Courtesy of Danielle Campoamor

9 Reasons Why I Don't Like Being Labeled As A "Mom"

Ad failed to load

Up until a few years ago, I didn't want to be a mom. I had never wanted to experience pregnancy and I didn't envision having kids. Suddenly, my future plans changed and the idea of procreating with my partner didn't send shivers down my spine. When we found out we were pregnant, I decided I actually wanted to be pregnant and, at the end of that pregnancy, wanted to be a mom. Now I have a two year old son who is as wonderful as he is challenging. Still, I don't like being labeled as a "mom," and the reasons why I didn't want to be a mom all those years ago are why I dislike it when someone refers to me as a mom, and nothing but a mom.

Prior to becoming a mother, I bought into the idea that motherhood means the end of, well, everything else in a woman's life. I value my career, and thought that I couldn't continue to work and be a "good mother." I listened to our society tell women that they need to sacrifice every single aspect of themselves the moment they become a mother, so I decided motherhood wasn't for me. That decision changed, but the expectations of motherhood have remained and I'm not oblivious to them. Now that I'm a mom, people view me a particular way or think I should act a certain way or tell me that my son should be my entire "world." Now that I'm a mom, that's all I am to so many people, and the rest of my humanity feels erased or no longer significant.

It's not that I'm embarrassed to be a mother or don't love being a mother or regret my decision to be a mother. Not a single days goes by when I don't think that becoming a mother was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It's just not the only decision I have made, and it is not the only defining characteristic of my life. I am more than a mom, yet when someone calls me a "mom," my choice to procreate seems to be the only thing that gives my life any value. I disagree, and until our culture views and treats motherhood differently, I will continue to dislike being labeled "mom" for the following reasons:

Ad failed to load

It Becomes The Only Label I'm Known For


It seems like once a woman becomes a mom, that's all she is. Mom becomes her first name, and she is referred to as a "mom" before she's referred to as anything else. I don't work, I'm a "working mom." I don't just drink, I'm a "mom that drinks." I don't simply enjoy going out with friends, I'm a "fun mom."

Motherhood is not all that I am, but simply a specific aspect of who I am. Still, our culture seems hell-bent on defining women by whether or not they reproduce, so when I'm labeled a "mom," it seems to overpower every other part of my existence, to the point that the other facets of my life or personality no longer exist.

It Suggests Motherhood Is My Only Accomplishment...


I don't view motherhood as an accomplishment. Honestly, I did very little to become a mom. My pregnancy wasn't something I had to focus on or think about in order to have happen; my body simply did what it did and I was along for the ride. Yes, I birthed another human being but, again, my body did most of the work (and I had help in the form or doctors and nurses and a supportive partner). While I don't want to downplay how miraculous pregnancy, labor and delivery truly are, or how powerful women are in general, motherhood is more of a choice than an accomplishment, and one I happened to make, for me.

Still, society seems to view motherhood as some box women should be checking off on the list of "life goals." It makes women who don't want children (or can't have children) feel less than or lacking, and it makes the women who do decide to have children feel like reproducing is all they have to offer the world. I can do more than birth babies; so much more. In fact, I have done so much more, yet motherhood seems to be what I am most known for, now, or the thing I should take the most pride in. Mothers feel this silent pressure to claim their children as the "best thing they've ever done," downplaying every other miraculous thing those mothers have done.

...And It Re-Defines Everything Else I Accomplish


Now that I'm a mom, it seems that every other accomplishment I make is somehow tied to motherhood. In fact, I've had people tell me that I'm not a writer, I'm a mom that writes occasionally. I'm not a worker, I'm a mom who works. Mothers who start their own businesses aren't entrepreneurs, they're mompreneurs. Motherhood becomes the one "accomplishment" that defines any and all further accomplishments, and it's the most frustrating.

And, of course, there are products marketed specifically to mothers, to help them accomplish "mom things." It seems that any woman who made the choice to have children can't do anything without "mom" being attached or associated to it. There's not a single life choice that seems to overpower someone's entire existence the way motherhood does.

