Alright, there is a popular article that has pretty much gone viral all over Facebook and Twitter. I have seen it pop up on my feed quite a few times and I finally caved to read it.
The article on the New York Post titled, “I want all the perks of maternity leave — without having any kids ” by Anna Davies has stirred up quite a few blog posts and Facebook posts from moms all over, giving Miss Meghann Foye a piece of their mind. And well, being a mother myself and having finally read the darn thing, I decided to write about my feelings on this subject as well.
No, Meghann. I haven’t read your book. And there’s a very good chance that I won’t, mostly because I barely have time to read books as it is. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to sit here and say that I have never been in your shoes before. I have. I was once one of those women that focused solely on career and friendships as opposed to thoughts of having a husband or kids in my future. Well, I thought about it but after numerous breakups and heartache, my life became more about me than about having a “we.”
I joined the military with every intent to put in my 20 years, retire, and live a fabulous life of being single and never having any other responsibilities besides the ones that are needed to take care of myself. And hey, that’s totally fine. More power to anyone who takes pride in what they do with their life. Countless jobs before, I thought it was unfair that mothers got to take time off of work. I mean, what did I know? I just saw these moms getting paid to take time away from work or even what you said in the article in the NYP, people got to leave work early to pick up the kids and having a friend who just suffered a breakup wasn’t a valid excuse. Been there. I was like, ‘Why the heck can’t I get out early because I live 30 minutes away and I want to go out with my friends…but I have to drive all the way back home then all the way back HERE just to do so.” We all worked together, downtown…it just made sense.
Then being in the military, I thought the same thing, at first. People got to get out of working a 13-14 shift because the daycares on base shut down after a certain time and you HAVE to pick up your children. People got time off and got away from the job that we were all sleepily working at on a Friday evening…still here…
But that’s the thing. You never know anything about anything unless you have been through it. This whole concept of “Meternity Leave” just makes no sense to me. That’s what vacations are for. If you work in the corporate world, you get paid time off and well, many people who don’t get paid time off for vacation, still get time off to themselves to do whatever they please.
Maternity leave is not a vacation. Maternity leave is a time of bonding with your child and having those precious moments with them. Because those first few months are some of the most important times that baby needs to be with their mother. And 3 months off? Not many people get that luxury. When I first had my child, I was given 6 weeks paid and I took an additional 2 weeks of my own time that I had saved up. And that’s in the military. Granted, we have recently changed things a bit and we now get those 12 weeks – paid, but that wasn’t the case before. And think about many people outside of the military who are ALLOWED to take those 12 weeks or more off…but many moms can’t afford to take it off because that time off isn’t even paid for! So, the entire time that the mother is supposed to be spending time with their child and learning how to be a mother, they are spending time stressing about the bills that need to be paid and how they are going to make up for the time lost at work.
Ask your friend who decided to leave her corporate job and start a new business after she had her baby. What is it exactly that made you want to do that? I am willing to bet that it wasn’t…”I had an awesome vacation from work and I wanted to continue it.” It is very likely the fact that she pushed a melon sized child out of her vagina and realized what was important in her life and what her focus needs to be on. And let me tell you…I highly doubt she had a “break.” Do you really think stay-at-home-moms ever get a day off? Wait, don’t even answer that. I am willing to bet I know which side of the spectrum you’re on when it comes to THAT conversation.
But here’s the main deal with this post. THIS is what maternity leave looks like. And if you’ve never had a child, you wouldn’t know.
This beautiful moment after I had my first son is nothing short of amazing. Everything I felt was worth it. But what you don’t see here is that, I was terrified. Nurses and doctors didn’t speak to me. They acted like I wasn’t even there and they just had to get a melon out of me. What you don’t see is them pushing on my stomach and passing my placenta out and stitching me up. What you don’t see is the pain that I endured or the fact that because doctors wouldn’t talk to me, I had no idea what was going on.
You may see me smiling here but what you don’t see is that I am cuddling with my child in the early morning, after hours of fighting him to nurse. I had to battle with him to try and eat for the first 6 days of his life. He had jaundice and wasn’t nursing at all and I didn’t understand why. So, laying down with him in bed was one of the only ways to get him to calm down.
What you see here is a mom who stayed up all night with their crying baby. Trying to put him back to sleep after hours of trying. Many nights I fell asleep sitting up in my bed because my baby only wanted to sleep in that position.
No, I am not squishing my child, but this is a great example of what you DON’T see moms go through during maternity leave. Finally, a satisfied baby. Fed and ready to pass out. But mama? Covered in milk from leaky boobs, stained shirts, nipples that are sore and completely cracked from learning how to nurse her baby for the first time, and breast pads to help from a milk waterfall from streaming down your clothes. As you can see, it doesn’t always help.
There is always poop. I bet your “Meternity” never has a bunch of poop…or pee all over you. Or vomit for that matter, unless you’re covered in your own vomit from those margaritas with your girlfriends at the bar because you’re celebrating her newfound singleness.
An exhausted mother. Sleeping with an ice pack in between her legs, wearing very large mesh underwear from the hospital, and feminine pads that resemble diapers. It’s the healing process. You don’t see that, do you? That’s because most women don’t post that all over their Facebook pages. You don’t see the heartache some moms go through when they look in the mirror and see their bloated stomach STILL looking like they are 6 months pregnant because not all moms lose weight while nursing. You don’t know the feeling of having a stitch stuck in your lady parts because it didn’t dissolve like it was supposed to. And you don’t know what it’s like to not be able to be intimate with your husband, 1. because you can’t and 2. because you have no energy.
There is no such thing as a “break” when it comes to maternity leave.
So, go ahead and suggest to everyone that you deserve your “ME” time. Because honestly, us moms never really get that “Meternity Leave.” Once you have a child, there is no such thing as ME time. It’s about your kids. It’s about family. And yes, that’s a choice that we, as parents made for our lives. But don’t you dare say you need paid time off to have time to yourself just because women have a baby and get their time off.
Also, I found an article that I found completely hilarious after I started writing this post. And for those of you that want “MEternity leave,” I say, go for it. As long as you abide by the rules of this post. And I absolutely love it.
“So you want maternity leave without the kids? OK. Here’s how that should go.” by Elizabeth Bromstein