Before I was made redundant (for more on this see ‘Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mum’) I always felt proud when people asked ‘What do you do?’. The answer has varied over the years, but includes PR & Communications, Marketing and Multi-Brand Manager. By the time I was taking maternity leave I had a lot of responsibility and loved being accountable for a marketing team. However, what I didn’t realise until two days after I no longer had a job, was just how closely my career was linked to my sense of identity. With no job title I felt disconnected, in limbo and without purpose. For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t have a clear goal. My only ambition was to make it through each day without breaking my baby!
It was a shock to my system and I clearly remember the moment I asked Hubster,
‘What the hell do I call myself now?’.
I’M NOT ‘JUST A HOUSEWIFE’
Several months later I’m still trying to figure it out. Although there is one point on which I’m clear. I don’t want to be called a ‘housewife’. I know lots of women are proud of their housewife tag, but I find it a very out-dated term. It has become a word full of negative connotation and I think society’s view of what a housewife is, belittles the hard work and dedication that women all over the world are giving to their families. I’ve heard people commenting about an acquaintance or family member as, ‘Oh she’s just a housewife’ and while maybe I shouldn’t care what others think; the term just doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
So what do I call myself? Amongst others, a quick trawl of the Internet brings up ‘house parent,’ ‘home maker,’ ‘full-time mum,’ and ‘stay-at-home mum.’ To be honest, none of these appeal. Their parameters seem so narrow. Am I a parent that just stays in the house? Is my sole reason for existence to make a home? What does that even mean? I’m pretty sure we had a lovely home when I was gainfully employed.
Occasionally I do say ‘full-time mum.’ Mainly because people seem to understand it means I don’t work outside of the house. However, I’m not keen on this phrase either, because it suggests mum’s who do go out to work, are somehow only part-time mums. And what a load of rubbish that is. The threshold of your home doesn’t determine how much of a mother you are. When you’re inside, you’re a full-on, fully committed super mum, but when you leave and travel to work, you’re suddenly only a part-time mum? I don’t think so.
So that leaves me with ‘stay-at-home mum.’ I have found myself using this rather non-specific title, simply because I don’t know what else to say. Judging from other people’s reactions, it seems a more acceptable label than ‘housewife’. I generally receive a comment on how lucky I am to be able to stay at home with my gorgeous boy.
And I suppose that’s the thing. I am lucky. As we’ve all heard a million times – they grow up so quickly. This phase of Tutti’s life will be over in a flash and I feel privileged to witness as much of it as possible. To be there for every milestone, to hold him when he just wants mummy and to go on adventures every single day.
THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB
Redundancy pushed me into this position, but I don’t regret my decision not to return immediately to the workforce. Not one little bit. Who knows what the future holds, but right now this is where I’m happy to be.
I do know one thing for sure though, being a stay-at-home mum isn’t all lattes and lunch dates. From first thing in the morning until last thing at night, I don’t stop. I shovel down my meals, forget to drink, have a head bursting with so many things to do and constantly stress about whether I’m doing enough or whether I am enough.
And today I was thinking what I’d put on my CV for this stage in my life?
‘2015 – present: carer, nurse, chef, entertainer, stylist and teacher.’
Or maybe just ‘2015-present: breeder.’
I’m sure lots of you out there don’t give a fig what you’re called. You know the job of ‘mum,’ ‘mom,’ or ‘mother,’ is one of the most important in the world, what ever your picture of family life looks like. Ultimately, we all aced the interview. We all got the job (some having to jump through a few more hoops than others). But what I often remind myself of, is the fact that some women never get their dream job and would give anything to write ‘mum’ on their CV.
All of these labels we give ourselves are so subjective. Our feelings towards them are no doubt determined by our own experiences. I’m still on the search for one that makes me feel completely happy, but in the meantime I’m ‘mama’ and that’s enough for me.