That thing is “meternity,” which, as Foye explains it, is “a sabbatical-like break that allows women and, to a lesser degree, men to shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs.”
Foye is childless by choice. Nobody here is saying that’s the wrong choice. She is deliberately forgoing one of the opportunities afforded women in life, which is to host a parasitic organism inside herself for nine months, then continue to support that organism for as much as thirty-five or forty years afterwards.
But our girl Meghann, apparently having grown tired of complaining about having too many letters in her name, is getting all whiny over the privileges of parenthood, of which she writes, “I couldn’t help but feel envious when parents on staff left the office at 6 p.m. to tend to their children, while it was assumed co-workers without kids would stay behind to pick up the slack.”
This jealousy might be justified if all those parents went home to sweet bundles of joy, were greeted at the door by childish kisses, fed their tender offspring a healthy, eagerly awaited dinner, read them an inspiring bedtime story, and had them in dreamland so they could log on to Netflix by 9 PM. However, in reality, parents open the door to a moody black hole of needs and wants who hates all nutrition except French fries, thinks of nothing except overcoming the barriers his mom and dad frantically erect to keep him from hurting himself daily, and no more wants to go to bed than he wants to eat the broccoli he flung all over the wall, which stuck there because a whole Velveeta brick was melted over them in an effort to make the him ingest something the color green.
In the nanoseconds between the time the squalling of his little voice stops and right before they start thinking “That damn kid’s been quiet for too long,” parents usually reflect on how much they would rather be at working late at the office, chugging Five Hour Energy’s until their blood pressure was higher than Stephen Hawking’s IQ, in a frazzled effort to meet some odious deadline.
Guys might also feel slighted by the phrase “to a lesser degree, men,” until they realize they have been working crap jobs since the dawn of time. “Since you can’t push a baby out of your body, you can help me push this mastodon off a cliff,’ the first prehistoric asshole boss once said, and it’s been that way ever since. We’re used to it. Besides, nobody is going to give us something called “peternity leave,” because of the way it’s pronounced and the inevitability of us spending it binge-drinking.
Meghann did eventually get her meternity leave, although she did it by quitting one job and taking her sweet time about finding another, giving herself the opportunity to do nothing but guzzle frappuccinos and counsel her single friends about their relationship problems and bitch about their husband problems with her married ones. She came out of this feeling whole and refreshed—it was like winning the lottery, except she idled at home instead of in Biarritz. And she allows that she might yet have children, in which case she might well think of buying back every one of her books and burning it out of sheer embarrassment.
Because you can get old enough to collect Social Security, but you’ll always be a child until you have a kid of your own. Trust me on that.