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Challenge: Stop Mom Judging

Why I'm Not Judging Marissa Mayer's Maternity Leave

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And you shouldn't either.

I rarely make bold statements or opinions in the blogosphere, because I kind of hate blog controversy. But when I saw the news of Marissa Mayer's maternity leave recently, the backlash by other moms of her statements stirred me up. For those of you who missed it, she stated she was pregnant with twin girls and would be taking two weeks of maternity leave, just like she did with her son several years ago.

Gasp. Shock. Horror.

She must absolutely hate being a parent if she only wants to take two weeks during this precious time, right?

She must have a huge team of people who actually do the parenting.

She must be so focused on her career that she's a cold, icy mom.

It's unhealthy for her and the baby not to have more time together.

All of these were judgements, assumptions, without us knowing anything about her real life.

Isn't this where we as moms - working moms, stay-at-home-moms, work-from-home-moms, whatever label you prefer, recognize everyone has the freedom to make different choices. One may not work for another and there really shouldn't be judgement there. By judging other moms, we're totally negating every opportunity that women do have - at work or at home.

Announcing a pregnancy (let alone your second) to your management is never easy, no matter what position you have. I can't imagine what it must be like for Marissa Mayer to need to distribute a press release and answer to the media, let alone clear it with her board. She is pioneering the way for women in tech and in leadership, and yet she still has to defend her decisions about how she raises her children and decides to manage her family.

I realize that my own position is much different than hers, but as a working mom, I know we all face the time to decide and plan our maternity leaves. And I know that from a management standpoint maternity leave requires important coordination and planning. With Shep, I told my boss I was likely going to take the full 12 weeks off, but when Shep was six weeks old I wanted to do a check-in to see where my projects stood and to ask myself if I was ready to go back early. That was my plan, and I was nervous as heck about what it would actually be like.

I'm no Marissa Mayer. I wasn't ready at all. I had just gotten over a complication from my C-section and wanted to spend the rest of my maternity leave getting to know my son. And those last six weeks were some of the best and hardest moments in my life. I learned to be a mom and had valuable time to bond with my son.

But that is what I needed in my circumstances. I'm not in any position to know what anyone else's circumstances and choices are. I'm not a CEO and I'm not having twins. So I don't know what it must be like for Marissa Mayer to make the decisions she has about her maternity leave. But I do respect her decisions, and admire all she has done for women in the workplace. And if she is ready at two weeks to get back to the office? Who am I to offer any opinion on that?

Instead, let's do a better job of standing together and supporting other working moms and their choices about how they choose to get back to the workplace - or not. At the end of the day, we all want our children to be happy and healthy, and there are many ways to accomplish that. Judging brings us further apart, it's not bringing any of us closer together.

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