Alright, I’m mad. I hate to pile on, but I’m mad as hell. I just read Meghann Foye’s article in the New York Post about her “meternity” leave. Apparently she felt envious of her co-workers who got all that awesome maternity leave when they had babies. Ms. Foye said she wanted that relaxing (HA), rejuvenating (HAHAHAHAHA) maternity leave just like they all had.
Except without the baby.
And I quote:
“You know, I need a maternity leave!” I told one of my pregnant friends. She laughed, and we spent the afternoon plotting my escape from my 10-hour days, fake baby bump and all.
Of course, that didn’t happen. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to believe in the value of a “meternity” leave — which is, to me, a sabbatical-like break that allows women and, to a lesser degree, men to shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs.
For women who follow a “traditional” path, this pause often naturally comes in your late 20s or early 30s, when a wedding, pregnancy and babies means that your personal life takes center stage. But for those who end up on the “other” path, that socially mandated time and space for self-reflection may never come.”
Ummmmm, WHAT???????? Is this woman insane?????????? Maternity leave is anything but calm and self–reflective. Maternity leave is a sleep-deprived, emotionally fraught, exhausting, hooch-hurting time for most women.
She continued to say that “a ‘meternity’ done right should be challenging. It should be about digging into your whole life and emerging from it more confident in who you are.” Um. Hate to burst your bubble, Ms. Foye, but a real maternity leave isn’t about digging into your whole life. It’s about digging into endless poopy diapers. And you “emerge” as a yogurt-covered, yoga-pants-wearing frazzled version of your former self. At least I did.
When I was on maternity leave, I barely slept. I was an emotional wreck because my post-partum hormones were going bonkers. My nipples were raw and bloody and the soundtrack of my life was a screaming baby. My lady parts were traumatized and trying to heal from the MOST INSANE THING THAT HAD EVER HAPPENED TO ME. I could barely string together a coherent thought and I certainly wasn’t reflecting on my life and taking time for ME. I mean, REFLECT ON MY LIFE? I could barely remember my name in the weeks after my baby was born.
Maternity leave was one of the craziest times of my life. Because I had just created life. And that is hard and messy and exhausting and everything BUT rejuvenating. It’s a time of giving. Giving every shred of yourself to another human being. A screaming, crying, pooping, starving, helpless human being who needs you.
I understand Ms. Foye’s desire to take time to reflect on her life. We all deserve time to think about our lives. But guess what, Ms. Foye? The minute you have a kid you don’t have a second for yourself for YEARS. She stated in her article that “parenthood was the only path that provided a modicum of flexibility.” FLEXIBILITY????? Moms of babies and young kids are lucky if we get a shower. We’re lucky if we get a few seconds to pee before someone starts screaming. We’re lucky if we get to eat a meal sitting down or drink a cup of hot coffee.
So instead of a meternity leave, why doesn’t Ms. Foye take a sabbatical? Or a vacation? A kid-free vacation where she can reflect on her life, read a good book that doesn’t have pictures in it and relax in the sun ALL BY HERSELF.