In Defense of “MEternity” Leave

In Defense of MEternity Leave - www.bitchybutbubbly.com

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 😡 emojis, a childless young woman 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 with pitchforks in 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. Mama’s 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 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 her time off a “meternity” leave is just plain clever. 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 not also forget the millions of Mamas 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 “your” word 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 adage, “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:

Women – can we please take a sabbatical from hating on each other for our choices?

*Note: I added in that going to Bali part because I’m pretty sure I could use some Eat, Pray, Love time with Ketut.

29 comments

  1. Brenda says:

    Enjoyed the post. Love the idea of supporting each others choices regardless. It will be the only way we can make anything happen. We can get up to a year paid maternity leave here (I have never had). Can’t imagine having even three months off to balance myself. Thanks for putting it out there.

  2. Cherish says:

    Ahhh. I’ve never thought about using a “Meternity leave” to benefit the mother (I mean, besides bonding with baby). I know when I have children I will take advantage of it, but mostly because I know I will be missing out on so much of my family’s lives because I chose a super competitive career (future doc, here). Like, it stresses me out even now! Haha.
    But you’re definitely right that it’s a personal choice.

    • Sarah says:

      I agree. Easier said than done. Imagine what awesome things would happen if everyone did their own thing and stopped worrying about everyone else. Like Louie Armstrong sang, “What a wonderful world.”

  3. Trang Figueroa says:

    Love this. I tried to avoid any post that stir up drama and hate. I’m more likely to live under the rock 😂. In my opinion, if they want to take time off and take care of themselves, let’s them. I wish I did that when I was working.

    • Sarah says:

      As you can tell, I speak my truth, even in spite of it not being so popular. But that’s where all the good stuff happens! And I’m totally with you! People have to do what’s right for them. Thanks for stopping by, Trang.

  4. Jade Miller says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the jealousy thing. I hadn’t heard of this book or this outrage (I try to ignore outrage in general because rarely is it anything BUT ridiculous) but it sounds to me like women are just angry that they can’t be doing the same thing right now. It’s easier to fault-find than just own up to our jealousy that someone else is doing something we wish we could be doing. It’s easier to attack someone else than admit that we’re disappointed with where we are in life at the moment. It deflects responsibility off of us and onto someone else. Yawn.

    I’ve been reading around this blog for a little bit and I really like it! You say a lot of things that are so right on. I found it through a blog promo group on FB, btw. I’m sure I’ll be a frequent reader! Cheers.

    • Sarah says:

      Yes! There’s nothing worse than outrage focused on the person who can do nothing about the problem.

      Thanks so much for your kind words! Hit subscribe and let’s stay in touch!

  5. Rosi C. says:

    There are a lot of women who need that especially those having infertility issues. I believe I have those are my vacation days. Great read 🙂

  6. Sahvana says:

    I cannot believe the uproar over this whole thing. The girl was on one of the morning shows, and she seems nice. I don’t think there is any malicious intent here. Girl just wants to sell her book.

  7. Nicole says:

    1. Paternity leave should be more of a “thing” as well.
    2. “Meternity” leave should not be an exclusively a woman’s thing. My husband wants to walk the Appalachian trail and why should he be able to do so because it’s something he feels would be beneficial to him.
    3. Women should not be paid less or have to sacrifice their pay because they are able to grow humans inside of them.

  8. Gina says:

    Great read! I agree that we all need to just lay off of each other and instead build each other up. This comparison act is silly. We’re all doing our best and trying to do what we need to do.

    I honestly wish we could all have the time we need to regroup and come back to work/life/etc better and feeling like we can be more productive.

  9. Kimberly says:

    I think it was all in the wording of the article that went viral. The title indicates that the author thinks this is something that SHOULD be offered by companies (kind of like companies SHOULD offer maternity leave)

    But I really couldn’t tell from the actual content of the article if that’s what she was even really saying.

    Of course, who wouldn’t agree that months off to rejuvenate and mentally clear their heads sounds fantastic. But lots of people would disagree that its the obligation of an employer to provide that.

    Unfortunately, the author may have been portrayed as suggesting something she didn’t!

  10. Amanda says:

    I agree with you completely. It was just a funny play on words that people are taking WAY too seriously. As a mama who just finished mat leave last September I think people are just being too sensitive! Love your blog! Especially the title! hee hee!

  11. Claire says:

    I see what you’re saying but she probably should have just called it a sabbatical. But you’re right it’s all to sell her book soooo that wouldn’t have done her much good. She’s pretty famous now so she succeeded!!!

  12. Kristin says:

    What an interesting read! Never heard of the novel, but I can see both sides of the argument. Jealous, yeah I’d be a little jealous, but logically, we all need to be taking care of ourselves. And it’s not selfish. Those haters need to get the sticks out of their butts and look at the bigger picture. Great post, and I laughed at your blog title too. Clever girl 😉 <3

  13. Erica says:

    The core: women need to quit hating on other WOMEN. There is a reason there is a reason it’s called a “good ole boy’s” club – and we as women seem to sabotage ourselves with the hatred against other women. You don’t have to agree with them all, but support their right to make their own decisions.

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