Kids Motherhood

Why We Need To Stop Calling Ourselves Stay At Home Moms

Why We Need To Stop Calling Ourselves Stay At Home Moms www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Gloryanna Boge

When I became a SAHM, my whole world turned upside down. I had no idea the identity crisis I would go through. As someone who had a teaching career of six years under her belt, it was quite an adjustment to go from being in the workplace and constantly interacting with other people, to being a mom at home who talks to herself most of the day.

But there are plenty of people I have talked to about being a SAHM and I would sort of cringe on the inside, worried that they were thinking the infamous SAHM question “what does she do all day?” Or better yet that what I do is some kind of cushy experience.

Then I have my good friend who is a working mom and while she is incredibly strong in her decision (and a necessary financial need) to be a working mom, she often feels pressured to say that she is standing for her feminine right and value to be a working mom. That for her, working is a fundamental way to show her sons the value of women in the workforce as equal contributors in their careers.

Does this mean that being an at home mom doesn’t meet that need she is talking about? I think the answer is no. For her, this is how she needs to show her sons. For me, it will be showing the side of what it looks like to be home as a woman, while educating him and showing him the power of women like my friend who work away from home.

Both are valuable lessons that can be taught whether you’re in the workforce or not.

But more times than not, both sides of the “mom” perspective feel the pressured need to defend themselves. Not to mention other child caregivers in our society who subtly, yet directly, seem to get a low recognition and pay from the general workforce.

And while I understand many women want to fight to get rid of the various mom labels as a means to stop defending themselves and judge each other less, we’re dealing with a bigger root problem here.

Why do moms feel this need to defend themselves?

Because there is an underlying patriarchal tone that still exists in our society that says you can’t win and be a mom, and if you do, then something along the way must have suffered in the process, making you less than. Maybe it was your career. Maybe it was your marriage. Your finances. Or worse, your children.

Many women respond to this conviction from society by explaining away their decision for motherhood.

A mother who struggles with her identity will have her own path to work out. A SAHM will need to be confident in her decision that may include transition from a career and not let what others think affect her peace of mind and heart. A working mother who feels she has to do what she has to do, shouldn’t feel like her choice to work penalizes her in some way as she tries to progress in her career.

We say that we believe each family should do what works best for them. Each mom should decide what will make her a better mom. But our society makes this one of the most difficult decisions a mom may have to make as she starts her journey down motherhood.

Plenty of research will tell you we have the shortest period for maternity leave with some of the worst benefits for moms. We bring new life to this world, yet we seem to be penalized for this with job security risks and high costs of childcare. What does this say about family values of the workforce? An unreasonable deadline forces a parent to work late missing the precious time with their family. Vacation time for most employees is a joke. And is there even such a thing as paternity leave?

A mother’s choice shouldn’t be pressured by society or her job. Her choice shouldn’t be influenced by the financial demands of today’s living, but sadly it is. Many times she doesn’t even have a choice. She has to work. So why aren’t we as a society able to see that we’ve created a patriarchal monster that ascribes a lower value to caring for your children and makes it that much more challenging to work or to be home? That her value is defined by being labeled as a “SAHM” or a “Working Mom?” 

We need to raise awareness that it’s not about erasing labels, it’s about changing societal standards which will result in label changes down the road.

While my decision to be a SAHM was a tough one, it is not one I regret and I know plenty of mothers who say it was a no brainer for them to become a SAHM. We are doing what we think is best for our families. I also know plenty of working moms who are confident in their decision to work away from home as they care for their children. Yet both will have to journey down the painful process of holding on to their identity while answering to society for the decision, and most likely suffer because of it.

In the end, we are all caring for our children and the choice we made (or lack thereof) enables us to be the best mom we can be for our kids.  Problems will always arise for both moms, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end all for their children. It doesn’t mean they are a lesser mom. Who am I to say otherwise?

And why should society get a say in her value based on her being a mom other than because she is female? Maybe it’s because we let them.

