Dear Meghann Foye,
I recently read an article in the NY Post entitled, ‘I want all the perks of maternity leave-without having any kids’ about your new novel “Meternity” and I started to think that despite having two kids I must have been screwed out of something. I always thought the only perk of maternity leave was my adorable little baby boy (who eventually turned into the eye rolling tween that eats me out of house and home). I wasn’t aware that I was supposed to be having a sabbatical like break with self-reflection while I was on my maternity leave. I was too busy fumbling through the sleep deprivation and dealing with all the blood, pee, puke, and swollen boobs to do any deep soul searching. I didn’t get to go back to my job more confident with an excuse to leave on time. I went back to my job with more responsibility, stress, and guilt.
The fictional character in your book fakes a pregnancy to learn lessons about what it’s really like to “have it all.” The thing is, I don’t think you truly understand what being a working mother is like. You saw the mothers in your office rush home at closing time to pick up their offspring and you wrongly assumed that working mothers everywhere have it easier because they have the “kid excuse” and you have to stay behind to pick up the slack. The truth about the majority of working mother’s lives is that they have it harder than you. I know you are probably pissed at that statement, but it is 100% the truth. I don’t care how demanding your career, family, husband, boyfriend, friends, and responsibilities are. I promise you they all pale in comparison to being completely responsible for another human life. If you think it’s hard to put yourself first now, you don’t even know the half of it.
So let me fill you in on exactly what you obviously don’t understand. When I had my oldest son I was twenty-one and poor. I left the hospital the day after I had what the doctor termed a “civil war C-section” and took my son home to our tiny rental house. I was immediately responsible for this little life. He was so fragile and needed me to do everything for him. He didn’t understand that I had almost died giving birth to him less than twenty-four hours before. He just needed me to suck it up and be mom. That has been the theme of my life ever since.
As a working mother, I have had to work twice as hard as my non-parent or father colleagues to prove that I was just as good at my job as them. In a lot of career fields, if you take time off because of your children, it is seen as a weakness and you start to get passed over for promotions and opportunities. When you spend sixty plus hours working each week you miss a lot of the milestones with your children and people start to question your commitment to motherhood. Every day I walk a tight rope trying to balance work and life. I’m not just talking about “boo hoo hoo I have to work and all of my friends are drinking margarita’s”, I’m talking about “my son got hit by a car while riding his bike and my boss said I can’t have the day off because work needs me and I can’t tell him to fuck off because I need this job to pay the hospital bills and my mortgage” So please excuse me if I don’t feel sorry for your struggles with work life balance.
The truth is the only “perk” that comes from motherhood is the child-related perks. When my kids tell me they love me, that’s my reward. Knowing that our species will continue because I nurtured a tiny part of the future generation that’s the only real social perk. The rest of it is a struggle. I’m constantly pulled in twenty different directions, I don’t have enough hours in a day, and I can’t get off the roller coaster because, if I tried to take a six week ‘Meternity’ leave it could destroy the lives of the children I am responsible for. I’m sure your life gets challenging at times. However, your complaints come off as selfish and entitled. Motherhood is hard enough. We don’t need women who don’t understand making it even harder for us.
A working mother of two
Tiffany O’Connor is a mom to two amazing, energetic, and fearless boys. She is married to her high school sweet heart and has three college degrees. Her hobbies include watching TV shows about zombies, hiding in her hot tub with a bottle of champagne, and writing all about her misadventures parenting in a “man cave” at #Lifewithboys.