Thursday, September 3, 2015

What I Learned From Marissa Mayer's Pregnancy Announcement [MOMLIFE]

Making its way around the media circuit is the announcement that Marissa Mayer, CEO of corporate giant Yahoo, is pregnant. Not only that but she plans to continue working throughout her pregnancy and will 'not [avail] herself of Yahoo’s 16 weeks of paid maternity leave'.

I found this news out first by Bloomberg Businessweek's article, Marissa Mayer Rewrites Rules for CEO Parenting, Again, and something about it rubbed me the wrong way.

Most likely, it's due to the article's suggestive interpretations.
'[Her] very public determination to not let motherhood get in the way of running a company could be encouraging to would-be corporate executives.

“She’s setting a new path for younger, smart women coming up behind her,” said Carol Hochman, a former CEO of Danskin and chairman of Women in America. Of course Mayer has the means “to figure out how to make this work.” Her compensation was $59.1 million last year.

Still, others may find inspiration in her treating parenthood as most male executives do.

And there's the rub. As a mother, I'm not particularly encouraged nor inspired by her determination or decisions. Instead, at least initially, at first read, I was left feeling inadequate.

To start, Marissa isn't just expecting a baby later this year, she's expecting two— twins— which increases both her pregnancy risks and symptoms that comes with having multiples. Her decision or determination to work throughout her pregnancy is a personal one and NOT one that every mother-to-be can and should make.

Every woman experiences pregnancy different and, to no fault of her own, some have harder times than others. I took a medical leave in my current pregnancy because of extreme morning sickness and I refuse to feel bad about it. It wasn't Marissa's path, it was mine. And it was the best decision for me, my pregnancy, and my family.

Moreover, Marissa is 40 years old. In her announcement, she quells any wonder if she underwent fertility treatment to become pregnant, contributing to her super-exec/supermom superhero image and perpetuating the all-too-common misconception that getting pregnant at that age is perhaps simple and normal, even when holding a high-power/high-paying/high-stress job and child already in tow.

Maybe it was easy for her to get pregnant at 40 and maybe her pregnancy with twins at 40 is a breeze, even with all her responsibilities. If that's really the case, then good for her. She's lucky. Yes, lucky. Because pregnancy, for the most part, really is mostly about luck. But one individual's luck should NOT be defining the path for others, let alone future generations.

What I particularly appreciated about Mark Zuckerberg's announcement about his wife expecting was that it was honest and helped shed light on the difficulties of becoming pregnant, despite how much they wanted it or even how much money (or access to resources) they have. It's not to say every pregnancy announcement by corporate leaders should necessarily be educational, per se, but it's a gift to be shared not a journey to be followed.

Lastly, skipping maternity leave isn't an act of heroism nor is it admirable nor should Marissa's personal decision perpetuate our country's backward practice that doesn't entitle new mothers the opportunity to spend enough time with their newborn without the loss of income.

The majority of new moms didn't make over $59 million in the previous year. They don't have the luxury to build a private nursery right next to their office either, or hire however much help $59 million can buy.

As we look at leaders to learn from, we should be cognizant of what lives/livelihoods we are comparing and the standards/norms/expectations we should and maybe should NOT be setting based upon them.

Call me crazy but I'm unemployed from a layoff, single, and expecting my second child, and yet STILL I consider myself as having it all. Financial unworry, I could always use a little more of but at least I'm living the dream. MY dream. Not Marissa's or anyone else's. xo

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