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At 38, author Meghann Foye isn't a mom. But when she was 31, she wanted what the moms she worked with as a New York City magazine editor had: a maternity leave.
Wait, let me remind you. To someone without kids, maternity leave seems pretty appealing. You don't have to drag your butt to the office. You don't even have to check your work email. You just get to be at home with your sweet, new baby, and make a little money simply for bringing another life into the world. The (albeit misplaced) jealousy spurred Foye to write a novel called Meternity, about a working woman who fakes a pregnancy to get her own 12-week break from work. Upon the release of her book, Foye told the New York Post that everyone, man or woman, parent or childless, deserves a "meternity" leave.
Cue the backlash.
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As any working mom knows, maternity leave (if you're lucky enough to qualify for one!) isn't a blissful vacation from all your troubles. It's your time to recover from the most physically grueling event many women will ever endure--all while starting a new job, that of caring for a newborn, which just may be the most physically demanding task many moms will ever tackle. And because Foye focused on one side of it--as the worker who picked up the slack when her colleagues went on leave--she couldn't have known just how difficult that leave can be.
Now moms all over the Internet are bashing Foye in comments on the Post story, and on the countless other sites who've copied the narrative. The Amazon reviews for her totally fictional book are predominantly from women who haven't read it and are appalled at Foye's proposal. People are calling her selfish, a nutjob, and a "schmuck." I've even seen my own Facebook friends THREATEN TO INFLICT PERSONAL HARM on Foye.
Which is especially crazy to me because Foye--wait, no, doesn't feel right--Meg, you see, is my friend.
In between 31 and 38, Meg's friends, and nearly everyone else around her, had children. And she learned the realities of maternity leave, and how trying motherhood is in general, though of course, no, you never KNOW until you're knee-deep in diapers, have a burning desire to pee (without it burning), but can't because you're nursing a newborn for longer than you slept the previous night.
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Still, no one can get past the part where she says everyone deserves a 3-month paid break from work to get a fresh perspective on their life. Having been the new mom who worked with Meg and left at 5 PM to pick up her son from daycare before the center closed, I KNOW Meg doesn't think maternity leave is the same as vacation. But I agree with her that time away from being a working stiff DOES change your perspective. That's all she's saying (and maybe that it'd be nice to use your kid as an excuse to get out of something--raise your hand if you've never done that!). So please, before you post publicly about your desire to slap Meg, (who's very nice, you'd like her), realize that her novel is just about what would happen if someone who wasn't a mom got to take a maternity leave. Let's just say, it doesn't go as well as she thought it would.