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.