(I'm already afraid of the "you're a bad mom" comments that will keep me awake at night)
"We have experienced that many 'ethnic' women suffer under the social control in Denmark"
This morning, as I heard one of the local Venstre party candidates say this on tv, I suddenly realized how "ethnic" I was.
Before we moved to Denmark, one of the few things I knew about Scandinavia was that there was a really long, paid maternity leave. And how could a woman who wants to have kids not be excited by this prospect? Of course, that was when I was living in the US. There were a lot of things I didn't realize then.
When a woman goes on maternity leave here, she is paid full-time salary because, well, her life beyond that of taking care of her baby, is supposed to stop. In some ways, maybe this is progressive. I mean, a woman is given the right to spend all her time with her baby and not worry about money or a job. And this contributes to the 98% rate of breast feeding in Denmark. Very, very impressive statistics compared to a country like the US, where in some states, only 50% of babies even get to try breast milk (think Mississippi and West Virginia), with the national average of babies ever breastfed being 70%. And only 35% of babies in the whole country are exclusively breast fed for 3 months, (CDC) whereas in Denmark 60% are.
It is cultural and it is built into their social system. And the system, looking at the statistics, works.
What about employment? Well, if you get a full 9 months paid maternity leave after having a baby, there isn't that big incentive to stop working. In Denmark 70% of women are employed and in the US it's just 59% (Danmarks Statistik and US Dept of Labor). This is however also partly attributed to the fact that families in Denmark simply can't afford to live comfortably on one salary.
So Denmark looks darn good in statistics. And they are the "happiest" country in the world year after year. And granted, it's a great place to live, as long as you agree with what everyone else thinks.
But here's my issue: if a "new baked mother", attempts to stray from her job as a full time mom, it is extremely difficult, expensive and socially unacceptable.
Basically, there is no child care available until a baby is nine months. Not even if you want to go back to work. Not even at the gym if you want to exercise for an hour. What about a babysitter, you ask? Well, then you would have to pay them by the hour and their legal hourly wage would actually be just slightly less than what I make as a physician. No kidding. So one can hardly rationalize the decision to start working again.
Right now, my mom is here, so I have been able to work and exercise. But both people at work and at the gym are wondering if I suffer from a psychiatric illness because I'm not spending 100% of my time with my baby.
When I look back on the first 9 months of The Lorax's life, I realize how extremely good I had it. I worked 12-18 hours a week, he was in day care 2 hours a day while I ran/swam/yoga'ed whatever. And I was so happy. More importantly, he was so happy. It was a magical time in our life. When I read my blog entries from that time, I see how much we both were glowing.
I have absolutely no less love for Mattias,
and yet, I feel I'm drowning in my new role as an exclusive mom while also trying to fit in the things I normally enjoy, including work, and trying to explain to the entire Danish society that "no, I'm not crazy and I DO love my kids"
Heavy topic for a Friday, I guess.
On to music...
I was wrong about the CSS song. As Steve Q said, it was too girly --- even for me! (I broke my cardinal rule: never recommend a running song before you run to it) THIS one ended up being good:
Running song of the day: Itchin' on a photograph by Grouplove.
(I have the same sort of child-like love for Grouplove that I have for The Jonas Brothers. Grouplove probably wouldn't be happy to know that)