Thank you thank you thank you for sending me on parental leave

About three months ago, I had the privilege and joy of becoming a parent. I am writing this while enjoying another privilege and joy: A six month fully paid parental leave.

In the months leading up to the arrival of my baby, my head was spinning with the consequences.

What about my (new-ish) job? I love my job!
How will things get done while I’m away?
Can I go on leave?
Will my position still be here if I do?
Maybe I should just take a short leave?

At Spotify, we offer six months fully paid parental leave to all employees (regardless of your gender and of how you become a parent). And both my manager and my colleagues encouraged me to take the full six months.

“Go!” they said, “Go on parental leave and be happy. We will miss you but we got this.”

Today, when I am overcome with baby bliss and lack of uninterrupted sleep I am so intensely grateful for both the policy and the encouragement to use it.

I have been through some intense periods in my life. I have been completely wrapped up in things and worked through the night. But I have never before been this completely engrossed for this long while also not getting all the sleep I need. And it’s absolutely amazing to me that I am allowed to be! I am so thankful for this license to focus my entire sleep-deprived, overjoyed self on our amazing little new family member. Right now I can’t even imagine having to split my focus and energy between the baby and my job. Also, honestly, I’m a little relieved that my colleagues won’t have to put up with whatever the working half of this flashcard-speaking mushy baby parent’s brain would have come up with if I had.

I am so thankful for this license to focus my entire sleep-deprived, overjoyed self on our amazing little new family member.

You already know this: parenting is a tough and sometimes thankless job! The direct feedback is frequently delightful, but often just loudly incomprehensible. Though I knew this before, experiencing it myself has been quite humbling for the focused professional in me. It will definitely improve my proficiency as Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Because now I have a whole new understanding and even more respect for all the working (and non-working!) parents of the world. I will have no problem at all making sure we keep on including employees who are also parents.

But there are other perks! Though it doesn’t feel like it right now, I have read research that says your brain actually grows when you are the caregiver of a small child. So I am confident that when I do come back, it will be with a bunch of new brain cells and some sharper skills in the people, decision-making, and multitasking departments.

Also, while I’m away with the new little human and growing my brain, a great colleague of mine has gotten the possibility to do an excellent job holding the fort while also learning more about diversity and inclusion. I will come back a better employee, to an even better job. It’s a win-win-win-win situation.

Parental leave is a no-brainer. Or.. a mushy parental-brainer.