In Defense of "MEternity" Leave

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In case you live under a rock, have no access to any slice of the Internet other than Bitchy but Bubbly, or tend to scroll past any Facebook post with a ton of angry face emojis, a childless young woman, Meghann Foye, wrote a book and gave an interview which advocated for "MEternity" leave for women who don't have children because they need "time and space for self-reflection." Interesting.

I can mostly wrap up my response to the growing crowds carrying pitchforks with four words - "She's selling a NOVEL." A novel is fiction, which means her work is not based on actual events, which means she needed a really good marketing campaign to promote the book. Homegirl has got that going on. Mamas are out for blood over the comparison of maternity leave and "meternity" leave. I get why many of them are upset over the word choice. They're two completely different animals. Maternity leave is about caring for your baby. "Meternity" leave is about caring for yourself. But I don't get why the thought of a woman taking time off from her job to care for herself is so outrageous and selfish.

If you don't have to pay for this woman's search to find herself, then why do you care? Is it because she uses a play on words to draw attention to her novel of the same name? Her calling time off a "meternity" leave is just plain clever. It's a made up word. It doesn't harm or denigrate the millions of women who take maternity leave, often unpaid, which is a complete travesty in a country like the United States. Let us also not forget the millions of women who take ZERO maternity leave because they can't afford it. That's the real discussion we should be having, Mama. Another time, another post. But no. We're rounding up the posse because a woman selling a book used a play on words to sell books. Oye. I digress.

After reading some of the pitchfork commentaries, it seems like the opposition can be summed up in the old schoolyard taunt, "I'm better than you," or at least my leave is. And that's just not cool. Everyone chooses different paths in life. Women who choose to be mothers and create a life and a literal home base for tag are incredible. Seriously. I couldn't do what you do. But I also don't want to. I was an eight-year-old who always said, "I'm never getting married." I was going to be on the Mickey Mouse Club, buy a house on the Battery, and be President of the United States. I think that was pretty progressive for 1990. Back then and now, my goals don't jive with me being a wife and mother. But that doesn't make my choices any less valuable or valid than those of a woman choosing to have a baby. They're just different.

The author describes "meternity" leave as a sabbatical where one can focus on herself. If she can afford it and wants to "find herself" (whatever that really means), go for it, sister. I'm not hating. Actually, I kinda just lied. I'm not hating, but I'm pretty jealous, which is what I suspect some of these angry mamas are too. I'd definitely be pretty angry if some girl with perfect highlights and a non-spit up stained suit told me she was taking "meternity leave" to go to Bali to focus on centering herself while I was all, "Yo, I'm drowning in a sea of poopy diapers and playdoh." But that's life. Can we please rant and obsess about super important things like equity in pay for women and paid MATERNITY leave?

Also, this: Can we women please take a sabbatical from hating on each other for our choices? It's a novel, y'all. Let's put the pitchforks down.

Keep up with Sarah at Bitchy but Bubbly or on Facebook or Instagram. She's also currently learning how to tweet.