Predictably, there has been a lot of talk about Prime Minister Jacinda Adern and her return to work, slightly short of six weeks after the birth of her daughter, Neve.

As she has said repeatedly herself, the reason she is able to do this is because she has a far-from-typical income and employment situation, a partner who is able to step up into a fulltime care role and not one, but two, grandmothers also able to share the load.

That speaks volumes of how big a job it is.

What I love about Jacinda is how she plays by her own rules.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford pose for a photo with their baby, Neve. Photo / Getty
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford pose for a photo with their baby, Neve. Photo / Getty

But the judgment of her for returning to work and for not being home with her baby needs to stop.

Sadly, what we have seen, especially over the past week or so, is symptomatic of the double standards that still exist around the expectations of men and women - something many parents in the "real world" experience on a daily basis.

A few months back, we were in the hospital emergency department with our 3-year-old son laying across my husband's lap awaiting treatment for a broken arm, when a woman said to me: "What an attentive father."

She wouldn't have noticed if our boy was lying on me. Not many people notice when a mum is being "attentive" - even fewer would offer her a compliment or tell her partner so.
They notice when she's on her phone, though.

Dads, who don't seem to have much expected of them anyway, get praise for being dads while women are constantly being judged for not being enough - as mothers and as employees ("she's away a lot, her kids are always sick").

All of this is emotional blackmail, directed at women - disgustingly in my experience - most often by other women.

A friend of mine mentioned a time she was going away for a few nights and people brought her husband meals. No one takes her meals when he goes away.

How many All Blacks and other sportspeople, men in the navy or army or other jobs, have missed the births of their children or many months or years of their lives because of their jobs?


Recently there was a headline - boxer Joseph Parker met his second child for the first time, some weeks after her birth. (No judgment, Joseph)!

We need to think about why men are able to do this, potentially putting themselves in danger of head injuries and who knows what else that could affect their families completely free of judgment when we have women battling criticism every single day just for doing their jobs.

Where are the headlines and opinion pieces screaming that these men chose their jobs over their children? That they mustn't be good fathers or husbands? That they won't be as valuable as employees anymore?

That's right - there aren't any. And nor should there be. But it's just not the same for women.

You're in a job you get one brief shot at, your entire life's goal? Why should anyone have to give that up? So why – WHY? – does there only seem to be judgment on the women?

We are in an age now of mothers who grew up getting told that girls could do anything.

You told us we could go to university, we could get important jobs, we could have families, we could do it all.

And now you're getting mad at us for doing it.