Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A taste of BKK

September is flying by.  It's difficult to imagine that this picture was taken over two weeks ago, on a day we found ourselves in Fairfax, Virginia.  I was desperate for a cup of coffee and we stumbled into this cafe, which turned out not to be a coffee shop but a Thai restaurant and one that, with its decor and soft music, transported me back to the many small eateries on the streets of Bangkok.

Even more difficult to imagine is that I will be back to work in a few short weeks. I'll be greeted by one of those crazy caffeinated weeks at a certain international institution.  I've been stewing, disheartened by my maternity leave options, or lack therof. I'm with an organization that has worked on international human rights for many years and yet I had to fight to get more paid leave. I also fought for more unpaid leave and lost that battle. And while I admit we're fortunate enough to have the resources where I could work very part-time for a while, I have no job protection if I choose to do so - and thus, I will be going back to work earlier than I had planned.

In the past weeks, I've wondered several times if we made the right choice to move back to the US.  I know we did, but it's not easy to reconcile that conclusion with the realization that I would have better maternity leave options (and easier access to affordable daycare) abroad.  I think back to the position I was vying for before this DC position came up.  It was with an international group based in Paris and would have had me ping-ponging between Bangkok and Paris. Interesting, but not ideal for motherhood. Yet, I am certain my maternity leave options would have been far more favorable.  But in the end, I didn't make the final cut, so it's a moot point.

How do women do it?


  1. I've always found maternity leave policy in the States to be absolutely insane. I used to work at a law firm, which had a very generous maternity leave policy, but it still paled in comparison to those of other countries. But, when compared to other jobs in the U.S., it's outrageously long. Add this to the list of things I didn't really *understand* until after I became a mother (I know that expression is so annoying, but it's kind of true on this point). I feel like at a few months postpartum I was still healing physically, as well as getting my act together mentally. And to think some women are back at work in several WEEKS' time...!

  2. I wonder that myself. Over the last nearly two years, I've been in awe of those women who seemed to hold it all together, even though I now realise that there was probably chaos and upheaval underneath as they pieced together the fragments on limited sleep. I had to go back after 4 weeks (no maternity leave but at least S was born during a vacation). Granted I don't have a 9-5 but how do you tell your toddler that mummy has to grade/prep class when they are yelling "nooooo" and pulling you towards their toys? I don't know how we do it except we do because we have to. And the alternatives of being childless or child-free are so much worse.

  3. You're very likely right, Moya. It can seem effortless, perhaps even easy, from an outsider's point of view. I don't know how we do it. I'm certainly struggling - I never feel like I'm on top of it at home or at work. Something is always lacking; I'm always tired; I'm less effective as an advocate and I wonder if I am being a good enough mother. But through it all, I am learning to be kinder to myself. The alternatives are worse.

  4. You sum up exactly how I feel, Jocy. I'm always behind on grading, research/writing falls into gaps between semesters when I'm not playing with him and the early part of the term before grading kicks in. I fear I'm not a good enough mother because I'm tired and torn all ways. And my home is a mess and I'm fatter than I should be because I can't find time to exercise or get enough sleep to have the energy to really move. But I'm trying my best and I don't think any mother really thinks she's good enough. I know from friends that it does get easier but there is something sublime about their dependency at this age and the purity of their love.


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