The Home Maker

We live in a society that dictates our life’s path with labels. Labels are like human sound bites, a niche to quickly categorize one’s purpose in life. I have worn several labels: daughter, sister, student, lawyer, wife. So when it came time to adopt a new label for my adventures in motherhood, I wanted to choose carefully.

I began my maternal journey as a “stay-at-home mom.” But every time I spoke the words out loud, I would cringe and often interject, “but I used to be a lawyer.” When filling out forms, I would force myself to write “stay-at-home mom” and then grumble under my breath that the box was not large enough to fit “but I used to be a lawyer.” Why did I always feel the need to justify being a “stay-at-home mom?”

The label “stay-at-home mom” is a misnomer. Aside from conjuring up negative cliches of women sitting on couches eating bon bons; or spawning catchphrases such as “sit-at-home mom,” it is simply wrong. Most stay-at-home moms I know are rarely home and when they are, they are not sitting on the couch.

Next, I tried on “full-time mom” for size. But that didn’t fit either.

This label insinuates that women who work outside the home are somehow less of a mom. How can I be a full-time mom when there is no such thing as a part-time mom? To insinuate otherwise is derogatory to mothers who work outside the home.

Then one snowy afternoon, my husband phoned from the city asking how the home front was doing. There was a fire crackling in the den, a dog snuggling nearby. The baby was sleeping in her swing and the apple muffins were almost done, when it hit me: I made a home. I am a Home Maker. It is my responsibility to make a home for my family and to “keep the home fires burning.” (A phrase that was first made popular as a British patriotic First World War song composed in 1914 by Ivor Novello with words by Lena Gilbert Ford).

Home Makers tend to the physical fire in the home as well as the fire that lies within every living being. As the Home Maker, (or the “keeper of the flame” when I am feeling primordial) it is equally important that my own flame burns strong. We can not give what we do not have. Thus, Home Makers must take the time to care for themselves while simultaneously sacrificing for their family. It is an intricate course to walk, but when the Home Maker’s fire starts to flicker, the entire family reacts to the diminished light.

So whether you are working 90 hours a week outside your home or manning everything from your living room, all mothers are Home Makers. The only difference is the way in which we go about making that home for our family. No way is better than the other.

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January

January Kerr studied government and legal theory at Lafayette College. She earned her law degree, cum laude from the New York Law School. After a decade of practicing securities litigation, she decided to focus her life on raising a family. It was through the birth of her daughter that her creative fire was rekindled and she rediscovered her passion for writing and philosophy. Ms. Kerr writes creative non-fiction and focuses on post modern feminist thought and esoteric philosophy. Her writing is further characterized by metaphysical connections and transcendental thought. Through etymology (study of word orgin), epistemology (study of knowledge) and metaphysics (study of nature of being), she hunts through the past to explain the present and gleam the future.

23 thoughts on “The Home Maker”

  1. I’ve never cared for sahm, although I’ve learned to accept and use it. It’s an easy, mostly inoffensive label to quickly tell what I do. But I was a sahm long before the term was coined so I’ve called myself pretty much everything (homemaker, housewife, Donna Reed, and yes, even domestic engineer). Usually when people ask what I do I tell them I raise babies. That truly is the focus of my ‘profession’ – I don’t stay home so I can clean and cook and iron my white cotton table scarves.

    What I find most ironic about the subject is when I decided I would make raising the babies my full time endeavor we had reached the point that women were expected to work outside the home, and that a two-income family was becoming standard, if not mandatory. The idea that I would willingly choose it wasn’t always well received. Men thought I was taking advantage of my husband. Women thought I was a disgrace to feminism.

    I’ve seen it go from the only choice, to a vilified choice, to a yuppie status symbol, to whatever it is now (I’ve mostly stopped paying attention).  One thing that hasn’t changed is whatever we choose, someone will always make a point to tell us why our choice is the wrong one.

