All non-parents should be allowed paid time off from work in the form of a period of 'meternity' leave. That's what the author of a new novel aptly titled Meternity* believes.
Meghann Foye is the 38-year-old author of new book Meternity*, about a frazzled editor who pretends to be pregnant so she can take some time off to figure out her life.
Meghann recently did an interview with the New York Post, explaining why she believes all non-parents (and particularly non-mums) should be able to take a similar paid period of 'meternity' leave.
In the original New York Post interview, Meghann said:
But the more I thought about it, the more I came to believe in the value of a "meternity" leave — which is, to me, 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.
For women who follow a "traditional" path, this pause often naturally comes in your late 20s or early 30s, when a wedding, pregnancy and babies means that your personal life takes center stage. But for those who end up on the "other" path, that socially mandated time and space for self-reflection may never come.
I had to stop reading there for a moment in order to gather my thoughts because the notion that maternity leave is a space for self-reflection is pretty much laughable. I mean c'cmon - self-reflection?!
I actually think Foye makes a really valid point that you shouldn't have to have a baby in order to have an opportunity to reconsider your working life. Plenty of mums start new businesses during maternity leave or at least acknowledge that it provides a welcome chance to think differently about their careers, after all, and the chance to work flexibly or change career path in this way shouldn't be out of bounds for those who aren't mums.
B-u-t I still think Foye is barking up entirely the wrong tree with her assertion that maternity leave means letting your personal life take centre stage. My baby took centre stage during maternity leave and, at least with my first baby, I spent most of that period worrying that I'd left my personal life on the floor of the delivery room and fretting that I might never get it back.
Most of us think we know a thing or two about motherhood before we have kids - it's a common mistake to believe that your kid will never have a dummy or be a fussy eater. But when reality hits, and we realise that few of us knew as much as we thought we did about motherhood, most of us find that our perspective changes. We become more understanding of the toddler who still has a bottle, or the mum who doesn't appear to object to the fact that her child eats only fromage frais and toast. I can't help but wonder whether Foye might one day discover how wide of the mark her presuppositions about maternity leave truly are.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this story. Do you think women who aren't mothers should be granted a comparable period of paid time off to focus on other interests? Or do you take issue with Foye's meternity concept? Come and join the debate on our Facebook page or add to the comments below!