Maternity leave is no picnic. You’re recovering from childbirth. You have a brand-new human you’re suddenly responsible for. There’s barely time to shower or eat. Let’s not even talk about how little sleep there is, for anyone. (For the record, I went back to work two weeks — yes, two weeks — after my son was born. I had a very demanding freelance client whose money we could not survive without. Judge away.) So, when this woman starts complaining that she’s missing out, and that she should get to take a “me-ternity” leave to “find herself,” my first thought is: Look, lady, that’s called a sabbatical. Or, it’s called vacation time. I guess if she’s trying to gin up controversy though, she’s succeeding on that front. Whether or not it’ll help her book sell remains to be seen.
Honestly, the more people like her spread this kind of misinformation (that parental leave is equivalent to some kind of luxury vacation, or that they’re not committed to their jobs, or that they don’t deserve that kind of support from their employers), the harder it’s going to be for real policy change to occur in the U.S.
I really enjoyed, and wholeheartedly agree with, Elizabeth Bromstein’s take on the issue. She says, that if you feel you need time to explore your interests, hobbies, or just “find yourself,” great! Every woman (and man, for that matter) deserves the time and freedom to do so. But don’t confuse that with the desperately needed time for new moms to heal and for new families to bond. Time for spending quality time together and adjusting to the new presence in her life and home. Doing that would be doing a disservice to new moms everywhere.