Shock! Horror! Angst! Uncertainty! New Zealand is waiting to see how their recently appointed female Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, tackles the job at the start of a new year. Then, she announces she’s pregnant – and probably knew about it before she took on the role.
The internet trolls have a field day: angry bosses who’ve been burned by employees abusing paid maternity leave entitlements, and putting their own interests above company productivity; resentful singletons who’ve taken up the slack when others have time off to raise the next generation; parents confusing quality child guidance with a time sheet of attendance to baby needs.
And she’s not even married!
With three months to get used to the “surprise” before the announcement, Jacinda and partner Clarke Gayford had obviously come to terms with the change in their circumstances. They had made no secret of wanting to be parents during all the electioneering, and he was always her support person.
Compare that to the type of parenthood sprung on a woman who, in a fantasy of romantic love, lost the power to understand the principles of human reproduction; or to a pregnancy planned to find meaning in a loveless life.
Jacinda remains confident she can juggle the role of parent and Prime Minister, just as many other women have multi-tasked their way through successful lives, often without a supportive partner. And a husband can abandoned the mother of his children just as easily as man without official documentation.
The pregnancy might have been a surprise at that particular time in Jacinda’s career, but it wasn’t unplanned. She told us she had been making inquiries about fertility assistance. There are so many women who give up on trying to conceive, settle into childlessness, and fall pregnant almost immediately.
The most incredible aspect of this issue is how being thrown into the role of leading a struggling political party to election victory could produce stress levels favourable for pregnancy. From my point of view, it shows a woman happy with a role that was chosen for her. She wasn’t stressing about personal power to be gained from an election; just doing the best job she was confident to do.
But it’s not all about the pregnant Prime Minister. What about her support network and her unborn child? Let’s spare a thought for Clarke putting his career on hold to do his bit for the country. Is his name really Gayford or is he actually Clarke Kent aka Superman?
As for the baby, any child born into a thoughtful, intelligent, loving partnership has the best start in life. And not many children can boast they were conceived while their mother was being elected Prime Minister.
We need more children to bolster our aging population. I don’t begrudge paying for maternity leave. Jacinda’s child will be paying for my retirement.