Parental Leave: This is When We REALLY Need It

Like many of you, I’ve been working since I was 14. After having our oldest, apart from maternity leave, I’ve always balanced-sometimes off-balanced-my career with motherhood. The early years were a whirlwind of diapers, sleepless nights, and moments of pure joy–and terror.

Throughout my career, my husband and I took pride in the “machine” we built—an ambitious attempt to blend professional careers and active parenting. However, as our oldest son closes out his junior year of high school, we’ve encountered an unexpected challenge; the intense demands of preparing for life after high school.

Right now I need another parental leave. (Photo credit: Eva Papoutsakis Smith)

This stage of parenting is hard and we needed a second parental leave

Whether heading to college, pursuing a trade, or starting a career, the preparation is intense. Sports, extra curricular activities, test prep, school projects, visits, applications, and social dynamics have turned our once self-sufficient children into young adults who need us now more than ever. It’s as if we’re back in those early parenting days, but this time, the stakes are even higher. We got a bit complacent (ok – cocky), thinking we had everything under control, and this new phase hit us HARD.

This led me and my husband to an important conversation—we were in desperate need of a second parental leave. It’s a full-time job—scheduling, driving, talking, and navigating the complexities of their lives. Add in special needs, along with the desire to bond, coach, and guide before they leave, and it becomes an all-consuming task.

We recognize how privileged we are to have this option. As first-generation college graduates, neither of our families had the luxury to take time off.

We also know that many parents are navigating these same waters without the same level of support. That’s why I want to open up this conversation and offer my voice to those who may be struggling.

I feel like someone will end up with the short straw

This is a brutal time that no one discusses – intense prep followed by abrupt change. For me, at least, it’s been emotional, distracting, and left me feeling like someone will end up with the short straw – my career or my family. Maybe both.

I will be on the lookout for fractional or part-time work—to distract from my upcoming empty nest, maintain my mental health, and help manage this transition. Come Q1 2025, I plan to return to full-time work – this is a 2nd paternal leave after all – with renewed ambition and drive. If you know of any companies in need of strategic or operational GTM support that could benefit from my expertise, please reach out.

In the meantime, I’ll be here, filling out forms, while sitting in the parking lot outside of practice.

More Great Reading:

Is It More Beneficial to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom With Toddlers or Teens?

About Eva Papoutsakis Smith

Eva Papoutsakis Smith is a seasoned executive with a rich background in Go-To-Market strategy roles within disruptive technology companies. A graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Business School, Eva has held leadership positions at Ziff Media Group, Integral Ad Science, Pinterest, and The Weather Channel. Balancing a demanding career with motherhood, she now advocates for the recognition of the intense demands parents face during their children's transition from high school to adulthood.
Eva lives in New Jersey with her family and is currently exploring fractional and part-time work opportunities while preparing her special needs son for college.

Read more posts by Eva

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates about parenting teens and young adults straight to your inbox.