Growing up, I was absolutely positive about two things: first, that Mark McGwire was the greatest baseball player in the world; second, that someday I wanted to be a mom. Although the first conviction diminished over time, the second never did. In a wonderfully warm and squishy way, my son Felix was born at the beginning of October. Although most new parents delicately describe the advent of children as “starting a new chapter,” for my husband, Jackson, and me, it was more the start of a whole new book—written upside down and in a foreign language. This past year has been one of tumultuous change in our lives, and Felix was the icing on the cake.
Shortly after starting my role at Aletheia, Jackson accepted a job that would move us to Louisiana, a state we had never visited. A month or so later, we discovered I was pregnant. These were discussions I would have preferred not to have as a new employee. Chris Schembri (CEO of Aletheia) was wonderfully understanding and, upon hearing I was pregnant, said the very last thing I was expecting to hear: “This is great timing!”
He explained that they were finalizing the company’s new maternity policy. “How does six months sound?” he asked. I told him that sounded great, but I’ve come to realize that “great” was the understatement of my life.
Although my leave certainly has been great, it also turned out to be the answer I was looking for without realizing it. The six-month time frame gave me the freedom and the flexibility to be a mom, unapologetically, and to fully commit myself to this new endeavor and my new family without sacrificing my career. It allowed me to be human, to recognize and give myself and my child the time and space we really needed to bloom and to bond, without fear or worry about the future of my career. In an American culture that has normalized very short parental leave, this experience was priceless.
Jackson and I both grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and we were able to have Felix there, surrounded by friends and family. After two months, we returned to our new home in Louisiana and got into the groove of things. Felix and I enjoyed taking walks or runs together and we spent a lot of time outdoors. I also enjoyed weekly piano lessons, something I’ve wanted to learn since I was young.
This is truly what it means to support work-life balance: as one thing takes priority in your life, the other aspects shift so as not to tip the scales. This company understands that. Under Chris’s leadership, employees are unique individuals with unique life experiences that aren’t always simple or straightforward. Employees who are happy and well cared for are employees who will show up, do excellent work, and drive forward motion for the company. I am so glad to be working for a company that preserves both the dignity of work and the beauty of the human experience.