Sheryl Jesin


Ditch the guilt?

I recently wrote a blog post about the guilt I feel as a working mom.  Imagine my surprise when I came across an article in Friday’s Globe and Mail about the very same topic.  Leah McLaren’s article “Ditch the guilt, working moms:  The kids are alright” states that there is no need for moms to feel guilty for going back to work, because their kids will turn out just fine.

McLaren’s article has led to a flurry of comments, many from stay at home moms who are insulted by certain parts of the article, such as “Women who do nothing but parent may be more attentive, sure. Less able to make small talk at a cocktail parties, absolutely.”

I was a stay at home mom for 20 months when my son was born and I wouldn’t trade the time I had with him for anything.  Was I bored?  Not in the slightest! Did I think my brain was going to mush and that I was wasting my education?  No!  I found parenting my son to be an intensely demanding job that required a lot of thought, and my education and career had prepared me well for such hard work.   Did I think that I was suddenly incapable of making small talk at a party? Certainly not!  I still enjoyed keeping up with current events and personal interests while at home with Dylan, and both of these provided me with a variety of topics to discuss at parties.

Another part of McLaren’s article that I disagree with is as follows:

Sure, your three-year-old would prefer it if you sat on the floor playing Lego with him all day, but he’d also prefer to eat nothing but Froot Loops. That’s the thing about three-year-olds: They don’t actually know what’s good for them. And they certainly don’t know what’s good for you.

Sorry Leah, but you are wrong again.   My son actually enjoys a wide variety of foods, and has never tasted a Fruit Loop in his life.  Even if he had one, I am certain he wouldn’t eat them all day long.  From birth, I have respected and validated his needs regarding food – he was exclusively breastfed on demand for 6 months, and was then given complimentary, healthy, whole foods.   As a result, he is able to regulate his food intake and knows when he is full.  He actually does know what is good for him.  Furthermore, he even does know when something is good for me.  The moments we spend together playing lego on the floor, or hide and seek, or falling asleep together for a nap or at night may often be his idea, but they bring us both joy.

The working mom vs stay at home mom debate can never come to an end because it is so intensely personal.   There is no one choice that is right for everyone.  Each woman is entitled to create her own balance regarding work.  While working moms shouldn’t be made to feel bad for leaving their kids, stay at home moms shouldn’t be ridiculed for wasting their education.  We are lucky to live at a time and in a society where women are free to do as they please with regards to work.   Let’s support each other!


Aren’t you so bored?

I took a 20 month maternity leave after my son was born. During those 20 months, a very common question that people would ask me was:  Aren’t you so bored at home?  And my answer would always be: NO!

Pre-baby I was a corporate lawyer at a big downtown Toronto firm.  My days at work were long and busy, and my blackberry was always buzzing day or night!   Life at home with a baby was certainly different!  I was still busy, but in a very different way.  My days and nights were now filled with lots of feeding, burping, changing, sleeping, singing, bouncing, reading, playing, bathing, etc etc.  I had no choice but to change my go go go routine.   Life now revolved around Dylan and meeting his needs.

I find it amazing when I hear from other moms that they were bored on their mat leave.  Sure – certain afternoons could drag on and sometimes it can get tedious singing Ba Ba Black Sheep over and over.  But the joyful moments of hearing Dylan laugh for the first time, or watching him take his first steps certainly overshadowed and more than made up for any moments of boredom!

Most days, we didn’t have time to get bored!  We were always on the go, exploring the city and taking everything in

Enjoying the books at Indigo

Here are some of our favorite activities (in no particular order):

1.  Playing with the Thomas the Train table at Indigo or Mastermind

2.  Reading books at the local library.

3.  Going to the park.

4.  Taking a subway or bus ride.

5.  Enjoying a lunch date.

6.  Going to the mall.

7.  Sharing a coffee at Second Cup, Aroma or Starbucks.

8. Visiting with Dylan’s grandparents.

9. Going to a music class.

10.  Meeting other moms and babies at a La Leche League Meeting.

What about you?  What were some of your favorite activities while you were on mat leave?