February 9, 2012

an open letter to moms

photo by momp photography
Ladies, we need some new terminology.

One day in the car, my son asked me, "If a baker bakes and a teacher teaches, does a ninja ninj?"

We moms have the same problem as ninjas.  The names that we have for what we do, well, they do not actually describe what we do.  I first started thinking about this while I was catching up with a friend, the mother of twins, at the beach one summer.  In the course of the conversation, I asked her if she was working, part time or anything.  She started to answer, but her mom piped up from her chair.  "I hated when people used to ask me that.  Yes!  I have two young children!  I am working 24 hours a day!"

She was right, of course.  I myself am a teacher with two young children and a small business.  I am a "working mom".  But what mom isn't working?  Similarly, in an understandable attempt to get away from the completely inaccurate title of "stay-at-home mom", women have started to self-identify as a "full-time mom".  OK, that's more accurate, but does it imply that I am a part-time mom, letting my familial concerns float away as soon as I clock in at school?  Perhaps that is overly defensive, but the reality is that many of these terms are loaded in a way that we, as women, have allowed.  Many of our descriptors have taken on a this-not-that element that somehow passes judgement. 

Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe the negative connotations are in my head, the result of the guilt we inevitably feel no matter the path we take.  I would like to think that women are rooting each other on, thinking that each of us is just doing what's best for us and for our families, though that might not be what's best for the mom or the family next door.

What do you think?  Do we need a branding overhaul on motherhood?


  1. I wholeheartdly agree! I don't know what the right terminology is though. I recently changed my Etsy shop profile to say WAHM instead of SAHM because, like you, I have 2 little ones full time and run my shop. Some time I say Chief Operating Officer. Lol I can't help but feel a negative connotation to it. We just moved and I know my new neighbor who works thinks I do nothing all day even with my shop. Or at people act surprised in social situations when I say something ittelligent or current instead of talking about diapers. It makes me mad. I managed businesses before I stopped working to take care of my kids. And once they're in school I'm going back to schoolbto get a second degree. I probably have a chip on my shoulder about it. People think I have time to do things for them during the day like cordinate entire family vacations, look up things on the internet, find directions or drive people to the airport. I have a job. Heck, I have two. I don't know what the rifht answer is but I know I feel a sense of satiafaction when other parents have their kids for a week off of school and they just can't handle it. ;) Then my job title is super woman.

  2. I like "super woman"! What you are saying is exactly why I brought this up. I think women on both sides of the working/stay at home aisle feel kind of defensive and I wish there was a way to open the discussion in a supportive way. In some way, do these titles we give ourselves keep us from relating to moms who are doing something differently?

  3. Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! I have a question about your blog. HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com