Monday, February 23

SAHM

Apparently, I'm a Stay At Home Mother.

I dislike this term. Not like in a big huge way or anything, just don't use it for myself. Like, I'm a housewife. Well, I'm married yes. I live in a house.....

It implies, to my ears, someone who does little more than change diapers and play row-row-row-your-boat all day long.

And you all know how I feel about the 'what do you do?' question. So when I'm asked what I do, I refuse to give an answer that pigeon holes me into anything. Now, I no longer work for cash, but I'm not just a mother who stays at home. In fact, I enjoy going for long walks in nature, which is outside. ahem

To the question, 'what are you?', I answer, I'm a mother, crafter, herbalist, nomad, bookwhoreworm....... you see where I'm going with this?

And I'm not talking just about women who feel strongly that they are much more than just mothers, I'm also referring to mothers who relish their role as mother. Who find fulfillment in mothering's every day tasks.

How do you feel about that term, sahm? What's the alternative? FSTSSIWC? (freespirit that sometimes stays indoors with child)

16 comments:

  1. Thanks Tara for letting me know about the comments issue, weird. Have disabled word ver. for now.

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  2. Hi! Just found YOUR blog, from the comment you posted on mine. I'm still working on my "term" for SAHM-hood. :) I'm sure it will come up in the blog again. Just wanted to say hi.

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  3. I certainly have issues with the term SAHM, and 'housewife', well I feel that just needs to go, it doesn't even work on an ironic level.

    In my peer group I suppose these terms are considered pejoratives, because they have such connotations with a reactionary concept of female confinement within a domestic sphere, (very 1950's), but also because they are quite diminishing due to our accumulated cultural baggage with those terms. Limited terms that don't accurately convey the reality.

    Some of us tend to refer to 'home-based work/activites' or as a catch-all for activities (both child-related or not) that a number of us engage in, and as a phrase that the outside world can comprehend, but not readily define or categorise. It remains ambiguous enough to suggest a range of activities/roles. Everything from graphic designer, to student, to mother, academic...

    But it's more than work or what we 'do' isn't it? It's life, and living a whole picture with a multifaceted sense of who we are, rather than just a fragment reflecting our social roles, and constructed identity/ies. Similarly limiting are some of the professional identities (outside the home) people are pigeonholed with, and their accompanying stereotypes.

    Sorry. That's a ramble.

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  4. I spent 9 years at home with my three kids when they were young. During that time I helped develop a local mental health voluntary group, ran a mother and toddler's group, monitored health services from the viewpoint of the consumer, chairing both the main council and two sub-groups, became a Mental Health Act Manager to decide whether detained patients should be released back into the community, chaired a regional mental health group, organised a choir with 4-part harmony and performed 4 fund-raising concerts. I also sang in a local choir and was part of their performances each year and built up a piano teaching practice. I was paid to do a 6-month research projct for the local health authority auditing terminal care facilities and taught an introduction to mental health services module at a neighbouring adult education centre. It amazes me now how much knitting and sewing I did during those years. I can't remember trying to define myself with a title. I remember people being confused if I tried to explain what I was currently doing, but that's normal as it still happens. I have one acquaintance who regularly asks me if I'm still working for the mental health charity when I was never employed, only sat on the committee.

    As Docwitch has said, we are the sum of our parts and our social legacy, rather than a reflection of someone else's or our own definition.

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  5. "female confinement", good point Doc. And I think some mothers want to reclaim the term to place it in a positive light. I equate this to black people eclaiming 'nigger'. Ok, not as emotive, but also counter-productive.

    sarah - My fave part, "It amazes me now how much knitting and sewing I did during those years." yeah baby!

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  6. Swedish Jenn24 February, 2009

    "So what do you do?" "I'm a mother," would be my response. In fact, even though I work a conventional job, I think I will try to start with that from now on. The whole "stay-at-home" thing does have a negative connotation doesn't it? Though as a MOTHER who also holds a job outside of parenting (from home though..yay!), I am envious of those who can afford (not just financially) to parent full-time. But as Sarah mentions, I don't know many who do JUST that. In fact, one of my best friends here in Sweden is heavily involved in her kids' schools and sporting events not to mention running a MONSTER of a household and looking after her big kid, her husband. And she relishes her role. Her and her hubby made an agreement from the beginning that she would look after family and home and he would pay for it. She hasn't looked back. And here in Sweden, where everything is SO equal between the sexes, she stands out but proudly. Personally, I think I would've fit in nicely in the 50s as I enjoy being a wife and mother in the traditional sense. I don't mind doing all the chores, making the meals and being the primary caregiver (for the most part). I can't imagine going out to dinner and splitting a check, not having a door opened for me or handing over the laundry for my husband to do. But people-watching in Sweden has men and women sharing everything equally. And it's funny because I grew up in a household where, as the years went on, my Dad helped out more and more. He's at the point now where HE does the dishes, vacuums, etc. though I must admit, I need to put my hand up more often because a woman who works a job and is a Mom/wife can't do it all.

