Dear Marissa Mayer: Sure wish I’d had maternity leave.

Days before heading back to law school.
July 27, 2012.  The new CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer, said this week that she plans to take a maternity leave of only “a few weeks,” and that she will “work throughout.”  Of course, I’m delighted that Yahoo! has a female CEO, and I wish her the best in juggling a family and a high-powered job — difficult for anyone, male or female.  But let’s get to it:  Is she right to scorn maternity leave?  As a practical matter, she’s in a position to get as much help as anyone could want, making it possible for her to work while others change diapers for her.  I do worry she’ll miss out on some of the joy of those first weeks and months with a new child.  And I worry about her making such a public decision before actually having her baby– because until you hold your first child in your arms, it’s hard to know how you’ll feel.  But mostly, I worry because there is already pressure in many workplaces against taking a maternity leave, and even more against taking paternity leave.  I worry that other parents at Yahoo! and everywhere else who want to take leave — or need to take it — will face an additional barrier.  What they’ll hear (in silent pressure, if not out loud) is this:  Marissa Mayer didn’t take it.  That is the wrong message.  Most parents don’t have Ms. Mayer’s resources to pay for help — and, trust me, trying to cope with an infant without sufficient leave is about like trying to ski through a revolving door.  Many have health issues after birth.  Many put life ahead of work, and want this special time to bond with their child.   Click here for Dotted Line Communication’s plea to Ms. Mayer to take maternity leave.

I sure wish I’d had maternity leave with my first child, born after my first year of law school.  But no, even though we couldn’t afford a nanny, I had to keep up when classes started a few weeks later.  Otherwise, I’d never have gotten the kind of law firm job I needed to repay my student loans and afford to raise a family.  Click here for Unraveling, a short excerpt of my memoir about being pregnant during first year law school and how very hard it was to nurse my way through to graduation.


The Magic of the Nantucket Sky

Nantucket, July 2012

Surfside Beach, Nantucket

Ah, Nantucket!  Every year, when the ferry pulls in and the church steeples and widow’s walks of Nantucket rise out of the haze across the water, I think of the magical Scottish village Brigadoon, which appears from the mist once every hundred years.  Of course, in Nantucket, I don’t need to wear tartan or do traditional dances.  This is fortunate, as I can’t do anything but stand and stare at the wide-open sky above those island beaches.  We never see that sky in Brooklyn.  Not like on Surfside Beach – where, if I squint, the clouds dance like Rockettes, kicking together in chorus lines that turn into a corps de ballet and float through Swan Lake.

I’ve heard a person can magically relocate to Brigadoon by walking across a bridge that appears in the clouds.  And what clouds could possibly be more hospitable than Nantucket’s?  But no matter how long I stare, no bridge ever appears.  Every year, I walk across the ‘Sconset Bridge in Nantucket, hoping that will do the trick instead.  But each time, I find myself back in Brooklyn at the end of vacation week.

The ‘Sconset Bridge

What if Life Didn’t Have To Be Hard?

Rick at Work

Oh, for the easy life.  When describing my father, a Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, my mother used to say, “There is a fine line between a mathematician who is working and a mathematician who is sleeping.”  My husband, Rick, doesn’t do math, but he certainly works in the same way:  easy.  (Here, putting furniture back together after our home renovation.)

This week, we’re heading up to Nantucket – and no work at all.

Wishing everyone an easy week.

Flowers in Chains on Independence Day


Courtesy of Freddie Moore

When I planted these flowers, it didn’t even occur to me that they’d grow behind bars.  But on looking at this photo it hit me:  How many of us imprison ourselves without even realizing it? 

As for me, I used to live behind the bars of the familiar, hesitating to go anywhere new.  My excuse was that I’d get lost.  Finally, a fed-up friend shamed me into learning to navigate.  After all, if my two Grandpa Charlies and my Grandmas Ida and Rose could make it to the USA from the Ukraine, surely I could figure out how to reach remote parts of Brooklyn.  Here’s to them:  Click Here.

 Happy 4th of July!