I don't like being called "Mom." Except when it comes from my kids. From others, the title Mom often comes with a negative spin. "She's just a Mom." "Oh, yeah, well, she's a Mom, so what did you expect?" Eyeroll. Mom. These issues tend to come from people who feel every woman once she becomes a Mom somehow relegates to the times before we had a right to vote. It's as if Moms no longer have a brain. I'll admit that I lose mine a lot more often now that I am a Mom, but I always find it. There are some who imagine that we -- in our jobs as Moms -- sit on our behinds all day except for the time we kneel to scrub the toilet, maybe change a diaper.
But I know what a Mom is. A Mom is everything to everyone. It should be one of the most revered titles. But titles and labels face debate. And right now someone used the term Mom in a derogatory way. Another punctuated a point by saying, "She's just a stay-at-home mom." We give ourselves a label and people call us names.
Every label, every term, every job title comes with a list of assumptions. Let's say you're a Chef and everyone will think you have the best pots and pans and a fridge stocked with the best ingredients that you casually whip into Michelin star meals every night. My boyfriend is a Chef. He eats crackers and cured meats most nights. Though when he's up for it, the assumption many of us have of the incredibly delicious gourmet meal does happen. Just like there are times that Moms are sitting on their behinds and taking a moment to relax before the chaos of the kids getting home from school hits. A moment before homework help is needed and when another kid needs to be taken to piano lessons. A moment after the bills were paid, the dinner for the night was planned, the Matchbox cars were put away. Things were done. Work. Maybe not work in the sense that there is a paycheck every two weeks, but hard, honest, meaningful work was done. In the name of the family. The home. The heart.
Ester Bloom, writer at Slate, questioned the term stay-at-home mom and suggested that we replace that title with homemaker. I can't help but feel a step back in time with that one, even though I love all things retro and vintage. Homemaker feels like I should have my apron on, hair in '50s-style updo, chained to the oven. Even though I don't want to have a thought completely tied to a word, I do. I'm hung up on what's in my mind, a definition formed that just won't quit. I get how home is the warm way to say house, and maker might even conjure thoughts of True Blood, but homemaker isn't a label I want. I want my kids to call me Mom and everyone else to just call me if they want to hang out with me. (Text, actually. I hate talking on the phone.) I don't want a label. It's too complicated, too misconstrued, too binding.
What one person thinks of when they hear Mom isn't what another person thinks. I know Moms who are doulas and help women birth babies and become Mothers who also are home with their own kids most of the time, tending to the household duties, being Mom, homemaker, stay-at-home mom, too. I know single Moms who do a little work outside the home when the kids are in school. I know homemakers who volunteer at the public library and are active in the PTA and help raise thousands of needed dollars for the school. There are simply too many aspects of our lives as Mothers to be confined to a label.
The problem, however, shouldn't be what we call ourselves or what others call us, but how society has defined these labels. But because we live in the time we live in, people are always going to ask us what we do. If we answer, I'm a Mom or I'm a homemaker or I'm a stay-at-home mom, there is far too much gray area for someone to have a complete understanding of what that means. And there are those assumptions. Also try putting that on your resume if and when you return to the workforce -- the same workforce that was so unaccommodating to your parenthood needs. Most of us are painfully aware of the maternity leave issues we have in this country. But being a Mom is a very worthy profession. Also time consuming. Many of us have experienced the attempt to work at home when also taking care of children. It's impossible. We can't always have it all or at least all at the same time. We are forced to make decisions for our families. And yet being called a Mom still carries a negative stereotype for some.
Maybe we all just need to stop calling each other names. We all need to have more respect for the Moms, the homemakers, the SAHMs, the whatever label you want to label yourself. If you're going to call someone Mom, make sure you say it with the right meaning, the meaning that truly means what a Mom is. We need more compassion and understanding and appreciation and have more regard for each other. Exactly what our own Moms taught us.
What do you want to be called? Do you have an issue with labels? Have you experienced any form of discrimination when being called a Mom, homemaker, or SAHM?
Image via Carissa Rogers/Flickr