Reflections on Parental Leave
09 Dec 2013
A guest post by Ammar Khan
Paid parental leave for men – it’s a concept that blows some people away. Daddy gets to stay home with the baby for months while the job waits for him to return. It is a blessed concept that we are lucky to have here in Canada: After an initial 17 week Maternity leave, 35 weeks of paid parental benefits are available between both parents as long as they paid into EI during their employment.
I know that, if I lived in most other countries, including the US, I wouldn’t have parental leave. I would look back on my life and regret not getting more baby time. Thankfully though, I will view my life with two daughters under the age of 2 as having been a great balance of work and family. I regularly work long hours, so my commitment to my family was that I would take parental leave with each child. As I tell everyone who asks me about why I took parental leave, “No one really looks back on their life wishing that they had spent more time working, but a lot of people do wish that they had spent more time with their family”.
I took 2.5 months off with oldest daughter Amina in 2012, and then 5 months with my second daughter Maarya this year. As I write this, I am just a week away from returning back to work at the Ford Motor Company.
Amina and Maarya, are blooming wonderfully and are developing the most awesome personalities. Now that Amina is just over 2 years old and Maarya is one, they have some really funny and quirky interactions that brighten each day from morning to night.
I have been lucky enough to have watched them both blossom. Being home every single day to support Farzana, my wonderful wife, during my parental leave has been a dream. I have been there through many milestones for both girls and I’m sure they will be surprised that I am not around all day when I go back to work next week.
My summer was spent blowing bubbles, chasing butterflies, taking them for walks, and comforting them throughout the day and night. Parental leave allows dads to have a share in witnessing many firsts: I have been there for first smiles, funny faces, rolls, crawls, steps, creeps, coos, stories, fights and cuddles. The girls are growing up so fast. I wish that I could just freeze their ages.
Fourteen months is not a large gap between babies. It almost feels like having twins, as my wife and I often have to tag team to care for the girls. When one needs a change the other needs food, and they both need these things at the same time. I can’t imagine doing this alone. I am beside myself with pleasure that I get to do this with my wife. I’m sure she is too. My wife is a substitute / supply teacher so we had the benefit of spending almost all of the 5 months together with the kids.
I will always cherish the time I took off for parental leave. We were side by side, caring for our daughters, and are stronger together through the experience.
You can read more of my posts at my Toronto Blog. Thanks for reading!