Why I'm Ditching the Mom Labels
Mom labels. Yes, it's a thing. An unnecessary and inaccurate thing that I'm dropping from my vocabulary. There are SO MANY MOM LABELS. Stay-at-home mom (SAHM), working mom, work-at-home mom (WAHM), crunchy mom, cool mom, homeschooling mom, cloth-diapering mom, breastfeeding mom, bottle-feeding mom, soccer mom, hot mess mom, etc...the list goes on and on. Seriously, look it up. There are scores of labels that we attach to different types of moms. The first time I came across the term WAHM, I had to google it. I thought, "what's a WAHM? Sounds interesting!" Currently, I'm a stay-at-home mom; a mom who isn't employed outside the home. However, after much thought, I decided to forgo any type of existing mom label, and just simply call myself "mom," or "caregiver" to my two sons. But, you might ask, what for?
Maybe you're thinking, does it really matter what label we use (or don't use) for moms? Is it really causing any harm? Yes, I actually think it is. On the surface, maybe these labels don't seem like that big of a deal. Maybe it allows us to categorize different personalities of moms, types of parenting, or a moms employment status. Maybe it helps our brains make sense of our environment and who is in it. Maybe it helps us relate to others when we have a pre-existing label to go by. However, I've seen more conflict and strife between moms, as a result of these labels.
When my first son was born, three years ago, I followed a couple of parenting blogs (mainly articles about parenting and kids). I figured it'd be nice to get tips about napping, hear some funny stories about parenting, or read how other parent's deal with the difficult stuff. Most of the articles were interesting and entertaining, and it was nice to hear different perspectives on parenting. Especially when I was home with a newborn, and not the slightest clue what I was doing. But then I would scroll down to the comment section...and here's the problem. The comments suck you in like a bad habit. There was so much conflict, so many passive-aggressive comments, and overall nastiness towards other parents. The sad part? From where I sat, it seemed to be mostly women who were doing the attacking. And a lot of the debate seemed centered around the different types of mom labels. Here's a big one; the never-ending "mommy war" over employment status: the SAHM, WAHM, or working mom label.
After getting caught up in the comment sections for far too long, I decided I had seen enough. The comment section was depressing, made me irritated, and only served to make me question my parenting choices and my own mom "label." Not only that, the articles themselves were starting to get super focused on labels as well. For instance, I would read ten things not to say to a "crunchy, exercise, working mom," or what not to do around a "helicopter, free-range, SAHM." I know that's a bit of an exaggeration. But these labels seemed to serve one main purpose; to divide moms into groups and cause conflict, instead of allowing us to just see each other as a fellow mom, just a mom (with no label). A mom who is experiencing many of the same trials and tribulations as all the other moms out there. Instead of trying to debate which category of moms has it harder or which is better (newsflash: we're all trying our best), can't we just agree that parenting is tricky, and that everyone has stressful moments and days, just in different ways?
It wasn't just the comment boards though. It happens off the internet too. Comments have been made towards me in person (like how I was giving up my potential by becoming a SAHM). And I've heard plenty of other faulty assumptions about moms in the other categories as well. Don't get me wrong, I've heard good things too. The problem is that we're putting too much focus on a label without actually seeing the person behind it.
Plus (and this one really gets me), do we ever put labels in front of the word "dad?" Not nearly as much. I asked my husband if anyone had ever referred to him as a working dad, and i'm sure you can guess the answer (no). He is simply, dad. So, why all the labeling of moms? Stay-at-home dad's do have a label, and while I don't wish to speak for them as a group, I do know that they may face a lot of incorrect, unfair assumptions about their label as well. I applaud "SAHD's." I applaud "working dads." I applaud "SAHM's" and "working moms." I applaud "breastfeeding" moms and "bottle-feeding" moms. I applaud every parent who is trying their hardest and doing what they think is right for their own kids, regardless of their label.
It's time to switch it up, and stop the attachment to labels. Perhaps we could call "working moms" (don't all moms work?) by their actual title (accountant, cashier, engineer, custodian, teacher) and also "mom." Perhaps we could also call WAHM's by their title (Thirty-One consultant, photographer, small-business owner) and also "mom." Perhaps we could call SAHM's a primary caregiver, household manager, or residential coordinator (whatever suits your fancy). If people ask what I do, I'll tell them I'm the caregiver and mom, unlabeled mom, to my two sons. Not granola, cloth-diapering, SAHM. These titles are more accurate and don't lump people into generic labels that people already have so many pre-conceived notions about. Through my own personal journey, I've learned not to let labels bother me. I'm happy with my place in life. However, maybe with a little less labeling, there would be a little less conflict. And that's worth ditching the labels.