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  7. i am a SAHM but we rarely stay at home... i would prefer OAAM (out and about mom)... i love telling people i am a sahm. HOwever i hate when woman say "I am just a SAHM!" like "I am just the maid" or something....

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  8. I don't mind SAHM (although I am kind of WAHM) but I am constantly amazed at the things people project onto me when they find out I am home. At my kid's preschool it's like a badge of honor to some of the moms - they almost seem to look down their noses at the working moms. Then on the other hand, at my DHs recent work Xmas party, I was at a table with all working couples and when they found out I was home, I saw myself drop several notches in their esteem, and they were not interested in a single thing I had to say the rest of the night. It was like I had lost my mind or something when I decided to stay home with the kids. Since I tend to secretly think I am smarter than everyone else it mostly amused me (when are you doing the shadow of arrogance??:-)

    The whole WM/SAHM/WAHM thing is just so strange.

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  9. I'm with mommymystic on all points. I have even described myself as one in my blog introduction lol. Although it is not the sum of me, it is what I consider my main soul/ physical work right now and what I end up writing on forms, etc when asked.

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  10. I also dislike the term stay-at-home mom. I feel SO blessed that I am able to stay at home with my kids, but I completely agree with not wanting to be "labeled." Even before I had kids, I hated the question "What do you do?" There is so much more to all of us than just one thing we "do." I love to play with my girls, to write, to draw, to read, to learn, to bake... and that's just today. We are all so complex and amazing. The question we should ask when we meet someone new is "What do you enjoy doing?"

    Wendy

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  11. Hi Mon. I've followed you over to yours after your lovely comments on my fledgeling effort. Thanks! I LOVE your blog. I could easily get lost in it for days.

    Re SAHM. I agree wholeheartedly with the comments above. Not a Mum yet, but I get frustrated and angry at how limited the term is. I've seen many women, when faced with the "So, what do you do?" um and ahh, and use the word 'just', as Mojavi pointed out. "Just a mother, at home". Still a lot of work to do to reclaim a sense of value in the so-called private sphere.

    FSTSSIWC is perfect!

    I feel quite heartened after finding your blog and reading a few of your beautiful posts about motherhood (and people's comments). I know when it's my turn, there'll be such a nourishing support network and vital resource to tap into when I need it.

    thanks again.

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  12. Well, at least we're not like the poor dads, who are evidently feeling SAHD. And if we wanted to include all kinds of parents, then we'd be complete SAHPs. :-)

    One time in a legal proceeding I had to declare my occupation. I leaned into the microphone and said loud and clear, "Mother."

    That word "just" sure deflates things, eh? Like, I'm just a mother, i.e., I do less important work than others!

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  13. LOL.. I love this post. Instead of asking another mother "what do you do for a living or do you stay at home." I simply ask "Do do you work inside the home or outside of the home." Its not offensive and it shows immediate appreciation for what she does. I've been asked before..."Do you work or just stay at home?" oooo that burns me. Being a mother is waaaaay more difficult than any labeled job or task.

    Oh by the way, thank you for visiting my blog. To answer your question about that Baby signing...I have a book at home called baby sign language. Im trying not to overwhelm her with too much information...so we are taking baby steps in the process. You are welcome to follow my videos and post your progress...I would love to hear your story. I love this blog of yours...so warm and crunchy :) HUGS

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  14. It was hard in the first few years to resolve that for me. I was indeed working from home, but I felt that I was diminishing my role as a mother by saying, oh, but I work at home, I have a business. Like the mom part wasn't important - and we all know it is. SOooo. Now after a few years I have a whole online moms community, manage a website for moms, and do a bit in the community and am often interviewed for articles. I usually say I'm an artist and a mom, and don't mention any of my 'work'. But of course I don't say I'm a SAHM, WAHM, or anything. I'm a mom. :)

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  15. oh no Anthromama! poor dads and parents! lol

    Welcome sol y luna and nice to see you stop by bundleboomama.

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  16. Hey there, just popping in for the first time.
    I hear what you're saying about SAHM (believe me they seem to relish in it over in America) but to be truthful I don't mind what people call me, as long as I am happy in the role I have that's just fine and dandy with me!

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