Maternity leave for the childfree?

Egads. I read something on the Strollerderby and I want to hit someone. Someone other than the Balloon Boy Dad:

“A survey of 2,000 women in the United Kingdom found that women who aren’t mothers want maternity leave, too.

In related news: 74 percent of women also claimed to want stretch marks and sleepless nights.

Okay, that last figure isn’t entirely accurate, but this is: Nearly three quarters of women surveyed favor mandated “maternity” leave for women who aren’t mothers.

In the U.K., mothers are entitled to a year of maternity leave, 39 of those weeks paid. (Raise your hand if you’re jealous — a whole year!)”

via Woman Without Kids Want Maternity Leave Too | Strollerderby.

You know I was single once and had to pitch in when someone in the office pool went on maternity leave. I mostly wondered why I wasn’t getting paid more for doing two jobs – but I never thought, “Oh, me too. I should get maternity leave too!” Because that would mean I had a baby at home and would seriously put a cramp in my lifestyle.

Maternity leave is not a good time. Or at least it wasn’t for me with babies possessing shark teeth and large appetities. I had to recover from surgery – twice – and not by choice. I couldn’t walk up stairs or lift anything larger than my baby. So that pretty much knocks out carrying your luggage to the nearest flight to Cabo. I could continue a list of my painful and exhausting six weeks “off” but someone might jump in and remind me how it was my choice to have  a child. Yes, I choose to re-populate the earth so you can continue to enjoy the services of doctors, electricians, postal service workers, teachers and anyone else you might find useful long after the current ones employed have died or retired.

Perhaps if we lived in a nation that actually supported raising children I would be having a grand old time in my six month or year long sabbatical from the workplace. But I would also be doing much harder work than I do now when I head to my loft office in downtown Manhattan and leave my seven-month-old and three-year-old with other people. Besides the sleepless nights, the hormonal and physical jerk around – simply taking care of children and shaping them into good little people is non-stop, all-consuming and requires every ounce of your mental energy. If you’re childfree and think that taking a year off is similar to my maternity leave – you can suck it.

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3 Responses to Maternity leave for the childfree?

  1. Caitlin Kelly says:

    The larger issue is one of wanting a recognition we’ll never get — i.e. the child-free — that our time caring for our closest friends or family of origin or “just” our partner or spouse (aka our family) is equally valuable. But only parents get this official recognition.

    I have watched single friends, struggling mightily in this recession, fly across the country over and over to deal with an ill or dying parent. Caring for kids remains paramount when, for many of us, caring our own parents will be as great and costly and time-consuming a challenge.

    • April Peveteaux says:

      I totally agree. Family leave should be the big picture issue. Yes, women who give birth have to physically recover from childbirth and that should be a given, but fathers should be allowed time off work (paid) to care for their new children and that rarely if never happens in the US. The same is obviously true for anyone who adopts or fosters a child. Taking care of our parents and other family members should be under the same umbrella as family leave. It’s shameful that we have no national standard in place to care for the people around us without either losing our job, or losing wages that we cannot afford to lose.

      • April Peveteaux says:

        And…the oft neglected partners. As awful and mostly non-existent paternity leave is, there’s nothing in place for same-sex or non-married partners when their significant other has a baby.

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