Something really interesting happened lately that has prompted quite a bit of discussion in our house. I was tagged by a lovely friend of mine on the following meme, which made me chuckle.
Not everyone saw the funny side though and the following conversation took place on my Facebook.
Now I’m not saying either of us is right or wrong and I’m certainly not criticising her for holding her opinion. But it did stay with me a bit and on a recent evening chat with hubs and a good friend I brought it up as part of a discussion about labels.
The trouble with the label of SAHM, or SAHD is that it implies that you stay at home all day, which let’s face it isn’t an accurate description, as just because we don’t work elsewhere doesn’t mean we stay at home all day. It brings with it connotations of laziness and an implication that we don’t do anything which is obviously not the case. As the lady above rightly says though, an alternative would be to be called unemployed, which doesn’t have the best connotations either.
So what would be a better label for a SAHM? My friend suggested full time mum, but then by comparison that suggests that working mums aren’t full time mums when of course they are. Going out to work doesn’t make you any less of a mum.
The conversation continued on and to the distinction of why there is even a label of working mum? You rarely call someone a working dad. A SAHD yes but there’s not label for working dad. My hubs is a dad but he is also a technical director.
The thing is though why do any of these labels matter? Why are we so defined by what we “do?” Generally when you meet someone new it is very common to ask or be asked “What do you do?” but why? Why is it so important to know what someone does so early on in forming an opinion of them. Your job may be a huge part of your character but it also may not. Your job doesn’t necessarily definitely e who you are. It certainly isn’t all that you are.
I’ve always hated being asked what I do, at all parts of my life, when I was a TV producer, when I was an estate agent, when I was a manager in a call centre for a concierge service for high net worth clients and now as a SAHM. Because whatever your answer may be you can see a judgement being made about you. About your wealth and status and honestly I really hate all that rubbish. None of it really matters, in my opinion, and they don’t equal who you are as a person.
I am a SAHM, yes, but that is not all that I am, which I guess is the point of the meme that started this off. I’m also a reader, a novice runner, a wannabe photographer, a lover of rock music. I’ve travelled the world, done a sky dive and a bungy jump and been white water rafting a few times. I have a degree in TV production and have been to Glastonbury 3 times. I love being with my family and right now raising my children is what is important to me and we are fortunate that we are in a position where I am able to do so. But being a SAHM right now shouldn’t have to define all that I am.
In the same way, my husband is a Technical Director. But that’s not all that he is. He is a loving daddy, who is hugely interested in politics and loves whisky. He loves to learn and likes science and experimenting. He is currently learning which red wines he prefers. He is also incredibly lucky to love his job and the business he helped to build, but he also hates when people ask what he does as they form an opinion based on what they think his job is.
This doesn’t just for for the labels for what you do work wise though, it’s all labels really. They pigeonhole us. Gay, straight, black, white, the label may describe a part of us but not all that we are. There is nothing wrong with embracing a label and being proud of it but I do wish it didn’t have to define us.
What do you think? Is is just a label and not something to be worried about, or does the label hold power?
Ooo that’s such a tough one. I ‘get away’ with it by saying I’m a farmer’s wife but really that has its own problems-like why can’t I call myself a farmer-I look after animals.
Unfortunately society has shaped our preconceptions on labels and whereas it was accepted for my mum to stay at home, it isn’t any more. I don’t know what the answer is but I do feel guilty sometimes speaking to mum’s who work telling them I stay at home but I sacrificed things to do so and for us, it was the right thing to do.
This echoes my thoughts entirely. I’m still on maternity leave and I’m undecided about returning to work but whatever I do will be what is in the best interests of our family and I think that choice should be respected. I had a friend refer to me as a lady of leisure the other day. I love being a mum but it’s hard work. I wouldn’t call being constantly on call a ‘lady of leisure’
This was a great read, and also is why I’m a bit scared of Facebook!
Sorry for the essay!
