes a toll. On us, on our kids, and even potentially on our unborn babies.

When I was pregnant with Christopher, we lived in NYC. And 4 weeks before he was due, my doctor said do not think of leaving the city, do not walk to work, this baby wants out and we need him to stay in. Maybe start canceling some meetings. IT DIDN'T EVEN CROSS MY MIND. And not because I didn't want to protect him, or didn't care. But I didn't think I had a choice. And he was born a week after that appointment. Just past the cutoff between premature and to term.

Taken between meetings

Needless to say there are hundreds of thousands of variables here. Needless to say, not everyone–and actually most people–don't have the luxury of "chilling out" when it comes to work or raising their other kids. Most people thanks to our archaic laws, don't even have maternity leave to speak of. Needless to say, I am VERY lucky to have had healthy pregnancies and births and maternity leaves both times.

But as what might be a coping mechanism, this study validates for me something I've felt throughout 2020 ( besides wow what a shitshow).

I've realized how valuable my time with my kids is. I've realized how valuable I am, as their mother and as a person, and how I should charge people (with interest!) for my time and energy.

And while I think I'll always have my "work thing" and other moms with have their things, maybe a silver lining has been this time at home. Maybe it's good our employers and our government see how pregnant women NEED to rest, even when they say they're fine. To see how moms ARE juggling both, because what's the alternative?! And if I say I need to hop off an interminable call to put a baby down or feed a toddler, sorry, but I'm doing it.

And maybe, there is a silver lining in seeing that not only we can "slow down" and reimagine how our lives work, but we must.


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