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Quite a commotion has been caused by a book called “Meternity” and an interview with its author, Meghann Foye regarding her idea that she and other childless women (and some men) should be entitled to a leave of absence from their jobs just as women are granted maternity leave.
Hopefully your jaw has dropped already at the absurdity of this statement. Foye says “I want all the perks of maternity leave – without having any kids.” Today is my 2nd day back at work after taking a 6 week maternity leave following the birth of my daughter who is my 2nd child. Let me be the first to tell you that the “perks” are being able to bond with your family and not having to worry about conference calls and emails, but the buck stops there. Foye claims that a parent leaving work to pick up their child should entitle her leaving work to go out for margaritas with a girlfriend. Not sure how those can even be comparisons, especially since one is a responsibility for a human life.
I took 2 weeks vacation when my son was born last year. People thought I was crazy. I chalked it up to the fact that I worked from home (and thankfully still do) but I also had the pressures of a corporate job with a boss who still happened to call me while I was on leave. This time I decided to take 6 weeks off and luckily in the state of California you do still get some sort of salary via short term disability, unlike other states. I still have a corporate job but with a different company and a kickass boss.
I’d like to give Miss Foye a glimpse into what these past 6 weeks have looked like. I have a one year old who is now adjusting to having a baby sibling who cries and wakes him during nap time and at night. God gave me two arms and now I carry a child in each one, up and down flights of stairs throughout the day…that’s lifting 30 lbs at once in case Miss Foye was hoping that I would be able to hit the gym during this easy off time. My husband and I had to figure out how to juggle two full-time jobs and two infants and what kind of childcare that would involve and then figuring out the logistics of it all.
I had my second c-section which means that not only did I come home to a toddler needing attention as well as a newborn, but I had major surgery that I needed to heal from while still taking care of my little humans. this also means doctors apps for myself and the baby while I can’t drive due to the surgery. Luckily I’m a planner and had made 2 weeks worth of dinners for our family to throw in the crockpot each night otherwise grocery store trips and cooking would have been additional worries. Foye may want to know about happy hours while on maternity leave since she feels she is so deserving of them. Let me tell you…when you are waking up every 2-3 hours for more than an hour at a time, happy hour is the farthest thing from your mind. A glass of wine sounds good, but anything more and you quickly remember you will have to feed your baby throughout the night and sleeping in is just not an option.
You and your new human are getting to know each other as well as the world, so time off from work is a necessity and shouldn’t be considered a perk. Granted, I now have the most incredible boss in the world and he was more than happy to ensure I had as much time off as I needed and I do consider that a perk…having a boss who cares!
One point Foye makes is that her friends who take maternity leave come back with a stronger sense of self and some have opened up their own businesses, etc. She feels this is because they’ve had so much time off to reflect on themselves. I read one commentary that suggested those women did that because they were probably forced out of the corporate world, but I have to disagree. When you become a mom, you become some kind of badass. You feel like you have superpowers because you just carried and birthed a real person and you suddenly know how fierce love can be. You will do anything for this person and that also means you stop tolerating nonsense from others. My thought is these women decided to figure out what was best for them and their families and to achieve their goals with their newfound superpowers. So although this does come about while on maternity leave, it’s due to becoming a mom, not due to a 6 week “vacation of reflection.”
I’m all for people finding themselves and taking time to do that, but don’t compare it to maternity leave and don’t feel you’re entitled to time off to do so. Meghann, as much as I would love to read your book for myself, the quotes you’ve given in your interview tell me not to waste my money or time.