If you haven’t heard of Meghann Foye, I’ll give you the skinny. She just came out with a novel that is about faking pregnancy to get out of work – and in promotional interviews for the book, she’s been talking about how she believes strongly in the benefits of taking a sabbatical type leave from professional life to reflect on one’s life.
Now, I haven’t the book but after seeing response posts popping up in blogs and on social media I had to read some of the interviews that are sparking such outrage against moms. And what did I find? Nothing much more than Foye outlining why taking a leave that is for oneself should be as common as taking family leave.
Her biggest sin, as far as I can tell, is capitalizing on the title of her novel – Meternity – and on the topic of that novel – taking advantage of the family leave system in the US – when writing about the importance of taking personal time seriously. If she’d written the same op ed for the NY Post without the click-baity title and without reference to her book, there’d be no outrage at all.
Unlike many, many people who take issue with family leave policies (or are simply jealous that some people are entitled to leave time), Foye actually has positive things to say about working parents:
Ultimately, what I learned from my own “meternity” leave is that any pressure I felt to stay late at the office wasn’t coming from the parents on staff. It was coming from myself. Coming back to a new position, I realized I didn’t need an “excuse” to leave on time. And that’s what I would love the take-away for my book to be: Work-life balance is tough for everyone, and it happens most when parents and nonparents support and don’t judge each other.
That doesn’t sound to me like someone who is mocking the limited amount of family leave moms and dads are entitled to take in the US. In fact, if I had to guess, I’d wager that Foye would actually support longer family leave! Nowhere can I see where she likens maternity leave to a vacation. She actually compares it to grieving the loss of her father and existing in the uncertain world of unemployment.
“I actually think they’re very different,” she told TODAY. “I think that a maternity leave is a time when you’re fully focused on a new human being. I think a meternity leave is when it’s really just for you. It’s a time to take a step back.”
And what’s wrong with the idea that someone might want time to step back, reassess, and explore their passions fully secure in the knowledge that their job will still be there in three or six months?
I actually do think people should be able to take some amount of non-vacation sabbatical type leave from everyday jobs to their pursue passions. And of course maternity leave is neither a sabbatical or a vacation. But Foye never said as much, though she’s being skewered on social media for supposedly having said that they’re the exact same thing or that she should be entitled to leave BECAUSE some women get maternity leave.
What she did say was that there is a lot to be gained by taking some me time – in particular, time away from work. And as a working mom, I’m not going to argue with that!