I read somewhere recently that in the very few states that offer government-subsidized paid parenting leave, very few men actually use the benefit. That is, there’s money out there for new fathers to stay home with their children (“bonding leave” is the term), but only a small percentage choose to take that money and run (home).
My office, and my state, doesn’t offer any form of paid parenting leave. It is a rather flexible place, however, and my boss has allowed me to work from home for a good part of this month. This was extremely helpful after Tomoko returned home from the hospital and was very limited in her mobility. That period lasted for about two days.
The amount of work I was doing at home (combined with the care I was still providing for JP) proved disruptive enough that Tomoko actually kicked me out of the house (with a smile) today and told me to go to work. The phone calls with writers and fact-checkers (I’m on deadline) were enough to keep the baby awake, which meant Tomoko couldn’t nap, and because I was working, there was only so much I could do to help her with Ellie.
Of course, things would be different if I too had the three-months-plus paid leave that Tomoko receives from her employer. I wouldn’t have to complete my normal work tasks while helping change a newborn, do all the cooking and shopping, get my son to school on time and pick him up, walk the dog and feed the cat, drop off and take back the laundry (this is New York, folks), and all the other errands I do around the house regardless of pregnancy, new births, or anything else. But that’s just the crazy, radical, communist inside of me talking.
Oh well, Ellie and I can always bond when I get home.