I was in the military when I went on maternity leave, and everything was abysmal.
Mostly because my son took a lot of work to take care of. He came bursting into the world at 32 weeks of pregnancy, which happened to be the day I diagnosed with pre-ecamplsia, and subsequently put on bed rest.
The moment my son came out of my body, he would only stop crying for his nurses, my mother, his father, or if he was sleeping. He absolutely refused to stop crying for me – which was a little bit of a jerk move if you ask me. My maternity leave was spent changing his preemie diapers (that basically had atomic bombs inside of them), and pulling out my boob to feed him (which he refused every time he saw it). What I just described was the first 18-months of my son’s life, and it wasn’t easy in the least bit.
So when I read Meghann Foye’s New York Post OP/ED about wanting maternity leave, even though she didn’t have any kids, I immediately wanted to ask her, “What did the five fingers say to the face?”
She said in her piece,
…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…
It seemed that parenthood was the only path that provided a modicum of flexibility. There’s something about saying “I need to go pick up my child” as a reason to leave the office on time that has far more gravitas than, say, “My best friend just got ghosted by her OkCupid date and needs a margarita” — but both sides are valid.
And as I watched my friends take their real maternity leaves, I saw that spending three months detached from their desks made them much more sure of themselves. One friend made the decision to leave her corporate career to create her own business; another decided to switch industries. From the outside, it seemed like those few weeks of them shifting their focus to something other than their jobs gave them a whole new lens through which to see their lives.
This is as far as I could get while reading the article before I slid off of my couch and onto the floor. This misconstrued soul was driving me to drinking.
Mostly because she had the wrong idea about maternity leave. As much as I love my son, he took a lot of work his first three years of life. I wasn’t sitting in a chair thinking, “How can I get the most out of this sabbatical?” Nope. I was worried that he would stop breathing, and the police would come arresting me because of it! She doesn’t even realize the large numbers of “reports” of death cribs and killer baby seats that only happens to come out while you’re pregnant.
Meghann also doesn’t know how scared you are for your baby’s life when the doctor tells you about the dangers of the Zika Virus, meningitis, or germs in general. I spent 90 percent of my maternity leave telling people not to touch my kid (and he was a cutie pie when he was first born, so it was really hard to resist kissing him). That said, I’m dying to know why she thinks that maternity leave equals “me time.” I haven’t had “me time” since my kid was born, and he’s 7-years-old. Where in the hell can I get this “meternity leave,” and how can I inform my employers that this is actually a “thing.”
The fact that Meghann wrote, marketed, and sold a book about a “vacation” that I’ve never had since my son was born is beyond astounding. If it weren’t for the fact that all women had this problem, I’d be inclined to call her piece the most white privileged article on the Internet, because only a white lady would be able to get away with “meternity leave.” But the truth is that all women get crapped on when it comes to taking family leave, so I won’t go there.
Meghann, it sounds to me like you need a new job, and I know how that feels, so I won’t judge you on that. But I will give you the side eye for suggesting that moms spend their lives chilling for their kids while they’re on maternity leave, and after they get back to work. I don’t know about anyone else, but my kid is a full time job. If it weren’t for the fact someone is to blame for actually raising a person like Ted Cruz, I would gladly get a nanny to take care of my child while I went to work. But I can’t, because if my son ends up like Ted Cruz, I would bury him.
I’m just letting you know that “me time” while you’re a mom will never, ever be a thing.