I am not a “stay-at-home” mom

I’ve identified as a “stay-at-home” mom (SAHM) for most of the 4 years that I have been one. And during those 4 years, I’ve learned that it’s impossible to please everyone, which is an incredibly hard thing for me to learn as I am an avid people-pleaser.

Being a SAHM used to be the norm, and as trail-blazing women have opened the doors for moms to have careers, society seems to have decided that instead of having choices, women now can’t do anything right.

Being a mom and having a career still battles the same stigmas, despite the fact that most families in today’s economy cannot survive on a single income.

But being a SAHM has surprisingly developed a stigma as well. SAHMs are seen as less driven, more judgmental (ironically), annoying, etc. Just look at these search suggestions in google.


Only one of the suggestions is positive (and even that one is not necessarily true).

Just for comparison’s sake let’s take a look at the most searched phrases that begin with “working moms are…”


Hm… I’ll let you interpret that on your own.

I stumbled on this TED talk recently–Why have we stigmatized and marginalized the stay-at-home mom?

This talk addresses the issue of labeling moms as “stay at home.” See, for any other job, it isn’t important or really even relevant where the work takes place. When asked what you do, you don’t say “I’m a sit-at-a-desk customer service rep,” or “I’m a behind-the-steering-wheel delivery driver.”

I highly recommend that TED talk, but I’m going to focus on something the talk didn’t address.

The stay-at-home label is inaccurate –at least for me.

I leave the home multiple times a day in my role as a mother. I drive my son to and from school, we go to therapy four times a week. We have frequent doctor’s appointments and I pick up the groceries I order. We also go to the park and take walks (which may be play for the kids, but trust me it’s still work for mom).

There may be that rare golden day every once in a while when we have nothing going on and really do stay home all day, but that is not the norm.

See, a “SAHM” is no more a “stay-at-home” mom than a working mom who is home with her kids on the weekends.

And there are probably some people who would disagree with me, maybe they think I’m taking the label too literally. But you see that’s just the problem. People take the label literally and assume SAHMs are lounging around on the couch all day eating bonbons and binging Netflix. That’s where these google searches are coming from.

The reality is, whether you have a career or not, all moms can really only be labeled as one thing: a mom.

And it obviously goes both ways. “Working mom” may be a badge of honor to some but sound selfish to others. A working mom is a mom 24/7 whether she’s on someone else’s clock or not, and her career status does not lessen her value as a mother. And again, this label could be seen as inaccurate, as she’s likely only working 40/168 hours a week. Less than a quarter of her time is spent working! So shouldn’t she just be “mom” and (insert career title)?

These labels are dividing us. Arguments spew back and forth on who has it harder and who is setting the better example and whose kids are emotionally healthier…

So let’s drop the labels. Let’s just all be moms. Because that’s the job we all have in common, all day, all week, all year for the rest of our lives.


One thought on “I am not a “stay-at-home” mom

  1. At my 20th high school reunion, I was getting tired of telling people what I “did.” I got so many judgmental looks from people! Then, one of the guys there asked the question. I answered. He got a big smile on his face, and said, “Wow, you’re a full-time mom, just like my wife! That’s awesome!” I felt SO good after that!

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