3-D Mommy

Finally, a night away from the kids; a night among adults with adult conversation and the fact that it is a room full of strangers from your husbands work will not take away from the reality that no one was going to yell your name and “I’m done” from the bathroom. So you smile, laugh and pretend to be interested. As the conversation turns to work a lady turns her attention to you and says, “What do you do?” Then it happens, that dreaded one-liner that gives an ankle-deep definition of women. The line that should be politically incorrect for one to call another that rears children,“I am a stay at home mom.”

Most of us are guilty of planting this one-liner in the heads of our conversatee making nothing sprout but weeds of implications. Thoughts of us stuck indoors wiping faces, noses and other body parts – cooking and cleaning all the while whistling a tune as we eagerly await our husband’s arrival. O.K., yes, we wipe plenty of things throughout our day but should that define who we are?  Is there a one-lined definition that would tell the world that we are not only mothers but also women who have dreams, passions and ambitions that extend beyond our home and children?

There are some existing definitions that are being planted and pollinated as the counter part of stay-at-home mom, for example, Domestic Goddess. (Cue the dry heaving) Whoever came up with this phrase felt that they had to make their vocation sound more glamorous. Calling ourselves Domestic Goddesses is adding crabgrass to the weeds of implications. The definition of Domestic Goddess is as follows: A women who stays full-time with her children but is embarrassed that her work doesn’t allow for glamour, thus, crafting a title that creates an illusion of heightened meaning. So, maybe this isn’t Webster’s definition but this is what it implies. I don’t want to be called a stay-at-home mom, Domestic Goddess or homemaker because that is not who I am – it is only part of what I do.

In her book, Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, Meghan Daum writes: “Before that [Fair Housing Act of 1968] any women signing escrow papers was presumed to be doing so with her husband. Even then, several real estate brokers have told me, she often had to get a ‘pill letter’ from her doctor verifying that she was on birth control and therefore wouldn’t get pregnant, quit her job and, lose the income on which the granting of the loan was based.” Just because the Fair Housing Act was passed doesn’t mean the world (including us moms) stopped thinking that motherhood equals isolated despair. In order for others to look past the food stains, frazzled hair and sleep deprived state we must live by our own definition. We can’t let the Stepford Wives and the childless wonders of the world guilt us into believing that there is only one definition for a stay-at-home mom and that’s, children.

Remember what you used to say as a child when asked what you wanted to be when you grew up and go after that dream. Rekindle a passion or find something you love to do and do it. Find your after-home activity and make it a part of what defines you. So, what is the definition that is going to get you out of the weeds? Or did having children really condemn us to a life entangled in the vines? We can’t allow the paths the women before us fought to clear to grow over with our one-dimensional definitions and the thinking that staying home with our children means putting dreams on hold. To get out of the weeds we must clear our own paths. Discover the other two-dimensions behind the mother so that the next time someone asks what you do you can say, “I am a writer with three children,” but that’s my definition go get your own.

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mecarol
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 15:47:42

    I have not yet been able to define myself. Not before children and not after. I’ll figure it out eventually; until then, I’m having fun.

    Reply

  2. Wendy Irene (Give Love Create Happiness)
    Aug 31, 2010 @ 04:43:57

    …and running a website and using your creativity! Pretty awesome!

    Reply

  3. Rhonda Burkhalter
    Aug 31, 2010 @ 17:16:05

    I am a photographer, cake decorator, blogger, scrapbook enthusiast, and music lover. Those are things I love to do when I’m not being a SAHM. I get annoyed at those who scoff and say, “I wish I could stay at home and watch TV all day/clean/play-fill in the blank with some other useless remark.” It’s not like that at all. I’m not complaining about the opportunity to raise my kids. I would much rather them be like me than someone at a daycare. Running a household takes no less organization and planning than a project at a company. The only difference is, our project is never complete. It is an on going, ever changing scope. I hesitate to divulge my “occupation” during a discussion like that because it never goes well. As soon as you let on that you are a SAHM, you suddenly drop down the rungs of the ladder and have no way of climbing back up. Men don’t tend to have the same reaction as women. The women are the ones who usually find what you do less than simply because they work outside the home and take care of home too. I’ve been on both sides of the coin.

