I receive a late night text from a friend with a link to an article she wanted me to read along with the following message:
“This article left me with my mouth wide open. I think someone needs to write their views on motherhood and what it means to be on maternity leave. 😝”
I bet you a weekend with all three of my kids that you already know what she’s referring to without even peeking at the link included below. If you guessed the Me-ternity debacle, then get ready because my kids are a handful.
I didn’t get to read or even glance that link until about two days after she sent it. Once I did, my reaction can be classified as…let’s see…WTF!!! along with some laughter, a shake of the head and a smack of my hand to the forehead (my forehead, not hers, but you probably figured that out already. Although it would have been more satisfying the other way). I was ready to give my counter article to what I thought was an absurd notion. As I began to spew thoughts on to paper, I remembered my motto to never write something when I’m emotional about it. I took a step away from the laptop and gave myself a “time away” to stop even caring about this woman’s skewed perspective toward maternity. I didn’t even know her. Her words would affect me in no better or worse way. And even if this woman caused many women out there, child-free women, to believe the same way, it would still not affect a mother’s right to maternity. And then I thought about the future of many of these women… “Ah! One day they will know the truth! They will be enlightened and VINDICATION will be supreme!!!”
That was back on April 29th. Today is May 13th. Between work, kids, home, life and a few glasses of wine, I’ve done some extra research online. No, no, not about maternity leave. I’ve got that one down pat after bringing in three boys in to this world (please refer back to my last post “Stop Claiming That Women Are Weak“
. That one’s a doozy). I’ve actually been reading about other people’s point of view on what Ms. Meghann Foye has openly and courageously admitted, out loud, with her face plastered everywhere, with a grin. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t speaking out of line or just regurgitating what hundreds of women have already expressed, especially since I’m a bit late to the Me-ternity-slam bash. Here’s what I’m bringing to the table.
From all the articles I’ve read, Meghann Foye had expressed jealousy or envy toward fellow coworkers that received maternity leave after giving birth. Sure, these emotions can convey some type of malice or resentment. But can any of us, without truly knowing this woman, really discern her feelings every time she witnessed another coworker happily grow the size of their family? Just stop and think about it. A 31-year-old woman at the time, who seemed to have it all and yet SHE was the envious one. Her hard work, for 10 years was getting her all the perks of her dreams, and all she was concerned about was the fact that other’s clocked out earlier than she did? She said and quote, “I loved my career. As an editor at a popular magazine, I got to work on big stories, attend cool events, and meet famous celebs all the time.” Yet this woman could not appreciate at the time ANY of it. This speaks volumes to the fact that this was HER empty issues, not any one else’s.
She implies that once her fellow “mommy” coworkers clocked out at 6pm each day, Meghann had to pick up THEIR slack. Why? Were these coworkers not competent to finish their mandated work for the day? Were they not coming in the next morning to continue what was on their desks? What kind of company did she work for that would not be aware that all these moms were not completing their work? I’m a bit confused. Is Meghann Foye complaining about the work picked up while a parent was on Maternity Leave, or the “slack” picked up when a parent left for the END of the work day?
I will have to agree with one thing….there are people in the workplace that clock out at the end of the day leaving urgent matters undone. People that don’t know how to manage their time in the day correctly. People that work overtime on a consistent basis because they spend valuable work hours socializing more than working. People who go on vacations or take personal days or go on a sabbatical without as much as tying up loose ends or completing their projects before they take off. PEOPLE…. with or without kids. Working 13 years in a company I’ve seen people like this come and then eventually GO! Because a responsible company, a successful company will not tolerate this type of behavior for that long.
This author’s biggest mistake was (or was it?) thinking or claiming that maternity leave was a beneficial perk.
“I want all the perks of maternity leave without having any kids. 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.”
Apparently she didn’t do her research to understand that in many states, the states where her book would hopefully fly off the shelves of, maternity leave is aptly classified as being on “disability”. Sure, it’s a personal decision. But that’s like saying that someone who chooses to play sports, an athlete, and then becomes injured due to their personal decision, is now reaping the benefits of their injury. Is that disability time a perk for them? Is this handicap a perk? Is getting a handicap parking tag to be closer to the mall one of those “perks”?
Her so-called “friends” took a leave and she made an assumption on why certain changes in their lives occurred.
“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.”
