At this point, I’m sure many of you have heard of the new book by Meghann Foye called Meternity, or at least heard about the backlash she is getting. In case you haven’t yet, here is a quick synopsis of the situation: Foye begin joking with her friend about wanting a maternity leave, despite not being pregnant. She noticed that women coming back from maternity leave were more focused, more self-aware of their career goals, and driven to pursue their own needs. She states that a well-crafted ‘me-ternity’ leave from the office to focus and reflect, and get some needed ‘me’ time would benefit women that choose to not have children. She wrote a fictional book where the main character fakes a pregnancy to get a leave from the office.
Her statements have brought forth tribes of moms, both working and at-home, screaming that maternity leave is anything but ‘me’ time, and is the most mentally and physically draining time they have ever experienced. I 100% agree with this, and would have joined in had I not read to the end of the NY Posts article interviewing her, and understood the heart of her message.
Her message really is about how women don’t stand up for themselves often enough in the workplace, take the brunt of extra responsibilities, or pick up slack of coworkers. Women have it in their nature to take care of things and people. Most do it without question, even if it means sacrificing something for themselves. As a full-time working mom, some of her points really hit home for me, so I decided to share my thoughts on the matter.
In a quote from the article Foye states:
“There’s something about saying “I need to go pick up my child” as a reason to leave the office on time that has far more gravitas than, say, “My best friend just got ghosted by her OkCupid date and needs a margarita” — but both sides are valid.”
I completely used to feel this, and still do. Before I had a child, I felt guilty for leaving at the end of my ‘contracted’ hours. I felt that I couldn’t possibly be putting enough time or effort into my teaching if I left on time, especially if I didn’t have kid to get to. Notice that we aren’t even saying leaving early, but ON TIME, as in, the time you stop being paid. Now that I have a child, I am out the door the second I can be, and don’t think twice about it. I feel like I finally have a valid reason to leave as soon as school is out, and don’t worry about being questioned by anyone.
I know that this pressure wasn’t coming from my principal or coworkers. It was strictly coming from myself, and the guilt I felt about the how my dedication as a teacher would be perceived by others if I didn’t stay late. We put so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves with these feelings of guilt. But let me tell you, my teaching wasn’t any better when I was staying late. In fact, I believe that this year I am my best teacher self, despite not spending hours and hours outside of the school day.
I have learned to be efficient in my lesson planning, put more responsibility on my students when appropriate (It is their education after all. if I’m working harder than they are, I’m doing something wrong), and know that any unfinished work will still be there tomorrow. Maybe this realization did come from time away from work, like Foye is suggesting, or maybe it came from a major shift in my priorities now that I have a baby. Or maybe it came from both.
Either way, we need to look at the heart of message that Foye is presenting. She isn’t claiming that maternity leave is like a vacation. But rather that a work-life balance is necessary, and advocating for yourself to have that balance is not something that you should feel guilty about.
So while I understand why moms are getting upset over the term ‘me-ternity,’ and how it implies that a maternity leave is all about ‘me’ time, her message is really about empowering women to advocate for themselves in the workplace, whether they have a family or not. We don’t have to do it all, there isn’t enough time in the day for that, but luckily we don’t have to. That is the message I think Meghann Foye wanted to share, and that is a message that can’t be shared enough!
Also, people, let’s remember that Meternity is a fictional book that seems like a fun, lighthearted read. It’s definitely on my Goodreads summer reading list. So friend me on Goodreads and let’s enjoy it together!