Last week I saw a headline to an article regarding “meternity” leave. Something about some woman who thinks childless women should get some “me” time, too. Is that really a thing? Though, I found the term itself quite annoying, I had zero desire to read about it. So I didn’t.
I saw the word again a few more times but still felt no inclination to find anything more about it until I saw someone in a blogging group I am in post a defense of meternity leave.
Clearly, I wasn’t the only one annoyed by the concept.
Surely, this blogger had seen enough backlash that she decided to state her defense. I must say, I give this girl credit for having the bravery to write a post in defense of meternity. Essentially opening herself up to an angry virtual mob of mamas.
So, at last, I read about this meternity.
And, once again, I was annoyed.
While I thought the woman defending meternity made some valid points (as does Meghann Foye the woman who started this all with a New York Post article promoting her novel, Meternity), no amount of truth could make up for the fact that the word itself, meternity, is offensive.
The blog post I read defending meternity suggested that women that are upset over this are merely jealous.
I’m sorry… what?!?!
Although, I do believe that there are moms who get jealous of childless women and their freedom (and by “freedom” I mean their ability to go to the bathroom without someone watching) I absolutely do not believe that the backlash over meternity has anything to do with jealousy.
It has to do with the fact that there are actually women like Ms. Foye who somehow think that maternity leave is a “break” or in her words, “a socially mandated time for self-reflection”. (I could hardly think straight for the first two to three months after having my son. By this time, most women are already back at work.)
Intended or not, this viewpoint minimizes what is actually going on when a woman takes maternity leave. To suggest that childless women are entitled to a “break” as well is not only ludicrous but it is insulting.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that women without children do not deserve a break. They absolutely do. I was 35 years old when I had my first child, which means I was in the workforce for many years… without a family. I worked as a children’s minister for almost my entire adult life. Though, church ministry is an extremely fulfilling profession it can also be extremely demanding. After 13 years, I had become burned out. So, at the end of 2013 I took a break.
Not a meternity. A break.
It was a time where I could just lay low. It was a much needed me time. Never in a million years, though, would I have thought of calling it a “meternity”. Also, at no point in my working life did I envy women who got a maternity leave. And not once did I ever think I deserved time off like women having babies did, for “self-reflection”.
I am completely sympathetic to the fact that women without kids can lack work-life balance just as much as any other woman. (For many years, I was one of them.) And I wholeheartedly believe that all women should take care of themselves. However, let’s not be mistaken… maternity leave is not a time to take care of me. Ok, yes, there is a recovery time but, even then, any woman who has had a baby can tell you it is next to impossible to take care of yourself when you have this tiny human that depends on you for everything.
And I mean, everything.
Ms. Foye suggests in the original NY Post article that women who have children “learn how to self-advocate”. Now, I’ve only been a mom for 11 months so maybe this lesson is taught later down the road but the closest I’ve gotten to self-advocating is when I purchased an Easter dress for myself because I “deserved” it. The dress cost me $10 (thank you, Costco) and I later felt so guilty that I planned to take it back. My mom talked me into keeping it.
Did you catch that? My mom.
She advocated for me, her child. She too has issues treating herself to new things or focusing on herself.
Self-advocation is a challenge for most moms because we are constantly advocating for our children – thinking about them, their needs and their wants.
Ok, so, I realize that all off these passionate feelings are the result of a book and a fictitious character but the statements made by Meghann Foye are very real. And she is receiving very real support. I really wouldn’t be surprised if it did become an actual thing, by that I don’t mean a “socially mandated time for self-reflection” but I can’t say I’d be shocked if women started posting pictures on Instagram of them on the beach somewhere exotic, #meternity.
Again, I believe the message of taking a break is a good one. Self-reflection? Self advocation? Wonderful!
If you need some time off, take some time off. Even if you don’t need it. If you can afford it, do it – there may come a day when you won’t be able to because of the tiny people that depend on you.
Take care of yourselves, ladies, please. But whatever you do, let’s not allow ourselves to diminish maternity leave by accepting this “cutesy” play on words.
Let’s advocate not just for ourselves but for one another. Let’s fight for better maternity leave laws, encourage friends to take much needed “breaks” or whatever else we might deem necessary.
But, please, let’s not make meternity leave a thing.