It seems, sadly, those weren’t truly her friends. If they were, she would have visited, or been invited to their homes as they “grappled” with their new lives and emotions with this unknown little being. She would have known what her friends were feeling during this getaway. That becoming a mom, at least during these first few weeks makes a parent more UNSURE of themselves as they get used to their new roles in life. It’s sad that not one of these women were comfortable enough to share their true lives or feelings with Meghann. Did Meghann know that her friends weren’t sleeping enough? Did she reach out to them to give a helping hand? Did she know they were in pain? I mean, heck, she could have still done some research, but she did make the disclaimer that this is just how it “seemed” to her, from “the outside”. True friends are on the inside. They show an interest and confide in one another. No one seemed to be confiding in Meghann. Meghann was on the outside.
Comparability; “of equal value”.
“As for me, I did eventually give notice at my job and take a “meternity” of my own. I may not have been changing diapers, but I grappled with self-doubt for the year and a half that I spent away from the corporate world. And I grieved the loss of my dad, who had just died after a long illness.”
This is a three-parter….
- She gave notice to take a “MEternity”. Fine, for argument sake, I’ll say that’s comparable. I gave notice of my upcoming MAternity leave as well. That’s where the comparison STOPS! She took a YEAR AND A HALF leave. Maternity leave is at most 3 months. I really wish I could have done that, but unfortunately, the U.S. gives UNPAID maternity leave. Hey, she may have gone unpaid as well. If that’s the case, then that too is comparable. But she only had to support HERSELF! Parents on the other hand, cannot stay away from the workforce that long without the security of both a paycheck and health insurance for this new human being.
- She made a note about how burnout syndrome is “well documented”, how self-doubt is something SHE suffered from. Can she claim that she educated herself equally to the burnout and self-doubt parents feel during maternity leave? Or the burnout parent’s feel because they have a SECOND job at home that they don’t get to clock out from? Self-doubt is something every parent suffers from. Am I doing this right? Am I a good parent? Was this the right choice? Will my actions send my child to future therapy? And many moms SUFFER a serious and uncontrollable case of this, it’s called Postpartum Depression. What if I hurt the baby? Why doesn’t it stop crying? Can I truly do this? Please, if you’re going to make a comparable claim of need, make sure it’s… well… COMPARABLE.
- It’s a very emotional burden to take care of a deteriorating parent and then lose them in death. I know. Many of us know. And I will not be insensitive to her feelings on that, I will be realistic though. I am happy that she was able to get away for that long to truly grieve him. To deal with the feelings of loss and loneliness. Most of the U.S. only get a 3 day bereavement window. Again, not even closely comparable. But I’m sure she knew that already.
Finding Oneself…AND FAME
“My first novel, “Meternity,” was just released, and is about a woman who fakes a pregnancy and discovers some hard truths about what it’s really like to “have it all.” “Ultimately, what I learned from my own “meternity” leave is that any pressure I felt to stay late at the office wasn’t coming from the parents on staff. It was coming from myself. Coming back to a new position, I realized I didn’t need an “excuse” to leave on time. And that’s what I would love the take-away for my book to be: Work-life balance is tough for everyone, and it happens most when parents and nonparents support and don’t judge each other. I want kids in the future, and I might still take a traditional maternity leave. I might not. But either way, I’m happy my “meternity” taught me to live on my own terms and advocate what works for me.”
Maybe Meghann should have led with this statement first, accepting that her initial perception was a making of her own mind and not a reality of life….
OR maybe, just maybe everyone needs to understand that THIS….ALL OF THIS was a marketing ploy. She didn’t have to do much research to know that mothers are a power to be reckoned with, a group of women worldwide that will fight to the death for their rights and position in this world as people who truly are doing their best to DO it all and give it their all. She worked with moms. She saw how hectic their lives were. She observed them like primates at a zoo and an idea illuminated. She took a sabbatical to not only “find herself”, but to find her first novel. Yes, it takes that long to write a book. She knew that. And why are people really upset anyway? Does anything this woman say really matter? It’s a fictional character. And EVEN if Meghann herself did believe all that she wrote, that TOO is fictional in the real world. Mothers know that. Why do we need to convince HER? Don’t worry about it. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, one day she will have kids, she will feel the pain, both physically and emotionally. And watch, she’ll write ANOTHER book and continue to remain relevant.
— The Pretty Platform
Meghann Foye’s NY Post
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