Rachael Larson — mother of two — recently shared a heartfelt message about returning to work postpartum that's been gaining a lot of attention on LinkedIn:
In her post, she says, "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."
People in the comments started pointing out how the workplace is not designed for parents:
And many moms started sharing the struggles they faced going back to work after giving birth:
Some moms even shared that the lack of maternal support from companies is the reason they left the workforce altogether:
People who are from other countries also shared how big of a culture shock maternity leave in the US was for them:
The post even made some of Rachael's colleagues respect her so much more:
BuzzFeed spoke to Rachael, who said, "I wanted to share the picture the last few times it popped up [on my memories], but I was too scared. I shared it on LinkedIn because that is where most of my professional connections are. At work, I'm known for having it together, but the truth is that sometimes I am barely holding it together. I hoped that by sharing it with coworkers, they would feel more welcome to be honest about how they are doing. I want everyone I work with to know that they have permission to not be okay all of the time. We are humans, not robots," she said.
The photo Rachael posted of her crying was taken right before she backed out of her driveway to go to work. "My C-section scar still throbbed, and trying to find professional clothes to wear was horrifying. I made my husband drop the girls off at daycare because I knew I'd be an absolute mess. I felt embarrassed and powerless for not being physically or emotionally ready when I was expected to be. There was grief, heartbreak, and shame."
Rachael understands that she was actually privileged to have three months off for maternity leave because some women don't even get that. "One of the most misunderstood parts of my post comes from people who had less resources than me. The intent of my post wasn't for sympathy, it was to create awareness about this human experience that so many people go through but never share."
Rachael also received negative comments saying she should just quit and get a new job. "They are sexist. Can you imagine anyone saying that to a man? They assume that I provided no value to my employer. Six months after I returned, I won an Employee Of The Year Award and went on to help build software that saved them millions of dollars."
And, when it comes to companies, Rachael has this message for them: "Whether you know it or not, employees are judging companies by who is stepping up and going above and beyond what FMLA requires. If you truly care about the well-being of your employees, you'll find ways to be more supportive. That doesn't have to mean you give everyone six months fully paid. Even small things, like allowing employees to work from home, adjust their hours, providing facilities for mothers who breastfeed, or assign returning employees more project-based work so productivity can be flexible will help with the transition," she said.
Special thanks to Rachael for shedding light on this issue — parents, how can employers better help and support their employees who have children?
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