A Response to the Me-ternity Leave Columnist


Are They Growing Up While You're on Your Phone?In her article in the New York Post,  “I Want to Have All of the Perks of Maternity Leave – Without Having Any Kids,”  Meghann Foye talks about how she felt it was unfair that new mothers get paid time off for maternity leave, while she and others who chose not to have children didn’t get the same.  She proposes that women (and maybe men) should get some time off for reflection that she calls “me-ternity leave.”

Now I feel the eye roles from millions of parents out there and yes, she does appear to be that clueless.  While she seems to think that new mothers are home, sipping coffee in light-bathed sunrooms while reading the paper (having slept in until late morning) while their newborn child sleeps peacefully in a room down the hall, only waking periodically to coo and do cute baby things, mothers and dads can both attest that the weeks and months after having a new child are anything but peaceful.  Getting sleep 2-3 hours at a time, trying to cram food down during the brief moments you have, and always walking around with a little bit of spit-up on you shoulder (because it happens so often you no longer bother to change or even wipe it off) is not conducive to deep self-reflection.

And that’s where Ms. Foye really misses the whole point, probably precisely because she has not had kids herself.  In fact, she has it exactly backwards.  Once you have children, you go from worrying about yourself and yourself being the focus of your attention to the children being your focus.  You start to watch kid shows, read kid books, wake up at kid hours, (once they get old enough) go to kid movies, and take vacations where you look for kid activities.  I barely noticed the playgrounds at parks before I had kids but they became the focus of my life for many years.  Maternity (and paternity) leave isn’t about taking time away from work to focus on yourself and look at the direction of your life.  It is to figure out how you will need to change your routines now that you have someone in your life that will take your constant attention.

I remember just looking at other people in restaurants, just sitting there waiting, and thinking how wonderful it would be to just sit.  Looking back, I wish we had eaten out less and maybe just done take-out when we didn’t feel like cooking because going to restaurants was usually a terrible experience between fighting the children to stay in their seats and the inevitable rush to the parking lot with a screaming child just as the food arrives.  Actually, we used to fight over who got to cook most nights since it was a break from constantly addressing our childrens’ needs.

I remember thinking as I rocked my son late at night how after he had grown and was out of the house, I could start to do things again.  But then I realized that by the time that happened, I would not be wanting to do the same things.  I wasn’t gong to go to the dance clubs when I was fifty.  I wasn’t going to go play spend the weekend mountain biking with friends.  That part of my life had ended and a new part had begun.

I started to realize some other things about work as well.  I’m guessing (perhaps incorrectly) that Ms. Foye looks down her nose at women who stay home to raise the children.  I’m just guessing this given what she thinks maternity leave is like.  Really, raising children (for those who have the capability to do so) is one of the most important jobs there is.  We seem to lose sight of the fact that we go out and work to bring home money for our families.  It is like we have all decided that the people who leave the cave and hunt have the important role, such that everyone wants to go out and hunt.  But we forget that the whole reason we’re hunting is to take care of the children back at the cave.

Now I’m not saying that the mother needs to always be the one to stay home.  Really the decision is a combination of who has the better paying job and who has the capabilities to  do a good job raising the children because that is the more important and difficult job that many people are not suited to do.  In a year, few people will remember anything someone does at the office.  Certainly in twenty years almost everything will be forgotten and the presentations that were made will have been deleted.  But the children will continue to make an impact on the world, good or bad, and a big part of that impact is due to the work of the person who raised them.  We’re already seeing the impact on the world of children who were raised by no one.

Being the primary parent is also far harder than many jobs.  Now I’m not talking about people who stay home, but let the TV raise the children while they go on about their lives.  I’m talking about parents who spend the day taking care of the children, dressing them, teaching them, finding activities for them to do that expand their experience, correct them when they act inappropriately and encourage them when they do well.  It takes enormous patience, enormous energy, and enormous sacrifice to be a truly great parent.  There is nothing “me” about being a great parent – it takes giving totally of yourself.

But when you truly do, you start to realize how incredibly unimportant all of those other things that once filled your world really are.

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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice. It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA. All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

What do you think?  Please leave a comment?

Contact me at vtsioriginal@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter to get news about new articles. @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice. It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA. All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

2 thoughts on “A Response to the Me-ternity Leave Columnist

Add yours

  1. We don’t have kids yet but are actively planning for our first and I think it’s a little ludicrous that someone would propose a “me-ternity” leave just so they could have “time off for reflection.” Our society has become so incredibly self-absorbed, self-entitled and self-centered, it really makes me worry for the future of our planet and race!

    1. I think it is just a misconception from someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a parent. I really think everyone around age 18 should be required to take care of an infant for a week or so – it would add perspective.

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