When I returned from maternity leave after 12 weeks home with my son, some of my co-workers asked me how vacation was. "You had all that time off so it must have been nice." To which I would throw back my head, laugh delicately and agree. "Oh yeah! Maternity leave is clearly just a glorified vacation!" Then I would keep laughing, and they would join in, but I'd continue until they got uncomfortable and started to walk away. I would then follow them into their office, still laughing, but with a crazed look in my eye. When they sat at their desk I would get really close to their face and, at this point, my laughs had just sort of become a series of jagged screams. The HR manager was usually called in during this time, but whatever.
I mean, HR Manager, I was just agreeing with my distinguished colleague!
Because, yeah! Maternity leave is so like a vacation. It's a wonder everyone isn't up and having a baby just for the vacay hours. Sure you usually have to get pregnant and, in so doing, sacrifice your body to discomfort, pain, and elevated health risks for nine months beforehand, but, like, other than that it's basically the exact same thing, right? Just think about all the things maternity leave and vacation have in common, you guys. You'll get the idea.
Because You Lie Around All Day
Healing. You lie around all day healing. Why? Oh, you know, because you've either managed to muscle an entire infant out of your love canal or you've just undergone major abdominal surgery. So you'll be resting at some point, which basically makes it a vacation, right?!
Oh, except you probably won't get to actually lie down for too long on maternity leave before you have to get up and get or do something for your baby, who DGAF about your healing. But other than that it's more or less exactly the same thing as luxuriating on a beach in the Caribbean.
Because You Party All Night
By "party" I mean "feed, rock, soothe, change, and attend to literally all the needs of your baby who doesn't realize that humans are naturally diurnal." But, hey, isn't anything done after midnight a party? So, with that in mind: Woot! ParTAY! So fun! So festive! This is just like that time you and your friends stayed up to watch the sunrise after a night of dancing on the beach in Antigua. It's just that, with this scenario, a baby just projectile vomited on your after their 3 a.m. feeding.
Because You Get To Sleep In
Until 4 a.m. you guys! Wow! Amazing! This is a damn treat! I feel so lazy, OMG!
*Starts giggling manically until my face freezes in a demented, wide-eyed grin and the only sign that my soul is dying is a single tear streaming down my face*
Because You Can Really Let Your Hair Down
In clumps, because postpartum hair loss means you will be shedding like a long-haired cat for weeks or even months. Your couch, clothes, and floor will be covered in a fine layer of your hair. During the Middle Ages the floors of most dwellings were covered in rushes (or loose plant material) which provided easily replaced, sweet-smelling insulation. Your hair is basically going to be the rushes of your modern-day dwelling.
This is so much like letting loose on vacation.
Because Your Baby Drinks So Much They Puke
Babies aren't lightweights, either. They can down milk and/or formula to the point where you're like, "OMG, how are you still drinking? Don't you feel like you should be done yet? This is insane. Go home, baby! You're milk drunk." But no. You have to stick with your baby while they made their choices, just like when you were with your crazy friend Ashley at that bar in Fort Lauderdale (Springbreak '07). It' basically the exact same thing. Except not at all.
Because There's An Endless Buffet
On vacation, especially if you're on a cruise, you get to just partake of an endless stream of readily available, delicious foods, any time you want and as much as you want. Maternity leave is like that, sort of. Since you do not have the time to eat a full meal, let alone cook one, maternity leave is basically just a steady stream of granola bars, baby carrots, and other foods you can eat one-handed. (If you're breastfeeding, this is especially important because you're starving more or less all the time.) So the foods aren't exactly the same, but it's the same basic premise, right?
Because There Are So Many Fun New Activities To Try
Like figuring out how to find time to shower! And how to get a baby to sleep somewhere other than on your chest! And how to change a diaper so that no poop leaks out of it! Who needs renting a jet ski or zip-lining or riding horses on the beach? This is just as fun, you guys!
Because You Get To Nap
There's nothing quite like falling asleep with the warm sun shining down upon you as a gentle breeze caresses your body. Oh, except maybe finding 15 minutes to sleep on your couch because your infant finally settled down and you got three non-consecutive hours of sleep last night so you need to eke out any amount of shut-eye you can at any time in order to stay alive.
Sleeping increments that are deemed torture under the Geneva Convention is just like drifting off in a beach chair while reading the latest Jodi Picoult you picked up at the airport book store.
Because You Might Enter A Wet T-Shirt Contest
OK, so not so much "enter a wet t-shirt contest" (sidebar: no thank you literally ever) as "drench through several shirts a day with breast milk." But the key ingredients are there, right? Wetness. A t-shirt. A complete disregard for the fact that your nipples are highly visible. Is it a contest? Well, isn't everything about motherhood a contest?
Because It Provides Essential "Me Time"
OMG, maternity leave gives you so much time to yourself, you guys. Just like one of those fancy Eat, Pray, Love inspired yoga retreat vacations. You're basically swimming in a calm sea of self-exploration where you ask yourself deeply probing questions like, "What did I get myself into?" and, "How am I going to get through this?" and, "What day is today?" and, "Did I just wet my pants or did the baby pee on me?"
You are going to be so zen, you guys.
Because It's Over Before You Know It
Sadly, this is the most true because the majority of American women are going to be given insufficient maternity leave (my basis of comparison is "the rest of the world except for Papua New Guinea"), chances are you're going to find yourself facing the end of your time "off" before you know it. Somehow, it's often even more painful than leaving even the most luxurious, stress-free vacation imaginable.
Because There Are Amazing Views
Actually, I can't argue with that one, either.