It was somewhat apt that when the news of Jacinda’s and Clarke’s baby broke, I was at the final session of a Parents’ Centre antenatal course (as a course co-ordinator, not a parent to be).
The excitement of all the parents to be about the news reflects the reality that it is a huge deal for many people that a Prime Minister has given birth.
There is of course nothing unusual at all about a woman giving birth, but for many it is quite monumental to see that being pregnant and giving birth is not incompatible with the highest office in the land. It is motivational and aspirational.
On a personal level, it is great for Jacinda that she has managed to become a mother. You shouldn’t have to choose between your career and being a parent, even though of course the reality often is that you do.
It was no secret that one reason she didn’t aspire to the Labour leadership was she wanted to start a family. As I have found out parenthood does change your life. Looking after a child becomes not just the most important thing in your life, but gives you a new sense of purpose. It is the most challenging and selfish thing you do, but also the most fulfilling. Her and Clarke will be experiencing all that, and I’m sure it will be transformative for them.
Jacinda plans to go back to work in six weeks. If it takes longer than that, no parent will judge her or be surprised. It is worth adding a note of caution that other parents shouldn’t feel pressured to do the same and juggle a time consuming and high pressure job with a six week old baby.
Jacinda is fortunate that she has the support of not just her partner who will be primary caregiver, but also her parents. On top of that she has a staff of 25, VIP Transport, the DPS etc who will all be supporting her in her role as PM and mother, so she can do both. Her baby and partner/support persons will be transported around NZ with her. That is at it should be, but not every mother will have that support. So other parents shouldn’t feel pressured that they are lacking something if they are not back at work so soon.
So anyway once again congratulations to Jacinda and Clarke and welcome to the club.