Mother Writes Open Letter to Coworkers After They Call Maternity Leave a 'Vacation'


Despite the thousands of pictures of sweet, happy babies posted on social media by new parents, motherhood is hard work.

From trying to get a newborn to sleep to just wanting five minutes of time to yourself, becoming a parent is like having a full-time job.

People who have not had children do not quite understand the time-consuming task of parenting, which is why one woman’s open letter to her coworkers has hit home for many people.

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Carrie O’Maley Voliva wrote a personal essay titled “To My Coworkers Who Called My Maternity Leave a ‘Vacation,’ This Is What I Want You to Know” and it perfectly depicts the struggles of a new mother.

Voliva’s letter was in response to her coworkers who asked after her last maternity leave why she was scheduling another vacation even though she just “had a long vacation.”

She began by thanking her colleagues for covering for her while she was gone.

“I know it hasn’t been easy,” Voliva wrote. “You’ve added my duties to your already too long to-do lists … I see it, and I really, really appreciate it.”

And though, she admitted that she completed “long overdue house projects” and posted cute pictures of her son, there were some not so glamorous things about her maternity leave.

“But what you didn’t see is that I didn’t get any sleep at night for the first month because if I put my baby down, he immediately started crying, and I couldn’t safely sleep with him in my arms,” she wrote.

The new mother also spent hours wandering around Target because she was so sleep-deprived that she didn’t realize how much time had passed until her body informed her that it was time to nurse again.

“You didn’t see the 48 hours I spent with my 6-week-old in the hospital, him hooked up to oxygen and fluids, because he had (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and pneumonia. You didn’t see the week I’d spent prior to his hospitalization, checking his temperature every hour and carefully watching his chest heave up and down to make sure he didn’t stop breathing.”

The new mom also had to reassure her toddler that he was still loved even though his little brother was always in his mother’s arms.

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“And so, while I know you can’t wait for me to come back to work and ease your load, I ask you to be gentle with me, because I also have a much larger weight on my shoulders than I did when I left.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith