Ky Dickens

What was your life like when your first child was two weeks old? If you’re like most parents, not only was that new life far and away at the top of your priority list, but it knocked out your whole idea of priorities, flat on the canvas, and replaced it with the fiery, protective loyalty that only a parent can have. Your only priority. Two weeks old.

But the bills don’t stop coming in, and groceries don’t magically appear in the fridge. In addition to the wonderful, exhausting adjustment to an infant joining the family, you have to wrap your mind around going back to your job.

Now here's the stunning part: Nearly a quarter of new American mothers are forced to return to work before their brand new son or daughter reaches that two-week mark. Compared to all other countries on the planet except Papua New Guinea and Oman, the United States is rock-bottom on the list of paid parental leave.

Why? How can we as a voting public condone this?

These are the questions that award-winning director Ky Dickens (Fish Out of Water, Sole Survivor) sought to answer, as a new mother with woefully insufficient paid leave herself after the birth of her first child, putting together her hard-hitting documentary, Zero Weeks.

The film, playing for free at SPACE Gallery (538 Congress St.) on Thursday, January 25 at 6:30 p.m., examines the issue of the stingy or nonexistent leave policies of American employers (Google is one of the few exceptions) and makes a rock-solid case for legislation more favorable to new families.

This matters. Think about the quality of a child’s early infancy. Think about fighting back against the erroneous notion that the time you lose after giving birth is time lost from work, not time lost from the single most important event of your life, when you’re forced back too soon. If anything, go for the doc’s stunning quality (a total of seven laurel-bedecked awards adorn the Zero Weeks website). Listen to the panel discussion that follows the screening this week at SPACE. For the babies to come and the babies we all once were, go, and keep voting.

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