I had a pretty neat opportunity today:
Yes, that’s me. All the way to the left, holding the purple folder with sweaty hands.
In Marshall’s words:
“Today, Sarah got up early, put on her fancy clothes, and drove to Lincoln in not-so-great weather to serve as one of a handful of people asked to speak at a press conference announcing the introduction of a bill that would establish a program guaranteeing paid maternity leave for mothers of new children in the state of Nebraska. In her remarks, she relied on personal experience and conviction to speak passionately on behalf of working women and mothers in our state. And she did so despite the fact that public speaking (let alone speaking in front of media and government officials) is really, really not her thing.
Take note, y’all: Connect yourselves to people who not only have passion, but a commitment to see that passion made manifest in their world. These people will do nothing but impact your life in positive and profound ways.”
Him saying all of that meant more than I can say.
Here is a statement about this morning from Senator Crawford:
Here is the audio clip in case you really wanted to hear what I (and others) had to share:
Here is what I shared:
I currently reside in Omaha, Nebraska. I am a wife, a mother of two children, a full-time working woman and starting Monday, a graduate student. I am very proud of all of these identities, and I believe each are important contributions to my family and the community that I am a part of.
Seven months ago when our son, Ellis, was born, our family grew. How excited we were to welcome a sweet but not little 9 lbs 2 oz baby into the world. While we experienced joy, I remember feeling anxious and stressed.
I have been with my current employer since April 2013. At that time, my husband and I did not have plans to have any more kids. I accrued sick time and vacation time in my role, and used them as necessary. If I was too sick to work, I stayed home. When my daughter was too sick to go to school, I would use the time to care for her. When I found out I was pregnant and that no paid family leave was available to me, I starting saving as much sick and vacation time as I could.
Nine months was not long enough to accrue 12 weeks worth of sick and vacation time. Thus, I took only six weeks of leave following the birth of Ellis – some of which I even had to take unpaid. Then, I worked two weeks part time from home, two more weeks part time in the office after that – any hours not worked remained unpaid – and was back to work full time just 10 weeks after giving birth. While I desired to take the full 12 weeks of FMLA, I could not afford to do so as most of it would have been unpaid. While insurance covered a great deal of our prenatal and birthing expenses, and we experienced no complications, having Ellis was a financial strain. My family simply needed my full-time income.
I felt many emotions going back to work full time so soon. As other parents may know from experience, the birth of a child drastically changes day-to-day life. The first few months are a period of adjustment and trying to identify a new normal. On top of that period of adjustment, I had to figure out pumping at work and bottle feeding before I ever fully felt comfortable with breastfeeding. I love my job, and I wanted to be fully present and effective at work, yet I was exhausted both physically and mentally. Leave had wiped out my vacation and sick time. I was afraid of getting sick or my loved ones getting sick, and not having paid time available. Paid family leave would have allowed me to retain my vacation and sick time while also alleviating financial stress. It also would have provided me and my family precious and focused time on being a mother of a newborn and a new mother of two, in addition to a fully present employee upon returning to work.
I’m smart, capable, organized, efficient, dedicated, honest, and loyal. I believe education is invaluable. All of these qualities better my ability to love my husband, care for my children and be an example for them, and to serve college students in my career. When my needs are met as a mother, I can more fully dedicate myself to my work and improve the lives of those around me. As a wife, as a mother, as a full time working woman in Nebraska, and as an advocate for full time working parents in Nebraska, I support paid family leave.
Thank you for letting me share a little bit of my story.
While it is true I hate public speaking, I’m thankful I had the opportunity to speak today. I’m thankful to my colleagues at UNO that thought I should do this. Thankful to my partner in life and a couple other close friends for helping me write my story out and make edits as needed. Thankful to have a supportive supervisor and director that allowed me to be out of the office this morning. Thankful for our amazing CRV that helped me drive safely in the snow. And honestly, just thankful to God for this life I get to live. I’m praying these two bills pass as it is a step in the right direction for the state of Nebraska.