Mom labels: Why I hate them

If I had a nickle for every time someone congratulated me on becoming a stay at home mom, I could make a living wage and consider myself a work at home mom, collecting interest from my funds.

Okay, I kid.

But really, people seem to be very excited about this! And I am too. But I can’t help but feel a slight urge to correct someone when they call me that.

Most of the time I let it go. Cause really, I was in the office a whopping 15 hours this week. Five of which included having my kids there with me. It’s quite the shift, just a third of the time I’d normally spend there. But it was three days in the office, and another day and a half I was working on a freelance project from home. I don’t really feel like a stay at home mom. And even if I was exactly what people call a SAHM, it sorta implies I never leave the house.

Does acknowledging the term brand me into a category of mothering?

mom labels

I love wearing my babies, and talk about it all the time, but you’ll rarely (if ever) catch me calling myself a “babywearer” or “babywearing mom.”

If you asked me if I’m a stay at home mom I guess I’d say yes. But I’d probably say yes if you asked if I was a work at home mom, or a work outside the home mom. If you were to ask me what I “do” I’d probably say I’m a freelance reporter, assuming you mean for money. But please don’t make me choose a four letter acronym to define myself. I’m so much more than that. We all are.

I have friends who are concert pianists, have landed record deals, won Emmy’s, baking awards, have degrees, know sign language, and teach yoga… All extraordinary mothers who shouldn’t be confined to such an ordinary phrase.–As if you’re putting a period at the end of a simplified definition of ourselves. I prefer an ellipses.

Get to know me.

And trust me… You can’t fit all this *hands hourglassing down my waistline* in an acronym.

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shelly says:

I like your take on this. We shouldn’t put ourselves into a little box or judge each other about what we choose to do at home or away from home.

It seems pretty elementary right? I agree!

Mari Corona says:

Thank you for this share. I am so confused as to why everything and everyone has to fit some sort of label. As if you are not one or the other you are lost in the crowd.

Exactly. I think maybe it makes things easier for identifying with others, but I think I’d connect, or not connect with someone for a hundred other reasons other than work-status.

Latonya says:

I love this! I despise labels. I prefer to be given the opportunity to just live to not be placed in a box. Thanks for your thoughts!

Tina says:

I really liked this post. I find myself putting me in a box, just as much (or more) than others. You are right, no single acronym or label can fully describe any human being, and if we try to fit into a single idea we disservice ourselves (or limit others if we’re doing it to someone else).

Yes– there is so much more to mom’s these days! I may be at home, but I am a busy woman!

Bravo. I fall into this trap quite frequently. I am a stay-at-home mom and homemaker, and call myself such, but there is definitely an antiquated and negative association with that label. Mainly the image of kicking back with a Cosmo and daytime TV. I think we as humans just generally feel better being able to label and box and categorize, and we should be more open minded. You hit the nail on the head: get to know me.

Trish says:

Yes! I hate when people ask me what I do. The first thing I want to say is that I stay home with my kids. Then I’m like… well… I also homeschool my youngest, and take care of a toddler, and blog, and dabble in graphic design, plus I have scrapbooking commitments, not to mention cleaning, cooking, and having to take care of two other kids after school. But yeah, no one pays me (often) to do any of that. lol

I may be falling into this trap of labeling right now, but I wouldn’t even consider you a SAHM. It doesn’t really make sense for someone to consider you one.

Erin says:

I hate that labeling moms is becoming more and more common. I’ve been both a full time working mom and now I stay home full time with my 2 girls. Both are hard, yet both are so so rewarding. I’ve been congratulated as well for FINALLY getting to stay home with my girls. Although I love being home with my girls, there is so much more to me than “mom” status. I still want to further my education, become a fitness instructor, travel, etc. Thank you so much for this!!

Carol says:

I bumped into a former co-worker who asked me if I still worked with the company. I said no, and he replied, “Oh, you’re a housewife now.” Ugh! Shudder! I was polite and simply smiled and nodded, but I despise that term! I don’t like labels either — SAHM, WAHM, whatever. But giving it a label, I think, is how society turns it into a career. So much of society today, it seems, is wrapped up around careers. One of the first things people ask you when they meet is, “What do you do?” Meaning “What’s your job?” Reply, “I take care of my kids,” and people group you into the category of SAHM. That’s your career choice, even though it doesn’t describe everything you do (and sometimes wrongly evokes images of the previously mentioned Cosmo drinker-couch surfer). And sad to say, taking care of the kids doesn’t get as much respect as saying, “I’m the super big CEO/president/sultan of this company.” I think that needs to change.

You’re right, it doesn’t get as much respect, but anyone who’s been there, done that, gets its challenges. Thanks for sharing!

Amen! Thank you! I feel so annoyed by the hipster terms and the weird expectations… oh you don’t wear your baby? You don’t wear your baby and nurse? You don’t wear your baby while nursing and climbing mountains?

I love staying at home with my sweet baby girl and I definitely am not sitting on my thumbs all day watching Soaps and eating chocolates.

Haha! Yes, there are many hip mom terms. I’m just not hip enough for any of them.

Erika says:

One second, Moms want kudos for the ability to spend more time at home. The next second, you don’t want to be pigeonholed. Who cares what people think about what you do? All that matters is you’re doing what’s best for you and your family.

I don’t think there’s a single person who can be described with one simple label.

My point exactly. Though I don’t think kudos are necessary for one particular situation. Whatever floats your boat.

Mrs. K says:

I hate the labels too. It’s already so challenging balancing self, being a wife, being a mom, and maintaining relationships with extended family and friends. I don’t know why us women create more challenges for ourselves. I think the labels contribute to the divide instead of uniting and lending support to each other as women.

Absolutely true! I think it’s just a way for those with no children (or sometimes just men) to make sense of what it is we do. But true, there is just no way to fit into one label, I probably fit a couple of dozen and none at 100%! 🙂 I work from home 30 hours and sometimes call myself a WAHM, but then I get annoyed when people assume I’m JUST a fill-in-the-blank-with-low-paying-freelance-or-slaving-job, people assume that working from home means doing a lot for little money. It’s sort of a stereotype and then I try to explain that I run three businesses and work for myself only. Fun to see their eyes open wide and hear them say something like “You do all that AND homeschool?!” and then either silence or a waterfall of questions. There are so many roles moms fill, most people just have no clue – unless you’re in the same boat 🙂

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget


I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.

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