The fight is real. Not to be reduced to motherhood despite all its joys. Of course a woman is defined by her capacity to produce another human but we forget it is men who are also capable of doing so – we can’t reproduce all by ourselves or change gender by-will like some green frogs or even the famous reed frogs! If women can be reduced by their capacity to reproduce, so are men and somehow men have gone over and beyond it by being present at work despite fatherhood.
So I asked my partner right at the beginning after his two weeks of paternity leave (compared to my fourteen weeks), if he felt detached (as suggested by many while arguing “manliness” and “masculinity”) thus making it easy for him to return to work? He said “no, it’s tough to go back”. He explained that it’s hard for him to go back to work when all he wants to do is see his baby boy, hold him in his arms, play with him, feed him (as our child is bottle fed), and even the thought of changing our little ones diapers was more appealing to him than leaving him at home and going to work. But it is expected of him to do so, and he enjoys working and his career is important to him so wouldn’t change that aspect despite the pain of separation from his newborn.
I asked him, if I were to return immediately to work would he have stayed home? He said depending on our individual salary but yes he would if I earn more. It is clear to me that we work to live in Switzerland unlike in America (and many other countries) where people live to work. But also the fact that as a mother I am far more in pain to leave my newborn behind and have to think of motherhood (or at-least giving birth) as a “to-do” task and tick it off in my head, just so I can distance myself from my emotions – is a fact that is not alien to my observation. No wonder doctors suggest working women to return to work as soon as they can to hold on to the bit of sanity that getting outside home (and actively participating in society) brings to an individual.
Here I am genuinely awed by the male capacity of being able to put duty first. Perhaps it is because it is ingrained in them since childhood, while motherhood is ingrained into women? Our way of approaching the same outcome i.e. going out to work after the birth of our child, is so monumentally different. One does it cause that is exactly what is expected of him – to provide, and the other does it not only because she genuinely loves to work, but because stay-at-home after motherhood is expected of her, so she goes to work for a subconscious purpose to prove the society wrong in their assumption that a woman’s career was short lived due to the onset of motherhood.
This fight is real. And the fight is also with self more than with society and social conditioning.
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