If you’re as fatally yet irresistibly drawn to goings-on in the Momblogosphere as I am, undoubtedly you’ve seen the article floating around about “meternity” leave. Long story very short, a woman wrote a book about faking a pregnancy in order to take a sabbatical, and then, to advertise the book she wrote an extremely short-sighted article about how childless women deserve the “benefits” of maternity leave.

I won’t link the article because it’s clearly rage-bait and deserves no more attention, but the benefits of maternity leave apparently include having a pause from the daily grind of work, increased time for self-reflection, the ability to take time to reevaluate the direction of your life, to heal, and to learn how to advocate for oneself. When you’re done laughing, I’ll continue.

I’m trying to give this woman the benefit of the doubt, as of course my maternity leave transformed me into a person with godlike empathy and I am now capable of such things. I know that from the outside, my move to freelancing instead of returning to waged work probably looks alluringly like ‘following my dreams’ and ‘discovering what was really important to me’. In reality, the absolutely necessary labour of parenting being incompatible with my day job meant that freelancing was the only route available to me. Every week is a struggle to make ends meet, but the alternative was doing all of this PLUS being beholden to an employer, because the work doesn’t just go away.

It’s hard to describe the amount of service and sacrifice that goes into raising a child without describing it in trite phrases like ‘life-changing’. I reached a point where they literally could not have paid me enough to keep me at work, because when you’re dealing with a small child, if you’re not in their corner 100% of the time, the results could literally include their death. That is a heavy cross to drag into the meeting where your boss tells you that you need to get your priorities in order — yes, that’s a real thing someone said to me.

You should be able to take a sabbatical if you feel the need — which is basically what this woman is suggesting. I’m just so surprised she got as far as publishing a book before someone took her aside to let her know that maternity leave isn’t a sabbatical.

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