It is my deepest hope that you don’t see yourself immediately in the character of Liz Buckley. She is strong-willed, funny, a little angry, a little sarcastic, a little stuck for reasons she is too quick to blame herself for, but most of all she’s very, very tired. Like her predecessors before her—Nan of the Nanny Diaries, Rachel Miller of Something Borrowed, Andrea Sachs of The Devil Wears Prada—Liz is self-aware and capable, yet too smart for her own good and finds herself in an ever-worsening, seemingly inescapable situation only she can get herself out of.
And the worst is that she got there by doing all the right things. Liz’s worked her ass of in high school to get into a good college. She worked her ass off in college to get a good job. And she worked her ass off for 10 years, expecting for it to all pay off with a top-of-the-masthead title and a life that has magically worked itself out. But instead of “having it all” all that “leaning in” has only left her staying late at the office to finish all the work from the women on staff who didn’t forget to get married and have kids. Pints of vegan cashew and Tinder-douches calling her “too catholic” for not giving a blowjob on the first date aren’t helping. Doing everything right has led to a life that’s all wrong.
So for once in a very, very long time, she allows herself to let go. She’s tired of controlling everything, tired of the frenetic pace and tired of pretending she can do it all by herself. And tired of the women at work who seem to have it so easy and find ways to rub it in her face while handing her their files to finish. In a rapid-fire confluence of events ending in one extreme panic attack/millennial pregnancy app/maternity jean reveal, her bosses assume she’s pregnant and she lets them run with it. Just for a little while. To figure out an escape plan. Her “Plan B,” if you will. But what comes next does not follow any plan at all. ☺
I conceived Liz’ character in an almost fever frenzy when I was 31 myself. I was newly single after a long, sad breakup to my boyfriend in my 20s, burned out from working 24/7 for 10 years—well, my whole life, really…when my three best friends all giddily announced they were pregnant on the very same night at supper club and would all be taking maternity leave that summer. I wanted one too. Without a baby at the end. Yes, I had always dreamed of marriage and motherhood, but I still wasn’t ready. I wanted—needed—some time off to figure out exactly what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life. A moment to breathe and create, rather than continue on the burnout track. And then the big idea occurred to me—well, to my best friend Weatherly:
“You know what you need—you need a me-ternity leave.”
“Haaaaaa! I should fake being pregnant to get one!”
“You should! How funny would that be?”
And the book you have in your hands is the result.
And the answer is…it’s very funny. And hopefully very true. About the pressures we feel to get all the biggest questions in our lives all right. Exactly on time. And perfectly. And how, paradoxically, the only way to do it is to throw out all the rules and follow your heart, or…wear a fake baby bump to work 😉
I hope you have as much fun reading as I did writing. And if you are indeed a Liz Buckley yourself, I hope you have a chance to take your own #meternity before settling down. Email me if you need ideas or inspiration ☺