Ad failed to load

It Reinforces Certain Stereotypes


Motherhood is what you make it, and I in no way think that being a mother means you're not a feminist or can't be pro-choice or you can't be a progressive woman that fights for gender equality. However, our society has certain expectations for motherhood and they're, sadly, heavy with stereotypes and sexism. If you're a mother, you're supposed to sacrifice every single part of your existence for your children. If you're a mother, you shouldn't work but you should do more than just sit at home with your children. If you're a mother, you need to cook and clean and eat organic food from your extensive garden and dedicate your entire life to your family.

I can't help but feel the weight of those stereotypes and expectations every time someone refers to me as a mother, especially when that's all they refer to me as.

It's Used As A Reason Why I Do Something...


Recently, I was watching the women's gymnastics team compete at the Rio Olympics, which meant I was listening to commentators critique the performances. The one woman commentator started getting emotional at the end of an event, and quickly said, "Maybe it's because I'm a mother now, but I'm getting teary eyed." I couldn't help but shake my head. Why would a woman becoming emotional be the result of motherhood, and motherhood alone? Are moms innately more emotional because they're moms? Why can't a woman be emotional simply because she's a human being, and human beings are emotional beings.

I hear these statements on a regular basis. I'm worried, because I'm a mother. I'm forgetful, because I'm a mother. I'm so exhausted, because I'm a mother. Yes, motherhood can result in all of those feelings, but so can, you know, life. Someone doesn't have to be a parent for them to be worried or forgetful or exhausted, yet it seems that when a woman becomes a mother, motherhood is the reason why she feels anything. Ever.

...Or A Reason Why I Don't Do Something


Simultaneously, people automatically assume that I won't be able to do something (or don't want to do something) because I'm a mother. Oh, you're a mom, so there's no way you would want to go to Vegas or travel or go out late on a Friday night. Oh, you're a mother, so you probably wouldn't want to wear that or listen to this or watch that one movie. It seems trivial, but having certain choices taken away from me, simply because our culture has a narrow view of what it means to be a mother or what a mother looks like, is infuriating.

For example, when I fight and argue for reproductive rights, I can't tell you how many people say, "But, you're a mother. How could you possibly advocate for safe and affordable abortions," as if choosing motherhood for yourself automatically means you believe everyone should be a mother.

Ad failed to load

It De-Humanizes Me


Mothers are seen as almost super-human, and it's not a good thing. Even when we call mothers superheroes as a way to honor them, we're simultaneously saying that they don't have very real, very human needs. We do. I do.

I get tired, just like anyone else. I get exhausted and frustrated and scared and I feel a relentless amount of self-doubt, just like anyone else. Motherhood seems to stifle those feelings, though, or at the very least make me feel guilty for having them. I am not a martyr, and I am not going to kill myself or sacrifice my mental health in the name of motherhood. Still, that's what's expected of me, and all women, the moment they decide to and successfully reproduce.

It De-Sexualizes Me


Our culture doesn't allow mothers to be sexy (unless it's in a hilarious, comical way) which is ridiculous, because every mother has (probably) had sex. Still, now that I'm a mom I'm supposed to have that "mom haircut" and wear those "mom jeans," which are never meant to be flattering. I don't even have a body, I have a "mom body."

To society, motherhood means I am not allowed to express my sexuality because, well, "think of the kids." I'm someone's mom now, and I'm supposed to "act like it," whatever that means.

It Makes My Kid Responsible For My Happiness


This is arguably the most significant reason why I push against the "mom" label and what it represents. In our society, motherhood means that I live my entire life for my kid which, in turn, makes my kid my entire "world." That puts an incredible amount of pressure on my son to live his life for me, too. Instead of going into the world and living his own life and making his own decisions for and by himself, he should stick around because "mom lives her life for him." I never, ever want my son to feel like I will be devastated if and when he leaves. I never want him to prioritize my happiness over his own. He doesn't "owe" me anything for the choice I made in having him. It was my decision, not his. I am not responsible for his accomplishments, he is. I am not going to make him responsible for my legacy, that's my job and my job alone. I am not going to live my life entirely for him because, in the end, I do not want my son to live his life entirely for me.

Motherhood is a big part of my life, yes, but it is not the only part. It is not the only thing that defines me and it most certainly isn't the only "accomplishment" I am capable of or the only contribution I can make to the world and the people in it. I absolutely love being someone's mom, but I am more than just someone's mom, too.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik