When Hungry Boy was born, I was the main breadwinner of our family (as I still am). I got two months paid maternity leave, so took three months total maternity leave before going back to work. It was lovely to have two parents at home for what was a pretty intense period of childcare (there are twenty months between our two children). But, as I told people at the time, someone has to earn the money, so I went back to work after three months.
I was talking to a prospective new dad the other day, and I mentioned that I had gone back to work after three months, and he asked me (nicely, not in any aggressive way) whether I regretted having gone back after three months.
I answered honestly, that, even though I was the breadwinner, in retrospect, we could have afforded a couple more months, and for me, the second three months are a far more enjoyable and rewarding period than the first three, so it would have been nice to stay home a bit longer.
But inside, I was seething slightly. I wanted to ask him whether he was planning to stay home for more than two weeks with his new baby when he/she is born. I was sure the answer was no. I’ve never met any new father who would even consider a period of unpaid leave more than a week or so so that both parents could stay home with a new baby. And yet I’m conscious that people look at me askance for going back to work after (only) three months.