My idea of a holiday does not include someone sucking on my nipple until it is raw

There is always a quote from FRIENDS for every occasion. And I refuse to say vacation when I am in the middle of trying to convince my three year old to stop calling me ‘Mom’.

I want to put this out there. We have to…no we NEED to, stop calling maternity leave a holiday.

Having just returned from maternity leave with my second bundle of giggles, poop and tears, I have been jokingly told by family, friends and the odd co-worker — ‘good luck going back to work after your holiday’. Even before going on leave, heavily pregnant, swollen and at times incontinent and facing into an unknown time frame of one hour sleep blocks, ‘enjoy your holiday’. OK, yes, mainly said as a joke but lets me honest, a joke with a jab. And to pull on the endless wisdom of my teenage years, aka FRIENDS, I don’t think a holiday includes something sucking on my nipples until they are raw….not to mention the poonamis, velcro baby and toddler, 18 hours of whinging (sometimes by the baby and the toddler) and of course the aforementioned FUCK ALL SLEEP!

And yet every time it was said to me, I laughed along, when instead I should have just pulled the person up on it. What is with us that we cant just pull the plug on this shit.

By indulging such crap I am part of the problem. Maternity leave is not a fucking holiday. It is the hardest and for the most part, the loneliest job I have ever had in my life. It is relentless and your only payment is cooing and giggles and even that doesn’t come until you are due to go back to your so-called job that pays in actual currency.

It is late nights until 4am followed by an immediate early start at 5am. It is having poo in your hair….that isn’t even your own!! It is when going to the loo becomes a spectator sport. It is lunch standing over the kitchen sink eating (and for the most part) sharing last nights dinner while drinking stone cold coffee which has already been microwaved 8 times. It is hiding in the utility room for two minutes of alone time and having the door reefed open by your newly crawling baby who then proceeds to try and crawl up your leg while screaming,despite having been with you for the last 13 solid hours, even while you went to the loo. It is trying everything and nothing works — your coworker wants up so you lift them up but then want down so you set them down but they want a dodi so you give them a dodi but they don’t want a dodi they want to play so you play but they want up so you lift them up and that cycle repeats every 90 seconds until bedtime when you get 40 minutes reprieve until they wake and decide that is enough sleep for the night. It is anything but a fucking holiday.

And yet, in Ireland, lets be honest, it is the furthest thing from long enough. Yes, it is hard but right when you just find your rhythm and are getting into to swing of things you are expected to go back to work. We need to sort our shit out, look at other more functional examples in Europe and reevaluate our maternity leave policy.

Politics aside, seriously, lets stop referring to maternity leave as a holiday…even as a joke. It makes parents taking the leave feel the need to try and justify it, we should never ever have to justify maternity leave. It is the hardest leave in the world and isn’t even as long as it bloody well should be! It’s not sitting sipping wine…well not before 8pm anyway…it is moulding the future and doing that on fuck all sleep.

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