I wish it didn’t but your right it seems too. I hate labels. I loved the meme but its so sad that some of the comments you received was so negative. I don’t see myself as a SAHM either. Yes, i looked after my kids, but like you, we are hardly ever at home. I work (okay, from home) and pay bills, go the toilet (not alone) and eat too much cake like the next person. Why can’t we all just be equal? Why does what you do or how much you earn matter? Society tells us mums that we should be at home looking after our brood one minute then kick us in the shins for it the next! Can’t win! Great post!! #TwinklyTuesday
ooh I caused a stir! lol. Great post. Amazing how people differ on what they want to be called and labels. I don’t like SAHM much or working Mum. I am both for example so am I a part time MUm? It just doesn’t feel or seem right. Great post and definite food for thought. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst
This resonated – I also worked in TV production and hated telling people what I did for a living. I felt like there was a perception there over what my job was, people would often say how glamorous it was. I’m sure you would know that it’s not always that way! But also I suppose I hated that my job defined me, and I feel much the same with being a SAHM…this is what I have chosen to do, to be with my daughter, but there is so much more to be than just a mum! #bestandworst
Words have power so I think it does matter. I don’t have any problem with SAHM although when I was one, I sometimes used to say ‘I’m raising my son at the moment.’ Now this isn’t necessarily positive because it suggests mums that work (as I do now) are not raising their kids but for some reason it made it clearer to people – when I said SAHM I could see the words ‘Jeremy Kyle’ form in their brain. I actually like the term ‘homemaker’ because it includes people that are choosing not to work but do not have children, it does sound a bit 1950s though 🙂 #bestandworst
I really enjoyed this post. I love being a SAHM but with being only 23 I feel I do get judged quite heavily by this. I am fortunate to be able to stay at home with my daughter as my partners job allows me to do so, but I still dislike saying this is what I do because I feel it holds a lot of negativity, especially in recent years. That being said, I throughly love being a stay at home mum and the time I get with my daughter, being a parent whether working or not is a blessing in its own. Thanks for a great read! #bestandworst
Really interesting post – I do get annoyed when I see on Facebook people having their job title as full time mum. Because like you say, I am always a mum, even when I am at work! I can also see why the term SAHM would have connotations of sitting in front of JK all day! That said, I would totally be proud to call myself a stay at home mum! I’ll be on maternity leave in a couple of weeks so what will I then be? I’m still employed but I’ll be staying at home with my littlies! Confusing! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday
It is tough isn’t it. The truth is that there are a number of labels that are accurate, but no one label can sum up the entirety of who we are or our personalities. I am a mother, I am a daughter, I am an employee, I am a graduate, I am a blogger, I am artistic, I am a tax payer…for some reason though it is the single mother badge that people use most often to define me. I am a single mother, but I am so much more. SAHM doesn’t fit for you either. Pen x #thetruthabout
This was a really interesting read, and I’m sure that it will stay with me and make me think about the different labels that we use and the way those labels have different connotations. I have never been a SAHM, but I can imagine how people must look at you differently, either with envy (if they assume that you must be well off financially in order to be a SAHM) or with derision (if they are the sort of person who tends to judge people by their employment status) and that must be frustrating. But what else can you say if you are asked what you do? It is difficult to think of a better “job title,” so to speak. Homemaker sounds like someone who goes around dusting and fluffing up cushions all day, and full time mum seems to annoy everyone! #thetruthabout
I liked that meme – and yes the label is a frustrating one. You do get stay at home dads as well and the alternative “unemployed” is worse – it really does imply you are not doing anything at all. I wish there weren’t negative connotations with the label SAHM – it is hard work raising children and shaping and guiding them is one of the most important jobs there is. I used to find myself feeling like I had to justify my decision to become a SAHM with the excuse that my work pattern and hubby’s made childcare very difficult. That was true, but it was never really the reason I became a SAHM – if I’d wanted to go back to work, we would have found a way. I wanted to be at home with the children, and to have that time with them when they were little and I was very lucky to be able to take on a role within my husband’s company (he is also a technical director) which I could do from home. Technically that means I’m a work-at-home mum but that’s not usually how I identify myself either!
The thing is bringing up children is bloody hard work – if you are the one who is with them 24-7 then you have the longest working day, the most demanding day – I definitely go to work to escape some of that! Having said that if someone talks to me about what I do for work I talk about my paid job – I don’t say “I’m also a mum” which actually does define me quite a bit. It’s sad that society’s perception of the role of ‘mum’ (or ‘dad’ if you’re a ‘stay at home’ dad) is dismissive. People who don’t have children or who have grown up children and forgotten what it’s like to look after little ones can’t appreciate the full on nature of raising children. Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout with this X