I am not a stay-at-home mom. 

It’s true, I don’t have a job in an office building or a hospital or at any other physical address other than the one where I rest my head, but staying home?

I’m hardly ever there.

This morning, my husband left for work before the sun came up. As the door clicked behind him, the first of our four kids rustled awake, demanding granola bars and milk in short order. 

That woke the baby, of course, who cried while I pulled blankets from a growling first-grader and flicked the top light on above a groggy third-grader, badgering them to get up, get moving, get dressed, IT’S TIME. 

In a parallel universe, I’ve fixed their sack lunches the night before, signed all their school papers, and located shoes/sweatshirts/water bottles/sanity. But this is reality, and that ship sailed by week three of the school year. The good news: I’ve become a sort of nursing ninja who can breastfeed a baby with one hand, spread peanut butter with the other, and sign permission slips with my toes.

The bad news: it all leaves my house looking like a small nuclear explosion went off but there’s no time to try to deal with the fallout.

I herd the children into the garage at the last possible “on schedule” moment, only to dash back inside no less than three times for a forgotten backpack, a critically needed drink of water, and a missing left shoe. 

I’m sweating, and it’s barely 8 a.m. 

Once the three older kids have been delivered to their respective schools, you’d think the “staying at home” portion of this mom gig would start. And, back in that parallel universe, it probably does. 

But remember, this is that pesky real world. 

The dog has to get to the groomer. We need toilet paper so there’s a Target run required. There are books due back to the library last week. I’ve got to reschedule a haircut appointment that conflicts with choir rehearsal. By the time that’s all checked off, it’s time to pick up the preschooler. 

We grab lunch, swing by the store for a few forgotten groceries, and finally turn the ship towards home. 

The one I supposedly “stay at” full time. 

The one that still has toast crusts and half-emptied glasses of chocolate milk and dried chunks of banana adorning the countertop. 

The one that has a load of laundry on the living room floor waiting to be folded and two more waiting in the wings to be washed. 

The one that I’ll be driving away from again in 20 minutes (with the added bonus of having to wake the baby from a long overdue nap that started and stopped twice in the car) to pick up the kids from school. 

There’s nothing “stay at home” about being a stay-at-home mom. 

So what do you say we drop the modifiers? Let’s not be “working moms” or “stay at home moms” anymore, deal? Can’t we just be moms who love their kids, who treasure their homes, and who are all doing the best they can to stay afloat? 

I don’t know about you, but I’m way too busy mothering to be anything else.

Carolyn Moore

Carolyn traded a career in local TV news for a gig as a stay-at-home mom, where the days are just as busy and the pay is only slightly worse. She lives in flyover country with her husband and four young kids, and occasionally writes about raising them at Assignment Mom