    Reply

  4. Torie Combest
    Aug 31, 2010 @ 19:53:52

    Rhonda,

    I tend not to offer the information that I stay home when in the presence of other working women. Maybe it is my own insecurities or the way they look at me or that they will think I cannot carry on an intellectual conversation because my vocabulary doesn’t extend past potty training. I believe there is a real need to redefine the stay-at-home mom persona.

    When I am around adults, I want adult conversation. I don’t want to talk about my kids the whole time – I have more to offer than that. I love history, writing, reading and Appalachian heritage – there are numerous subjects I could talk about but everyone seems to think that I want to talk kids.

    I too am grateful for being able to participate in so many of my children’s activities and being able to drop everything to get them when they are sick but there is a person behind those three children who would like a life as well.

    Thank you for commenting and hope you keep coming back.

    Reply

  5. L. Eleana
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 04:28:06

    “I’m a freelance writer, recovering attorney, wife, mommy, tweeter, and fixer of all things that go wrong”… ha! I’d worked on this before, but think I will start using the “recovering” thingy I added here. I really hate all the titles. I really hate that until I say I’m an attorney that people feel like I’m worth nothing, especially since I want to do something else with my life, WRITE. I feel like this is the life I chose, to take care of my girls in the early years for as long as I can, is that so bad? Is being a sahm such a bad thing?

    Visiting you from Twittermoms “Freelance Writing Mamas”.

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 03, 2010 @ 22:11:41

      L. Eleana,

      Thanks for visiting. Being a writer alone sometimes gets you strange looks and snide comments but staying at home with your children and writing is a whole other blog. We are not going to be fully happy in our lives if we don’t do something we love, so continue to write and let me know how things are going.

      Thanks again.

      Reply

  6. Scarlet
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 16:05:28

    As long as we are following our dreams whatever those may be, it is all good. For some being a stay at home mother is their dream, for others they dream of accomplishing more while being a stay at home mom. I am enjoying the process and finding that I often find myself doing something rather than dreaming of anything and I am happy doing that as long as I am doing it really well!

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 03, 2010 @ 22:06:23

      Scarlet,

      You are so right. Some women are fulfilled with being a stay-at-home mom and some of us need more. Either way we should always do what we love. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  7. Kathy
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 16:45:44

    What a great post. I totally feel you on the stay at home mom thing. As soon as I say it to someone I see their gears turning thinking I do nothing but sit on the couch all day. Or I am the perfect little house wive. I have to work on my new title. Or maybe I will just say next time I am still working on being a super hero and am learning how to fly. Then I will whip out my cape :-).

    Reply

  8. Tomica
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 15:42:42

    I understand completely. I quit my job as an accountant last year to work from home. No one understands that though I’m home, I still work. My mom keeps saying when are you going to get another job. I just stare. I love to write and will continue to write until I feel the need to stop. It fulfills me and helps to pay the bills around here too.

    Thanks for the follow. Feel free to stop by http://www.joyofgivingbirth.ning.com

    Reply

  9. Ramblings of a Woman
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 20:28:22

    I am at an odd place in my life. My kids are basically grown, 17-28. The 17 and 19 still at home, but the 19 year old boy is getting ready to have a baby of his own. She will live with her mom and grandma, but we will be very involved. I was an at at-home mom for years. We homeschooled and had a fulltime business. Eventually my younger 2 went to school and I went to work at a major corporation. I threw myself totally into that job for 2 years and completely lost myself. Now I am back at home on medical leave for depression and anxiety due to my job. I won’t be going back, so now I have to decide ‘what’ I am. For those 2 years I ‘was’ my job. Now I am wife, mother, grandmother, working on being a writer, small group coordinator for my church, and I have picked up this little hobby called BLOGGING!
    Great post!

    Bernice
    http://bernicewood.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/so-what-is-good-enough/

    Reply

  10. Adryon
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 16:39:30

    I’ve felt this way since I had my daughter….eight years ago.

    I’m just now figuring out that I still have a name besides MOM, MA, MOMMY, MAMA 🙂

    Great post!

    Reply

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