Dear Marissa Mayer,
First of all, congratulations on your recent announcement that you are carrying twins. How exciting to be growing your family and welcoming two little girls in the near future.
Now that the niceties are out of the way, let’s get down to business. I’m a little pissed at you. Actually, no, I’m A LOT pissed at you. And I know I’m not the only one. I’m not a big wig CEO. I don’t work for a high-profile public company. I’m not currently pregnant, but I do work full-time and have a small child. And I certainly do not have access to a generous maternity policy when/if I do become pregnant again, like you do.
On paper you have done a lot right. You are a strong woman in a visible power position and show that there is such thing as legit girl power. You were instrumental in getting a good maternity policy in place at Yahoo, so that employees could at least have some silver lining when it was time to go out on leave.
But, I have to be honest. You REALLY effed up with your latest move.
Let me be clear that I understand you have more on your plate than the average full-time working mom. I commend what you do and can’t really pass judgement on how YOU choose to spend the time with your babies when they are born. But what I am NOT ok with, is you making the rest of us working moms look like assholes who can’t get it together to get back to work 5 minutes after we squeeze a baby out of our vaginas.
The message you are sending is kind of passive aggressive. It’s like you’re saying, “No, no Sally in accounting…you take all the time you need. You be with your baby. I’m just gonna pop mine out, put on some lip gloss and head into the office…like a boss. But you?? No, no…you don’t have to.” It’s a lot of pressure.
I don’t want to get on the whole soapbox of women vs. men in the workplace. But you have just set working women back again. By being an overachiever during one of the most exhausting and emotional times of a woman’s life.
I took a full three months off when I had my first baby. I did not have full-time help. Her father was working crazy hours in a residency program. I was on maybe 3 hours of sleep a night, waking up every two to breastfeed, my body was a mess, my nipples were impossibly sore. I was frequently peed, puked and pooped on. I couldn’t get laundry done fast enough sometimes to have clean onesies for her when I needed them. When I couldn’t get her to stop crying, I often cried too. I had to pull her bouncy seat in the bathroom so I could shower. And when it was time to go back to work, I had to dig through clothes to find something without spit up or breast milk on it. I cried that whole first week – partially out of exhaustion and partially out of guilt from leaving my baby girl – my world. I knew in my heart I was setting a good example for her. Showing her that mommies went to work too and could have strong careers and juggle it all. But you know what the truth is?
Juggling is fucking hard.
So when you act all easy breezy and blow off the maternity leave meant for the “rest of us” it does in fact send a message whether you want to believe it or not. It belittles the ideal that women CAN and SHOULD take some time off to bond with their babies. They grow up so fast and these moments are precious and you can’t get them back.
Let’s be real – there were other options here. You could work from home a little, no? As smart and instrumental as you are, I highly doubt Yahoo would go out of business if you took a REAL maternity leave. I think they’d be just fine.
Being a woman in the workforce is no picnic and we NEED people like you to continue to go to bat for us because YOU have more influence than someone like me…and the rest of us normal folk. If people saw someone like you say – “You know what Yahoo? It’s been real, but I’m gonna take a few months off (yes I will be checking email and available via phone if anyone needs me) because my kids are my priority. Peace out.” – it would send a message than benefits working women everywhere. Especially those of us who would KILL for a maternity policy like yours. and THAT to me is the picture of a powerful female CEO. One who can be vulnerable, realistic and kind of like other working moms.
You may not exactly be one of US, but maybe you should consider what it’s like for the real women in “other” trenches before you make a statement like this.