About the author

Gloryanna Boge

Gloryanna is a teacher turned SAHM whose identity is found in her relationship with Christ. She is married to her high school sweetheart who insists that dirty clothes can be left on the floor. Gloryanna writes to encourage others in their walk with Christ, no matter what season you’re going through. If you want to be encouraged, you can follow her writing at http://www.gloryannaboge.com/. You can also catch snippets of her faith and scribbles on Twitter – https://twitter.com/gloryannaboge Facebook – https://https://www.facebook.com/gloryannabogewriterand Instagram – hhttps://www.instagram.com/gloryannaboge_writer/a>

20 Comments

  • This is great perspective. It’s so frustrating that Mom’s, no matter what position we are in feel that need to defend ourselves.

  • Love this! I used to defend my decision to stay home with my daughters until I realized there was no point. I felt God was calling my to stay home full-time with my daughters and that was enough.

  • I agree! I think what it comes down to is for women themselves to recognize that the skills it takes to run a home and raise children are just as valuable as the skills it takes to be successful in the workforce. In promoting women in the workplace, we’ve somehow devalued homemaking and mothering as “mundane” or even oppressive. It truly takes a powerful woman to be a successful homemaker, just as it takes a powerful woman to be successful in her career. We should celebrate both!

  • I agree too! I always felt I needed to provide and “explanation” when I told people I stayed at home. My husband used to tell me to say “Just say you’re a mom”. I wish I had read this when I was home with my little people!

  • I will be leaving my career in a couple months when I have my first child in May. I totally agree with you. It feels like I have to justify my family’s decision, but I would also feel the need to do the same even if I was returning to my job. Society does not make this choice easy for us, unfortunately.

  • I kept my job after having kids but I totally agree with you! No matter what you choose, we are put in a position to defend ourselves from the get-go. Every mom works hard to do the best for our families and the the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” culture we have makes everything so much harder.

  • Beautiful post: I don’t have any children yet (because most people don’t count dogs as babies!) but this was so well written and thought out and inspiring!

  • Amen! My question to fathers is, if you choose to stay home rather than the mother, do you feel this same need to explain or defend?

  • I say that everyone has to make the choice for themselves and their family and we need to support one another instead of tear down.

  • As long as you’re comfortable in your decision, whether that’s staying home or working outside of the home, that’s all that matters in my book! There are benefits to both decisions.

  • This was such a hard transition for me too and I even suffered PPD after becoming a SAHM. I wanted to run away and go back to work! I had to stay home to watch my special needs child and it was a rough time of my life. Looking back, I’m so glad I did it because I now realize the value of being at home. I agree SAHM doesn’t fully explain what we do every. single. day.

  • I totally agree with this. I don’t think that we should label ourselves as mothers. We are all mothers whether we choose to stay home or go outside the home to work.

  • Yes yes yes, Gloryanna! This post totally resonates, because there really is SO much pressure on all moms to sort of explain themselves— almost like we’ve done something wrong in our decision to procreate. It’s definitely time for society to mind its own business and learn how to support the women of this world

  • Yes, mama, yes! I think we all find the need at times to explain ourselves in whatever decision we make. Love this post!

  • I also taught for several years before having my 1st and staying home. It was a HUGE adjustment and I had no idea how much it would affect my identity and change who I was. Luckily over time it gets easier and you start to feel like you kind of know what you’re doing!

  • Yes! Thank you so much! I hate the term SAHM because it implies that I don’t do anything all day when in reality I’m busier now than before when i worked 50 hours a week! Mommy’s need to end the wars and support each other no matter what!

  • I think the problem is society assume when you say you are at SAHM you do nothing all day. Well this is 2017 now. When people ask what do i do all day cos i am not working? I say I am a SAHB stay at home blogger cos i am a stay at home mum but I am also a blogger so reviews take a lot of time to be doing more than people realise unless they do same kind of work.