An author's idea that women who don't have children should receive the same benefits as mothers has sparked backlash on social media.
Meghann Foye is the author of Meternity, a novel about an overworked editor who decides to fake her own pregnancy to get paid time off, aka "meternity" leave.
In an article in the NewYork Post, Foye explained how she worked as a magazine editor in real life and has said she felt "envious" toward parents who "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," she said. She told a pregnant friend of hers that she needed her own maternity leave.
"It seemed that parenthood was the only path that provided a modicum of flexibility," she wrote in the Post. "There's something about saying 'I need to go pick up my child' as a reason to leave the office on time that has far more gravitas than, say, 'My best friend just got ghosted by her OKCupid date and needs a margarita' – but both sides are valid."
“But the more I thought about it, the more I came to believe in the value of a “meternity” leave -- which is, to me, 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.”
The "meternity" leave proposal caused a backlash from moms who say maternity leave was certainly not a break, but rather a time to recover from giving birth followed by a lifetime of caring for a child.
Foye was scheduled to appear on Good Morning America, but canceled and released this statement:
"I have tremendous respect for women who take time away from building their careers to raise their children. It's inarguably the hardest job in the world. I've seen my closest friends do just that. I would never begrudge anyone who decides to start a family and takes maternity leave. And I totally get it when moms who return to work need to leave at 6: they have a second job waiting for them when they get home after working all day," the statement read. "My concept of ‘meternity’ is designed to introduce and support the notion that all women deserve the opportunity to take stock and re-examine their goals in order to birth a life that works for them. Moms need it, and so do the rest of us who are trying to figure out the work/life balance. More than anything, all women—moms and those who aren't—need to support each other."
A psychiatrist on mother of four told ABC News that the idea of "meternity" leave is dividing.
“It minimizes the notion of stress and guilt for working moms and it also really undermines the fact that being a mother is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week full-time commitment,” Dr. Janet Taylor said. “We can’t belittle that because we know that our kids just don’t need us when they’re younger and they’re infants, they need us throughout their lives.
Foye eventually did take "meternity" spenidng time grieving the loss of her father and authoring this book. She said she learned the pressure she had been feeling was self-created.
"I want kids in the future, and I might still take a traditional maternity leave," said Foye. "I might not. But either way, I'm happy my 'meternity' taught me to live on my own terms and advocate what works for me."