In case I seem a little crankier than usual…Peewa got the stomach flu at 6:30 am yesterday. Grace contracted it at 12:00 am last night and Ben at 2:00 am. I contracted it at 3:00 am. Dreamy, of course is unscathed, which would make me hate him a little, but he went out and got me pepto bismal and diet ginger ale so we’re good. So basically 2 hours sleep and a night full of hurting, crying, puking and pooping. The kids weren’t much fun either. (Side note, Ben is terrified when he sees Mommy throw up but the other two couldn’t care less).
So with all this down time in the wee hours, I entertain myself reading articles on Facebook and LinkedIn that end up enraging, amusing or baffling me. The whole meternity thing was one of those things. I’m sure everyone has seen or heard the hubbub (or maybe it’s just a buzz) about some crazy lady out there asking for meternity time to go figure out her life because people with kids get all these fun perks that she’s not privy to. I’m pretty sure the premise is a joke, or something to shock and grab people, because no one is this much of an oblivious moron, but it worked. People paid attention and there have been some hilarious responses that I humbly admit I just can’t top.
But at the core of the issue are two really important problems. First, of course, is the way our country treats maternity and working mothers in general and second is the concept of employment itself. Full disclosure here, my ‘research’ into this consists of pretty much of the aforementioned browsing Facebook and LinkedIn, asking people what they think and of course my own experience. However, I do have some observations and questions. Now, far be it for little ol’ me to attempt to start a social revolution, or deconstruct society as we know it (no matter how dumb and antiquated it is) but if I WERE to start a social revolution it would TOTALLY be based around these two things.
Let’s hit the easy one first. If you are a woman of childbearing years in this country, in the workforce, and you actually want to bear a child and continue in the workforce, your life will not be easy. Emotionally there is the constant guilt over not being where you should be, whether that’s at home or at work. There’s the reality of just not being able to be the 110% contributor because you just can’t stay until 7 finishing the report or your daycare will keep your kid or something. There’s the unspoken but very real lack of opportunities once people know your limitations. And of course, if you do choose to opt out for a while, you’ll disrupt your career and earning trajectory. Not to say it’s not totally worth it, of course but that is a reality. And the 6-12 weeks that you get to figure it all out is just NOT sufficient. Especially since it’s all unpaid!
Meternity, on the other hand, sounds completely offensive on its face, but that’s only because they’re comparing it to maternity. Meternity as proposed, is basically a sabbatical to go figure out what you want to do and realign, refresh and return to work (usually) focused and energized. Now even a fainting goat knows none of that happens on maternity leave but the concept sounds wonderful! It’s actually also called getting fired or quitting sometimes but that just seems scary.
My theory is that the discomfort comes from our society straddling two worlds. On one hand we are still depending on our employer and the government to take care of us and our newborn babies and our careers. On the other hand, we all know that’s just not happening anymore. I say, take meternity to its logical conclusion…dis-employment. Don’t rely on the safety net of an employer…if you need recharging and reinventing and your job isn’t doing it for you then go! Reinvent! Recharge! The employment situation of our grandparents, built on the back of a physical-labor-intensive industrial revolution pretty clearly doesn’t work anymore. So opt out. It’s okay…people do it all the time. Don’t like your job? Don’t like your benefits? You HAVE options. So there’s my revolution for this week. And yeah, paychecks are nice but you probably have more power and more earning potential than you think…just sayin’. Can you feel the revolution coming?