Only four years ago, this image would have probably brought a smile to my face but wouldn’t have occupied me much beyond that. A female member of parliament cradles her new born as she votes on legislation. A woman at work with her baby attached to her. My pre-baby self would have probably also pffted at how encumbering babies are by nature. Can’t a woman take a break?
Fast forward to this day, and I see a personal hero in that member of parliament.
I see my mom, a teacher, having to go back to work exactly 40 days after she had gone through the gargantuan ordeal of making and delivering a human being. According to our Lebanese legislation, a woman needs no more than six weeks to recover her health and sanity after 9 months of physical and mental spinning and draining. I see her leaving three toddlers in the care of neighbors and aunts and heading off to work at 7 a.m. She was well aware that her kids were most probably not receiving the proper nutrition she would have wanted them to, and that proper stimulation of their physical and mental development was certainly not item number 1 on Tante Im Sa3id’s priorities list. I see her guts wrenched with doubts and fear that her babies might be hurt or abused or afflicted by any other possible scary scenario while entrusted to the care of strangers. She knew all that, and more. But she also knew she had no other choice.
I see her tears as she walks down half-deserted, cold streets in the early morning, secretly hoping to find the school had been flooded over night so that she could go back home to her babies.
Back in the 80’s, schools, institutions, and companies couldn’t care less about providing childcare facilities for working mothers.
And in 2012, things are still exactly the same.
I see me, an instructor at the best university in Lebanon, blessed with a little baby girl whom I have to leave behind in order to go to work. Unlike my mom, I am very lucky to have both her and my mother-in-law to look after my child in my absence. Unlike my mom, I am certain that my daughter is in safe hands while I’m away. But just like my mom, I have to suffer the pains of missing my baby and worrying about her every minute of the hours I spend away from her. My prestigious university, which I’m proud of, sadly still lags behind in terms of providing childcare facilities for its faculty and employees.
Does it make sense for me as a teacher to tuck my baby in a sling and bring her with me to class? Maybe not; that would probably be too distracting for both my students and me. However, it should be mandatory for a commercial institution of any kind to provide working mothers with a safe and secure place for their kids to frolic as the mothers do their job. Imagine how much more productive a person would be if such a load is taken off her shoulders.
Licia Rozulli, I salute you.