So… I don’t know if you’ve heard of a woman called Meghann Foye or her book Meternity, but let me give you the Coles notes version of the recent drama. It’s a novel about a woman who decides to fake a pregnancy so that she can take a maternity leave to get a little “me time” to figure out her life. It apparently stemmed from the author’s envy of women that were getting this paid time off to figure out their lives.
Here’s the thing…
Sure, my maternity leave is being funded by the government (and my years of contributions to said fund), but this is hardly a period in my life where I’m kicking back and living the good life. It’s not exactly my opportunity to journal and get all zen and figure out what I want from life.
What I want from life, in the here and now, is to get some mother trucking sleep. To sleep for a WHOLE night without waking to the sound of a baby crying, or to wake because I dreamt that he was crying, or to wake because of the crazy wicked vivid dreams I’ve been having since giving birth. Sleep. That’s what I want.
Maternity leave for most mothers is filled with growth spurts, colic, fussiness, teething, spit, vomit, poop, pee (any other bodily functions I can name?), torturous sleep deprivation, a constantly messy house, a never-ending laundry pile, errand after errand, vaccinations and doctors appointments that seem to run into one another, and somehow trying to figure out how to have dinner made. What? We can’t order take out EVERY night?
Now, I’m going to give the author a bit of credit here. I understand that there’s been a ton of backlash over her talk of “Meternity”, and it seems from articles I’ve read that she’s saying it’s all been a media exaggeration. I watched her interview on The View and know that the original article by the New York Post was spun a little on the click-bait-y side, and the author claims it did not accurately represent her views. Foye went on in the interview to explain that the term “Meternity” was more about it being her colloquialism for the time she ended up taking off to figure out her life, as opposed to believing that maternity leaves are vacation time for mothers.
I get it. It’s a cute term, Meternity, and at the end of the day she wrote a piece of fiction.
The Real Issue
Here’s the crux of my issue. Let’s not pit single women vs. women who have children. Women are pitted against each other all the flipping time for any reason under the sun. Whether it’s about women vs. women in the workplace, the dating scene, how we look, how we act, how we friggin comb our hair… come on.
And a maternity leave is not a question of fairness. Those who choose to and are able to have children require that time to bond with their child. And is it a free ride? Well… we’re raising the future taxpayers who will be caring for us as we reach retirement, so I’d say it’s a prepayment.
ALL of us at some stage want me-time. We want time to figure our lives out, our careers, or what direction we want to go in. That’s not what maternity leave is meant for. Not in the least. In terms of the author’s desire, and that of her character, for that time to yourself, I completely agree that it’s something we should all make use of. It can be life-altering.
Do you know what I suggest?
Take a leave of absence. Whether you have children or not, take the time for yourself. Sure, it’s not government funded the way my Canadian maternity leave is, but it sure as hell is a good way to figure out what you want out of life. I did it and it has helped me to crystallize what I want out of my career, my relationship and my role as a mother.
That’s what a leave of absence can do for you.
Have I read the book? No. Do I plan to read the book? Nope. Perhaps it’s cause I’ve barely managed to read a book since this little nugget joined the world. Cause, you know, I’m so loaded with free time.
Looks like I’m in need of another leave of absence. Guess I’d better start saving those pennies.