Paid family leave is a wonderful thing. Also, returning from maternity leave sucks, as Meghan McCain has recently discovered. On Monday night’s Watch What Happens Live, she spoke to Bravo’s Andy Cohen about her first week back on the job after giving birth to baby Liberty.
“It’s been such a rough reentry back into The View,” McCain said. “I had a really hard birth … I had a really hard time getting back to work. I thought I’d be back by the election. So that process of getting back was a lot, and this past week back, with just the show the way it is and obviously everything going on in the country and the horrible, horrific attack on our Capitol — it’s just been a lot.”
As both the sole conservative woman on The View as well as an outspoken opponent of Trump Republicans, McCain has been taking hits from multiple sides. Her first day back was marked by criticism of her sudden revelation that this country needs a better paid parental leave policy. Then, after she interrupted sparring partner Joy Behar’s take on the divisions in the Republican Party, Behar said in an aside, “I did not miss you. Zero.”
“I missed everyone,” McCain told Cohen. “Even if some people didn’t miss me, I missed the show; we’re a family. All these women were at my dad’s funeral. We’ve been through a lot of shit together, and I missed being on the show.”
Though we didn’t have our coworkers say so on national television, many of us have felt the same thing upon returning to work after maternity leave. Even if we were, in reality, missed at work, we can easily feel like we weren’t missed enough. Who could miss us in the office as much as we imagine our babies missing us?
Actually, the babies are usually fine, and what’s happening is that we miss them more than anything in those first days back, no matter how much we love our jobs. That transition is tough, and it takes a physical and mental toll on moms. (And sure, dads feel this too, but they’re not quite as punished by their bodies or by societal norms for making the choice to leave their kids in someone else’s care.)
“A lot of times as mothers, we set these expectations [for ourselves] that are so high and really rigid, because that’s who we are as women — we’re trying to fill all these different buckets and plates,” Dr. Jessica Shepherd said at last year’s BlogHer Parenting event. “And now there’s a new human that we’re trying to provide for, and be that happy mom. … Inside we’re not feeling that happy or beautiful.”
It’s important for moms to realize that they’re not alone in feeling this way. It really helps to reach out to others who have been there before.
Our sympathy goes out to McCain and any other new moms whose first week back involved witnessing a major threat to democracy. We haven’t exactly been there. But from the other side of that transition back to work, we’ll tell you that it does get easier in many ways. Or, at least, you get used to it being hard.
These gorgeous photos show moms who love their postpartum bodies.