Rachael Larsen took 4 years to finally share her story.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 9, 2021. It has since been updated.
One working mom shared her story of how much stress balancing work life and motherhood is and how US parental leave policies add to it. Working mothers tend to get stressed and exhausted but are forced to keep hustling to make ends meet. Rachael Larsen took 4 years to finally muster the courage to share her story which she penned down as part of a LinkedIn post. After going on maternity leave for 12 weeks, the new mom wasn't ready to return to work full-time but she didn't have a choice. Rachael, who’s a director of product operations at a Salt Lake City education company, wrote that “The shame around raising a family and working full-time is real,” and added that no matter the circumstances, “she wasn’t ready.”
"As a majority income source for our family, I was forced to suck it up, put on a smile, and get back to work." 💔https://t.co/DyFBMRMJTJ— Working Mother (@_workingmother_) March 3, 2021
She posted a picture of her looking heartbroken. Alongside it, her post reads in detail: "It took me four years to have the courage to share this photo. Even now, it's hard to look at. The shame around raising a family and working full-time is real. I took this on my first day back to work after my second daughter was born. I wasn’t ready. My daughter wasn’t ready. She wasn’t sleeping and was extremely fussy. I woke up five times the night before to feed her. I was exhausted. As a majority income source for our family, I was forced to suck it up, put on a smile, and get back to work. I know that I am extremely privileged. I was able to have some partial pay during my maternity leave and I was able to take 12 weeks off. I had a job that I loved at an amazing company with great bosses. I had a daycare facility that I could afford with great teachers I trusted. But… I was not ready. We need to do more to support parents and families. It may have taken me four years after I knew I’d never have another baby to share this photo. But, I’m glad that I have the courage to speak my truth now."
She later added: "THANK YOU for all the kind words and support. I am overwhelmed by your compassion. I’m trying to reply to all of the comments but the feed keeps throwing errors. Please share this same support to any new parents you encounter."
PopSugar reports that according to the Organisation For Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), OECD countries provide mothers with a minimum of 14 weeks of paid leave. American parents can get 12 weeks of parental leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act only if they: "(1) work for a covered employer, (2) work 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave, (3) work at a location where 50 or more employees work at that location or within 75 miles of it, and (4) have worked for the employer for 12 months," according to the Department of Labor's website.
I’ve known of mothers going back to work 6 weeks after their baby was born because they couldn’t afford to miss work with zero paid maternity leave. My pockets hurt after 3 months. America is real fucked up. Another number in a system.. https://t.co/YMcyxXmbCK— 🤷🏼♀️ (@aeharris10) March 6, 2021
Many came in support of the mom and pointed out flaws in the American system. Lisa Jones highlighted: So easy to pick out the Americans from the rest of the world. "I suffered, so you should too" goes along with " I'm fine with helping people, but only the right people." That should help answer the question of why we're so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to taking care of our citizens. Tony Mechling added: Maternity leave is awful in America. Yet other industrialized countries have figured out how to pay workers a livable wage and give them time with their kids. All the older generation asks what's wrong with the kids now. Maybe ripping them away from their parents and putting a minimum wage worker in charge of them at day care, isn't a great idea.
Yes, most of us get 12 weeks. Some get none. If you work for a small company, they aren't required to give you leave.— Melissa (@MelissaTNDmom) March 5, 2021