    1. That’s what I like to call the catch-22 of the feminist movement and it  is an underlying theme in my Post Modern feminist philosophy.  The same women who paved the way for me to go to law school and become a lawyer, are the same women who made it difficult for me to leave the practice of law to become a Home Maker.  Has the women’s movement gone too far? Or are we witnessing a societal backlash?

      “But you have a law degree” – is not a valid point when making the home/work decision. I did what was in the best interest of my family and I am lucky to have a husband who values my sanity more than my income potential.

      I think we are still in the “yuppie status symbol” era of the “stay at home” mom.  I did not go to college or law school for an MRS. degree and yet, here I am., continually justifying my decision.  Does that mean I am a traitor to all feminist ideals?  No.  I like to think that the Fourth Wave of the Movement has evolved and recognizes that in this Post Modern Feminist World, stay at home moms do not have to trade in their feminist card.

  2. I’ll admit, Home Maker isn’t a label I’m fond of. It’s also a label that, to me, seems almost exclusively American. Here, saying Stay At Home Mum is considered quite normal. When it comes to forms, and other instances of having to label myself, I’m a Caregiver.

  3. I’ve been known to leave that line blank. I mean really, most of the time it’s asked to be nosy, or to see if you can somehow benefit an organization. It could be important for a massage therapist or doctor to know, but as a teacher, when parents filled out the form, it was to see if they worked for a company that might be interested in endowing our private school or if the parents were interested in coming in the career day.

     

  4. My mom gave up a career as a music therapist and activities director for the criminally insane to stay home and raise me. When I was around seven and my brother was maybe three or four she went back to school at a local community college to be a pastry chef. She completed everything but the business classes and took occasional catering jobs (I remember sitting at our counter watching her make stained glass windows out of sugar) But we were always her main focus. She considered herself a “stay at home mom” but did her own thing on the side to keep things exciting. I think having something that was just hers kept her balanced. Once we got older she found full time work, but she never worked full time when we were small.

  5. Thank you for not saying you’re the CEO of the household. I have several SAHM friends who went so far as to invent a “[Lastname] Industries” on facebook so they can list that as their job (sometimes with a title like “Chief Child Wrangler”). I hate calling myself a stay-at-home mom too; fortunately writing for PMag lets me pretend to be a blogger!

  6. Home Maker sounds decent enough, but I’m not sure exactly who isn’t a home maker. Any capable adult who lives in a home, regardless of gender or parent status has to either do or delegate home making tasks somehow; laundry, cooking/getting food, cleaning, budgeting, bill paying, etc. even if they also work outside of the home. Now, some may do more/less than others, some may have more/less help than others, and some may do additional things like decorating, hosting events, gardening, or whatever. And there’s nothing wrong if you’re financially able to have those be the ‘only’ things you do, because it is a lot of work! I guess if I was trying to differentiate it though, I’d lean more towards the full-time position (especially with caregiving or parenting tasks added) as being more of a ‘home/domestic manager.’ In my mind, it speaks more towards the full-time aspect of it and that one is in charge of those matters fully, not dividing them or delegating them.

    1. I like ‘domestic manager’ – I agree with January that ‘full-time mom’ is problematic, but I’m not sure about ‘homemaker’ either, because surely a home is a home whether someone is in charge of it full-time or not?

    2. Yes, but there is a big difference between a house and a home.  Not all houses are homes and not all homes are houses.  It is the value that one puts in to making the home.  Every member of the family may be contributing to turning a house into a home and thus are Home Makers as well.

      The Home Maker does not just make a material home, but is responsible for creating a home within each individual family member, a mental safety net that they can access in times of need. The internal home will help guide the member through  life.  Think of the internal home as a tool box and roadmap for the journey.

       

  7. I really dislike ‘full time mom’. Should I call myself ‘full time lover/fighter/emotional wreck/happy bunny’? Don’t we know that there is no time off for motherhood and no short cuts. And because of STFUP it only reminds me of those horrible entitled wimmen who post stuff like I WORK A 120 HOURS JOB FOR FREE, FOR THE LOVE OF MY CHILDREN.

    Eh yeah, no.

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