Friday, April 29, 2016

Me, Myself, and Whine

Meghann Foye, author of Meternity has something to say:

"I want all the perks of maternity leave -- without having any kids."

She is advocating a "meternity" leave ("meternity" as in "me me me") to balance out the apparent unfairness of women leaving the office to take advantage of that "socially mandated time and space for self-reflection" we call "maternity leave."

Hahahahaha!  This is a joke, right?  Really, it must be.  Because, let's clear up a few things.  The "perks" of maternity leave are as follows:

*Not having the extra burden of clocking in at the office added to the ten thousand other responsibilities you now have

Now for the non-perks:

*A human being making an excruciating exit of your body in one of two graceful ways: bulldozing its way out of your nether regions with all the tenderness of a mack truck, or being yanked unceremoniously through your sliced-in-half abdominal muscles.  Take your pick.
*The painful aftermath and recovery from said excruciating childbirth
*A squalling, helpless infant who is completely dependent on you for EVERYTHING at every hour of the day
*Minimal and constantly interrupted sleep
*Bodily fluids everywhere (yours and the baby's)

Honestly, time for self-reflection is pretty hard to come by when you have a human piranha attached to your nipples 20 hours a day and when you are dealing with what looks and feels like the aftermath of Shark Week in your hospital-issue mesh panties.

You want this to be fair, do you, Ms. Foye?  In that case you are going to need to set aside a significant amount of time in your "meternity" leave to get intimately acquainted with the following: Bleeding, swelling, stitches, hemorrhoids, stool softeners, bleeding, cracked nipples, hormonal upheaval, night sweats, more bleeding, mastitis, poop, vomit, and colic.  You are not allowed to sleep more than two hours at a time, you still have to manage basic household tasks, and you must host family members and friends who want to see the Cute Little Sabbatical, even if you are not up for it.

Sounds like a vacation to me.

Look, I have no problem with Ms. Foye's argument that everyone can use an extended break from work now and then.  What I have a problem with is her assumption that she is owed this break because women who have just grown and delivered new human beings to Planet Earth are getting an unfair perk by having time off to adjust and recover.  Growing, birthing, and caring for a newborn is not the same as sitting by a pool enjoying introspective chill time as you contemplate your place in the universe.  If you want a sabbatical, fine, but no one owes you one.

Least of all new mothers who already have enough to do.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


A month or so ago I read this article on Scary Mommy.  I felt every word of it.  Though I am not facing a hysterectomy, my husband and I consider our family of three sons and one daughter to be complete.  And yet... it isn't complete.  At least not for me.

You see, I have three sisters who are the most hilarious, fun, faithful, and kind women you could ever hope to meet.  We share our lives with each other in one continuous text conversation that regularly causes me to cry with hilarity.  I wish everyone could have sisters like them.  Including my daughter.

But, she is the only girl.  And she'll be the only girl.  I know this, and I accept this, and yet, it's still hard.

So when I read through the dozens of comments trailing Scary Mommy's Facebook post, many of them searing and judgmental, I felt their impact deeply.  "What are you complaining about?  You have three sons!" said one woman.  "You should be more grateful for what you have!" said another.

And I thought, how have we come to this?  How can someone share the vulnerability of their deepest longings only to have their grief brushed aside as if it belongs in the trash bin?  The fact is, the loss of a dream is still a loss.  And no sadness is correctly judged by someone else's Pain Assessment Scale.

The Book of Mormon prophet, Alma, taught that those who desired to join the church of Christ must be willing to bear each other's burdens, mourn with those who mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.  No qualifiers.  No exceptions.  He didn't say to mourn only with those who, in your personal estimation, have good reason to mourn, or to comfort only those whose personal decisions you agree with or whom you consider deserving of your charity.  Mourn with those who mourn.  Comfort those who need comfort.  Even if -- especially if -- you don't understand why they feel the way they do.

If years of infertility and grueling treatments taught me anything, it's that buried grief can turn in on itself and cause a person to grow bitter and cold.  But grief that is allowed the sunlight of a listening ear can blossom into something beautiful, because grief that is allowed to be can become.  It can transform into love and understanding.  It can change into empathy and compassion.  It can grow tall as a noble tree whose branches can provide shelter for the broken and aching hearts of others.

So be that listening ear.  Be that kind word.  Be that diamond of compassion glistening in the landfill of harsh internet judgment.  Reach out to serve and love and support.  We are all children of God, and we all deserve to feel His love.

No qualifiers, no exceptions.