Maternity Leave Isn’t Meternity Leave

Yesterday, an article came out in the New York Post about a book recently released entitled “Meternity.” Essentially, this novel is about a childless woman who feels entitled to having the time off that women, and some men, take after having a baby. The catch is that she didn’t have a baby. She just wanted the time away from work. In her mind, having a child made women realize their true calling or passion, and that gave them the confidence to pursue that. She wanted to have that type of experience as well, just sans baby. This author liked maternity leave to a sabbatical.

Except it’s not. Shoving a human bowling ball out of your lady parts or having that person cut out of your stomach isn’t some easy, relaxing experience. You spend days to weeks to months in some cases (Hands up, other 4th degree tear mamas!) recovering from however that baby exited your body.

I have dealt with my fair share of comments from co-workers who likened my maternity leave to a vacation. They would say how nice it would be for me to have that time off of work. And while I agree it was nice to not be at work, I was constantly working. Up multiple times a night feeding that small person. Changing diapers. Showering once a week. Not even joking. Bleeding body parts. That’s right. Parts. To paraphrase Chrissy Teigen, I didn’t know both of us were going to come home in diapers from the hospital. Not much of a vacation or a spiritual journey to self discovery.

I mean, I discovered things about myself after having a baby. Like I am an absolutely horrible person when I don’t get much sleep. Or that coffee can be substituted for all other beverages at any meal. Or that I can not shower for a week and my hair only looks moderately disgusting. But the point of having a baby wasn’t to give me an excuse to leave work on time while the childless masses slave away finishing up after quitting time.

The time spent after birth is for recovery and bonding with your new alien-like creature. (Even after having two of my own, newborns still look like aliens to me. All tiny and wrinkly.) But the commercials that show a relaxed new mom laying in a soft bed covered in white linens and taking up a new hobby with her special snowflake newborn baby asleep like my dad after Thanksgiving isn’t reality. Babies are messy. Maternity leave is exhausting. And anyone who thinks it is easy is welcome to come spend one night with my kids.