8 Reasons I Can’t Get Behind The Term “Working Mom”
The moment I realized I was pregnant and decided I wanted to be a mother, I started asking myself a slew of questions. Did I want a hospital birth or a home birth? Would I need to move to a bigger place to make room for the baby? Would I co-sleep or sleep train? The questions were endless. One thing I knew for sure, however, was that I would continue working. Sadly, that meant I would be labeled a "working mom," but there are so many reasons why I can't behind the term "working mom" in any capacity; reasons that, to this day, make me cringe and shake my head.
I love my job. My career is an important part of who I am and a great source of personal pride, fulfillment and exciting challenges that fill me with a sense of immense purpose. I also love my son, and consider him to be another source of personal pride, fulfillment, and exciting challenges that fill me with a sense of immense purpose. I have felt all of the aforementioned in so many aspects of my life, too; my romantic relationships, my friendships, the relationship I have and share with my mother. The list goes on and on. Like every other part of my life, motherhood was a choice that I made for myself. It isn't, however, the only reason I am who I am, nor is it a reason to erase the other parts of me that I so very much love and enjoy and spend time cultivating. That's what happens, however, when society deems it necessary to attach the word "mom" to everything else that I do. Somehow "mom" becomes the most important aspect of my life. It's important, yes. Vital. Monumental. However, it's not the most important. The romantic relationship I share with my parenting partner and the father of my son, for example, is extremely important. My friendships — the relationships that have existed long before I met my partner and birthed my son — are extremely important. Those aspects of my life aren't attached to my choice to have a career, so why should motherhood be?
This is just one of many reasons why I can't get behind the term "working mom." It's why I would be the most happy if we just dropped "mom" from so many other life choices women make. Women who have children and start their own businesses aren't "mompreneurs," they're just entrepreneurs who also happen to have kids. Mothers who write aren't "mommy bloggers," they're just women who blog and also care for another human being. Women can be more than one thing, and even simultaneously, I assure you. So, with that in mind, here are just a few more reasons I think the collective "we" can just do away with "working mom," altogether:
Because Every Mom "Works"
When the term "working mom" is applied to a mother who works outside the home, it's automatically implied that mothers who don't work outside of the home, don't work at all. False.
Every mom works. Now, does every mom get paid for that work? No, probably not. However, "payment" is not an indication that work is or isn't happening. I know plenty of people who get paid twice a week, and I would hardly call what they do "work." I know plenty of mothers who cook and clean and raise multiple children and support their partners, and while they don't get a paycheck every pay period, there's no doubt they're working their ass off.
Because Every Other Aspect Of My Life Isn't A Quantifier...
I have yet to understand why the word "mom" needs to be attached to everything I do. If I go out, it's a "mom's night out." If I am working, I'm a "working mom." If I'm single, I'm a "single mom." Ugh. Why? Society doesn't seem hellbent on doing that with any other characteristic a woman may or may not have or call her own.
Quantifying a woman's life by constantly reminding her and the people around her that she has procreated, sends the message that a woman is only valuable if she has children. Yeah, that's a negative. Being a mother is not the end-all-be-all of womanhood, nor is it necessary in order to be respected or deemed "worthy" as a woman or a human being. It's a life choice, nothing more.
...Which Is Why I'm Not A "Working Girlfriend..."
Currently, I have a parenting partner and while we're not married (and don't plan on ever being married) we are committed to one another and raising our son together.
So, I'm someone's girlfriend.
Not a single person has ever called me a "working girlfriend." If I'm going to be called a working mom, why not just attach the fact that I work to every other part of my life, right? The romantic relationship I share with my partner is just as important as the relationship I have with my son. In fact, if it wasn't for my partner, my son wouldn't be here.
...Or A "Working Daughter"
My mother is my very best friend, and the constant port in the storm that is my life. I have always turned to her, and consider her an important family member I'm not sure I could function (at least, in a healthy way) without. Why am I not called a "working daughter," then?
That's why the term "working mom" is so ridiculous (to me, of course). If I'm going to be a working mom, then I might as well be a working girlfriend, a working daughter, a working sister, a working best friend, and a working whatever-else I am to other people in and around my life, right?
It Sets Motherhood Up To Erase Every Other Aspect Of My Humanity
While the birth of my son definitely altered my life in an number of marvelous and challenging ways, it wasn't a cataclysmic shift that rearranged DNA strands or suddenly transformed me into a completely different person. I am still me. I am still the same human being, I am just responsible for another human being.
However, now that I've procreated, society seems pretty damn determined to label me as a mother and nothing else. Every other part of what makes me, me, is erased or stripped down or denied, because I'm a mom now and being a mom means I sacrifice absolutely everything for the betterment of my child. Nope. I don't think so.
I am still a complicated, complex person, so attaching mom to the things I do only works as a disservice to who I really, and truly am. Yes, I am a mom, but I so much more than just a mom.
It Works To Downplay Everything Stay-At-Home Moms Do
I've never been a stay-at-home mom, so I don't know what it's like and I can't speak to that experience. However, I know plenty of stay-at-home moms, and they've talked to me both privately and publicly (via the wonder that is social media) about how embarrassed or less than or simply shitty they feel when someone asks them if they're a "working mother" or not.
Honestly, women can't win and there are very few scenarios where our culture has made it possible to feel like you're not failing at something. If you're a mom, you need to be focusing on your kid every hour of every day, but you should also be working because what kind of a woman are you if you just stay at home all day? If you're a stay-at-home mom, you're lazy, but if you're a "working mom," you're selfish.
Again, "mom" is attached to all these life decisions as a way to try and decipher if a woman is "good" at taking care of another human being or not. It's ridiculous and it's unnecessary.
I Don't Need To Attach "Mom" To Everything I Do...
I didn't choose to be a mother for self-validation, so I don't need the word "mom" attached to everything I do in order to feel validated in my life choice to reproduce. There's just no need.
Yes, I am a mom. I am also a coworker and a writer and a daughter and a girlfriend and a sister and a best friend and the biggest The Office fan you'll ever meet and a feminist and a lover of all things Fall and so many other things that make me the complicated person I am. I don't need to put "mom" at the top of the list, just because that is what society has arbitraritly decided women should do. Mom is part of who I am, but it is, in fact, just a part.
...In Order To Be A "Good Mom"
Honestly, I blame our society for this one. Our culture is constantly forcing mothers to try and prove that they are, in fact, good mothers. It's a palpable, stressful-yet-silent burden that every mom feels the moment they bring their child into the world (and sometimes even before their child is born). I'm sure, as a result of this endless need to prove that we can take care of another human being, attaching the word "mom" to everything was a way of saying, "Hey, even though we're doing other things that aren't directly related to the care of our child, we're still thinking of our child and worried about our child because we're good mothers, I promise."
No one calls my partner a working dad. No one attaches "dad" to everything he does, as a way to validate his life choice or as a means of quickly identifying him as someone who has procreated or as a way to force him to prove that he is, in fact, a good dad.
I don't need to remind anyone that I'm a mom in order to be a good mom. I don't have to constantly be labeled mom, in order to prove that I love being a mom.