I am on manternity leave. Not maternity leave. Not paternity leave. Manternity leave. Maternity means motherhood. Paternity means lawsuits and tests. It conjures up images of Maury Povich wielding a manila envelope.
Paternity leave sounds like the exact opposite of maternity leave. I would not be surprised if some people thought paternity leave was when fathers’ skipped town and left their babies only to return years later when the kids were grown.
“Daddy left when I was 2 years old. Momma said he’s just on paternity leave.”
That’s why manternity leave is a much easier term to understand. It’s the “oh, it’s like you’re taking maternity leave but you’re a guy” explanation. Manternity, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is a combination of the words man and maternity, not man and eternity like some would have me believe.
It turns out most men never take this kind of leave to be with their children. According to statistics I’m vaguely remembering from an article I read some months ago nearly 100% of women take some form of maternity leave while only 10 or 20 percent of men take an equivalent paternity or parental leave.
So I’ve taken four months off of work to look after my daughter. My wife took her maternity leave for the first eight months and looked after our daughter with the skill and aplomb of a newly landed immigrant nanny. Now it’s my turn to be Mr. Mom. It’s my job and I’ve been assured that it is actually work and not some luxurious four-month summer vacation like I’ve imagined.
For the next four months I am the stay-at-home dad, the manny, and the house-husband –at least until 5 o’clock. That’s when my wife comes home and is quickly handed the baby like the hottest of hot potatoes. I’m not on manternity leave after 5, I’m on paternity leave.