Did you know at least 66 countries guarantee a father’s right to paid paternity leave and in half of these, that leave is 14 or more weeks guaranteed? The US, of course, is not one of those countries. (Goodness forbid we legislate the sorts of things that would actually encourage family values! Nope.) Most of the dads I know were able to take a week or so off, which counted against vacay time, and that was considered more than sufficient, both socially and professionally.
The mister is now a few days into the second half of the paternity leave he negotiated with his company. Cobbled together with vacation days, to be more accurate. We thought it would be nice - and his company thought it would be better for the business - for him to take two two-week chunks instead of a consecutive month of leave. That way, he got two weeks of newborn time with Bo (while I got two weeks of full-time help around the house) and then two weeks of smiley three-month-old time.
Let me tell you, the mister's being here for those three-month-old smiles couldn't have been timed more perfectly. I said goodbye to my day job but am still putting in my polite two weeks... while simultaneously starting my new writing and editing gigs. And on top of that, P. has been home because her daycare provider is dealing with health and family issues. This, as you might imagine, has made for a less than relaxing paternity leave for everyone here at Chez Swan.
But it works, whew. And I'm glad that the mister gets to hang out with Bo - and P. - while I get to transition from full-time work back to freelancing without going out of my @#$% mind. Or at least I'm a little less frazzled than I might otherwise be.
Wouldn't it be nice, though, if legislated or not, companies in the US were better about recognizing that people really do have lives outside of the workplace? Flex-time policies for parents and non-parents alike or telecommuting or some kind of totally new, cool working arrangement that isn't just 'be here during the best parts of the day 5 days a week'. It might mean that mamas like me would be less likely to say to heck with it when a baby comes along (when Google took its maternity leave from three months to five and made it fully paid on top of that, new mom attrition fell by half) and papas could see more of their kids, at birth and beyond.