Do We Really Need a New Word for 'Stay-at-Home Mom'?

Mom Moment 52

The other day a Stir reader left me the following comment: "Linda, you are not truly a SAHM." Her point, I guess, was that because I have outside employment, I don't know what it's like to be an at-home mom. Even though I am, in fact, a mom who doesn't have an office job. I also don't have a nanny, I have one child who's not yet in school, and I take care of all the household tasks, from cleaning to laundry to meals to grocery shopping to doctors' appointments.

I'm not sure why the fact that I also work my ass off to earn a paycheck keeps me from being a "true SAHM," but I've felt this disconnect before. I work, but I'm not the sort of working mom I was when I went to an office full-time. I'm at home, but I don't quite feel like that description fits me perfectly either -- and clearly, there are others who don't believe I deserve the title.

The lack of good terms for our increasingly complicated world of balancing work and parenting is why this author proposes we need an entirely new word for "stay-at-home mom." She points out that while it's true that only women have the burden of being defined in such ways ("working dad"?), what we call each other has meaning. It reflects how we perceive what someone does, and maybe more importantly, it has the capability of altering that perception.

She lists some inherent problems with describing mothers and their relationship with the paid workforce:

Stay-at-home mother? “Makes me sound like a shut-in!”

Working mother? “Don’t ALL mothers work!”

Non-working mother? “Really? You think I’m eating bonbons?”

Full-time mother? “What, you think because I have a job I am only a mother part of the time?!”

The fact is, few of us fit neatly into the predefined categories. We may be working part-time, running a business from home, volunteering at our children's schools, and on and on it goes.

I don't love the term SAHM because to me it implies that I don't have non-mom responsibilities -- or that we're always home. But neither do I enjoy being told I don't know what it's like to be a SAHM, because dude, who do you think is doing all the at-home-momming around here? *looks around wildly for invisible team of housecleaners, nannies, chauffeurs, and personal assistants*

I suppose it would be nice if we had descriptive terms that reflected the value of ALL of our complicated, ever-changing roles. But if you ask me, it would be even better if we didn't need to rely on these sorts of divisive acronyms in the first place. If we have kids ... we're moms. Full stop. Leave the made-up title at the door, thank you very much, my house is messy enough.

What do you think about the idea that we need a new word for "stay-at-home moms"?

Image via Linda Sharps

work, working moms


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nonmember avatar NoWay

How about "housewife"? Hahaha!

amnew... amnewlon8982

If you really need a term for yourself, what about using "work from home mother?". It implies you ate still home but that you also are responsible to your work obligations. Could work. I am a stay at home mom, I work from my home sometimes and.sometimes it is just us. I don't need a label but if I did, I'd likely have to use several.

mande... manderspanders


Maybe if women just didn't get their panties in a bind every time another woman opens their mouth. . .

Who cares? Just take care of your family!

Elisha Hannafey DeMaria

I could care less... It is what others' insinuate, not what I think of myself... I say I have TWO Full time working jobs- one outside the home, the other as a mom to a child with Autism.

mrsbj... mrsbj2010

I agree with amnewlon8982 work from home mother is perfect.. And I also agree with manderspanders.. who cares what your called!!!!! Stop worrying so much what other people think if someone asked she say i work from home and take care of my kid? what's the big deal just because you can't shorten that sentence into a 4 word description?

lulou lulou

The terms never bother me as Id done them all.  What does is when a SAH parent is the presdient of the SAH association, because I know that can create far more time consuming office tasks than an office job.  Also those extreme couponers who brag about making $10,000 for working 8 hours a day 5 days a week.  Granted I have to learn not to care so much about $2 coupons and more about investing.

dekumama dekumama

Yeah, you're a WAHM, not exactly a new idea. I want new labels because Stay-At-Home-Mom is a mouthful.

Freela Freela

I would think if you work from home, your 'acronym' would be a WAHM (work-at-home mom.) I've been both a full-time SAHM and a WAHM. They do feel like slightly different situations, even though I'm still at home.

nonmember avatar Me

How about, gasp, "mother"? Lol the way some people approach parenting, youd think it was an olympic sport.

No one should care what portion of your day goes to laundry, arts and crafts, homework or earning a paycheck, as long as you stay out of "Cops" lol

Rootbear Rootbear

Who gives a shit what other people classify you as? All it does is fan the flames of discontent, or tries to anyway. So you're a mother, who works and does all the same things in a day that normal people do. Why does there have to be a special descriptive word for that? Everyone needs to stop caring so much about what other people think of them. The world would be a much better place.

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