A tiny minority of elite career women love to boast about how little maternity leave they took to spend with their newborn baby. They think that they are the bees-knees if they can get one over on their sisters. Oh, I took two weeks, well I took one week, well I took one day. Until finally one of them says – I was still e-mailing while they took the baby out via c-section! Congratulations – you’re the bomb.
The latest feminist wheeze comes from the delightful Lady Barbara Judge, a high-profile American-British lawyer and first female chair of the IoD, who took only 12 days off when her son was born (slacker). She told an audience of female executives at a meeting of the Wealth Management Association’s Women In Wealth Forum that “long maternity breaks are bad for women”.
She advises new mothers to shun the traditional year-long maternity leave and instead take a few weeks – a micro maternity leave. Otherwise your career might suffer.
Lady Judge cites her own mother, who said: “When the baby is born it needs to be fed, bathed and diapered. An 18-year-old girl can do that. Your job is to get the money to pay the 18-year-old girl. When you have to be there is when the child gets smarter than the nanny.” This is exactly the kind of advice I would expect from a woman of that generation. It is up there with put honey on baby’s gums when they are teething, and brandy in the bottle, sure there’ll be no harm done.
It does not surprise me that Lady Judge puts such value on the cognitive development of the baby – that is what the cognitive elite do and there is no doubting Lady Judge is one smart cookie. But the emotional development of baby and indeed emotional bond between mother and baby seem not to matter at all. Nor, might I add, does treating the nanny like a nincompoop.
This is a classic example of the kind of elitist feminist agenda we have spoken out against for so long. The issue was never with ordinary mothers who work, but with a tiny minority of feminists who push a hard-core agenda of squeezing out time for mothering at every turn. And you do not get more elitist than a lecture to an audience of female executives at a meeting of the Wealth Management Association’s Women In Wealth Forum.
Lady Judge is yet another women who shames mothers who dare to take their full maternity leave entitlement because in truth they think looking after a baby is easy peasy – something an 18-year-old girl could do. These women are just too damn important and indeed smart to be getting their hands dirty, what with the nappy changes, feeding and general baby gooiness. Sure that is the job for nanny.
But the truth is that for many of this cognitive elite returning to work makes sense because they just cannot hack it at home all day with a small baby. Too much time on one’s own with a small baby that cannot talk back is challenging. Too much time just being instead of doing gets to them. It is easier to just call in the nanny and go back to what you are good at and where you are appreciated, namely the office.
It is one thing to return to work early because you just cannot stand it at home. That is your choice and if you really hate it at home you and baby are probably better off if you get an engaged, caring nanny to do the nurturing instead. More power to you. But to advocate this choice for everyone else – well that is what really ticks me off.
Finally, a word of warning to my feminist sisters. Remember, looking back many years from now what memories will you have? How many memories do you need of looking after other people’s wealth compared to the memories of looking after your own baby, ticking toes, chubby cheeks, dirty nappies and all? I am sure the wealth funds will not go anywhere – but you’ll never get those first few months back with your new baby. Although I fear such advice is wasted on the good Lady, whose stated ambition is to ‘die at her desk.’