The corporate world is a funny one. At a certain age, one by one female colleagues drop off to make babies. If you're a childfree professional who's "left picking up the slack," the idea of maternity leave can breed envy and resentment.
For 38 year-old Meghann Foye, watching coworkers enjoy a paid "break" seemed blatantly unfair and unjust.
So she decided to take her own leave of absence, and in the process birthed her own baby: a novel called “Meternity” in which a career woman fakes her own pregnancy so she can live it up and have some much needed "me time."
When describing her own career trajectory as a magazine editor, Foye worked and played hard. All the while she envied colleagues who were called away from work to look after sick kids, automatically expecting her, as the token childfree woman, to stay late at the office.
In a former life, I worked in a top law firm where I witnessed plenty of dynamics between the haves (children) and the have nots. Everyone there worked silly hard, yet occasionally emergencies would drag those with young families away.
When promotions and lay offs were on the table, though, parents were the first to be passed over because it was assumed they weren't as committed despite, in many cases, being more senior and experienced.
It wasn't fair, but it was understood that people made their choices and sucked up the sacrifices, both personally and professionally.
Maternity leave is not a party, after all. Neither is it a picnic. It's quite the opposite of Me Time. It's We Time.
Singles who wanted extended time away took sabbaticals, anywhere from a few months to a year. Taking a sabbatical was not frowned upon, even though the leave was unpaid.
Doesn't everyone deserve a break to hop off the corporate ladder for a while and soul search? Of course. But sipping pina coladas in the Maldives probably shouldn't be equated with the responsibilities of raising a family. By all means take a sabbatical, but don't expect to be paid for the privilege.
As Foye herself acknowledges, the pressure she felt to stay late at the office "wasn’t coming from the parents on staff. It was coming from myself. Coming back to a new position, I realized I didn’t need an 'excuse' to leave on time."
"Work-life balance is tough for everyone," says Foye, "and it happens most when parents and non-parents support and don’t judge each other."