Best of both worlds

I read a nice story today about a professor being accommodating of a mother bringing her baby to class. I feel this should be extended to all respects of a mother’s life. Ever since my second child is born, I have been telling everyone who would listen that we would greatly increase productivity of our society and improve baby well-being if we have a culture of accepting parents bringing their children along with them to work or other activities.

I would gladly trade 4 months of maternity leave for 2 months leave plus another 4 months of working with baby brought into office. But there is no such choice and so I took no pay leave to make up the 6 months which I feel is the minimum amount of time my baby deserves with me caring for her. I am lucky to have the ability to make such a choice. Some parents do not have such luxury and as a result children’s health suffer (difficult to breastfeed while working), family relationships suffer (less time for bonding) and potentially child development suffers (mothers arguably provide the best care).
So far I have been on a one man crusade with few audience / allies. I have brought Sandra to conferences, seminars, to meetings, to office when I am asked for discrete pieces of work that is hard for someone else to take over, and to my volunteer activities such as ushering during Mr LKY’s mourning period. People have generally viewed me as an oddity rather than with support. I regularly get told that babies are not allowed in certain meetings / events even though I am confident of controlling my baby such that she will not be disruptive (benefit of breastfeeding is its very easy to sloth a baby). I sure hope that my actions are chipping away at old mindsets.

I do hope that one day our society becomes more open and supportive of mothers in ways that do not entail taking their babies away from them (infant care, foreign domestic helpers etc) but in a way that encourages mother-child bonding (ie accept mother+child as a competent package capable of performing most tasks that mother alone can perform). I truly believe that I can handle my baby and do other things at the same time with perhaps 80% efficiency (to claim 100% is unrealistic), but once people see me with baby they write me off as almost invalid. Why? Can I please have the chance to be both a mother and everything else I want to be?

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