Did You Hear About This Meternity Leave Thing?
And no, I didn't spell that word wrong.
Last week on Good Morning America, I saw a story about a woman who was advocating for meternity leave. And nope, I didn't spell that wrong. It's really a thing. Or I guess it's something this women wants to be a thing.
Apparently the whole idea is that since women having children get maternity leave, those not having children should get maternity leave. Because apparently maternity leave has a whole lot of selfish perks.
I was pretty outraged. I'm childless and Mr. T and I don't plan on having kids and I would never, ever think of such an idea. Maternity leave, in my humble opinion, is the very opposite of "me" time. In fact, I would wager a guess that most mothers on maternity leave have very little time for themselves at all. They don't take the time off to find themselves, but rather to care for their newborn. And I would assume they care for themselves as well but it's not massages and time relaxing on the beach. Again, this is all speculation since I've never had maternity leave.
After a little research, I found out that really the story wasn't presented all that well on GMA. It partially seems to be a PR stunt because the gal who came up with the idea wrote a novel. And it also stems from ideas that I don't think are that far off.
You can read the article over on the NY Post here.
But here's the main idea along with my thoughts:
Parenthood provides flexibility.
As pointed out by the author, parents generally have a good "excuse" when it comes to getting out of work or staying late at the office. I agree here to some extent. I mean, no one is going to question you if you have to leave early to take little Johnny for his doctor's appointment. But then again no one is really going to question if I have to leave to take myself to the doc either.
I don't think it's that cut and dry to say it's unfair that parents get to leave the office on time while those sans children have to stay. Do I think it's unfair? Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt. I don't think it's fair for any one person to pick up the slack. But, I also don't think it's fair to judge a parent for needing flexible time. The truth is, we all need it from time to time. I mean, are you going to say it's unfair that someone with cancer gets to leave to go get chemo? Probably not (dear lord please say you won't). So you're attacking the wrong thing.
I also bet if you really looked deep inside that office you'd see that there are things that the childless experience that are unfair to those that have children. Like maybe promotions or trips. I also don’t think every single boss as every single job is understanding about missing meetings, deadlines, and not staying late. There are SO many factors here.
And, let's not forget that these parents aren't leaving to go have "me" time. Let's also not forget that most of us already get meternity time. It's called vacation.
Those who spend months away from their desks come back more sure of themselves.
This could be a thing. I don't know. I've never personally witnessed it. But I will say that I don't think that it's because these parents have all this time for self-discovery. I think it's more that they have a whole other list of priorities that don't even involve work. And I think being a parent changes you. Just the same way any other huge life event does.
Women are bad at putting themselves first, but when they have a child they find it easier to put the needs of their family over work.
I whole heartedly agree that women are bad at putting themselves first. I am terrible at it and I don't have kids or some big important office job. But let's not forget that these women aren't putting themselves first. They're putting their family first. So there's no comparison. Sure, a mom might know when to say no at the office, but it's not fueled by something they, themselves need. It's fueled by the needs for this tiny little human that they just made. And how freaking overwhelming would that be? Trying to find the balance between being a good employee and a good wife and mother and a friend and anything else you are. Seriously.
Overall I think the author has good points. It's not fair to assume that those sans children don't have needs beyond the office. It's not fair to assume they can just pick up the slack or that they aren't struggling to find a balance. People should take time for themselves away from the office.
But I think she executes it poorly. Like, really, really poorly.
This is more about taking a sabbatical or at least understanding that you can and should have a work balance. This has nothing to do with mothers vs. those who aren't mothers. It shouldn't be an attack on parents because it's not their fault any more than it's a non-parent's fault.
And, can I just say. I hate how women are always competing with other women about stuff. Instead of pitting women against each other we should be supporting each other and realizing that we all have struggles of our own in some form. It's not mothers against those without children. It's not a competition or a battle.
Much of our situation in life is a result of choices and neither side should be punished for those choices. I am choosing not to have children so there are rewards and consequences. Others choose to have kids so they have rewards and consequences.
What are your thoughts?