I just got off the phone with a BFF who doesn’t yet have kids. She is one of the many who struggled with my decision to give up my career to raise my kids. Though this phone call wasn’t the usual ‘hi, how are you? Lets talk paint colours…’. It was more of ‘hey, I was just thinking, society really doesn’t value stay at home moms’. In agreement I sighed ‘oh, so that’s what everyone is passively saying when they ask me if I’m ‘just a mom?”
Colleagues, family, friends and strangers have called me ‘just a mom’. It’s a term that makes it socially acceptable to discreetly tear down the value of being a mother.
Mommy wars, working moms, stay at home moms, the mode of ‘mom’ has changed over the generations. For modern moms there is little value put on being a stay at home mom, it’s not enough. It is just…. just a mom.
But there is a poker hand of moms that society smiles at with an easy breath of acceptance:
The Moms Our Culture DOES Value
New moms with cuddly babies. There is a window of time where society collectively coos at all moms toting a freshly swaddled babe. People offer this mom places in line, chairs in waiting rooms and carry her bags to her car. This beautiful woman just spent almost a year avoiding booze and sushi so she could grow and bring new life onto our planet. She has been initiated into parenthood and is not getting any sleep or warm meals. Let’s give her all our smiles and unsolicited advice.
Moms with successful full time careers. This mom is determined to stick it out. She won’t call it quits on the name she’s made for herself and the career she’s toiled at for years long before she ever imagined being a mother. She is teaching her children that women can be pencil-skirt wearing CEOs who do it all, succeed in the professional world and don’t need to rely on anyone else for support.
Momprenuers. She doesn’t just stay home and watch TLC all day. She’s a self-starter, inventive and can still contribute financially to the family with her creative home-based labours of love.
Moms going to school. This is the mom who is going make something of herself. Her kids will see her dedication to higher education that will lead to a better career and life for her family. She is independent, driven and follows through.
But then there is the folded hand that our culture fakes a smile at and changes the topic of conversation:
The Moms Our Culture DOES NOT Value
Stay at home moms. This mom doesn’t do much other than meal plan, sweep floors, drink wine and blog (or so I’ve heard). She has no career and sits around all day instagramming the activities she does with her children while all employable skills she has honed become rusty and outdated. She likes being bored all day, doesn’t work very hard and is dependent on others to make her way. This mom probably doesn’t have much to offer a conversation that doesn’t involve tantrum tales, poop or labour pains.
Moms with at least one unruly kid aged toddler to pre-teen. That cute cuddly baby is now throwing a fit at the grocery store, flicking their spaghetti across the salad bar or screeching down the road on their skateboard. Everyone is asking where is their mother? While they scoff at this mom’s lack of discipline and their kid’s lack of respect.
Home schooling moms. They are weird. I mean, what’s so wrong with public schools? We all went to public school and learned stuff real good! Their kids are weird too, with their lack of social skills and conventional education. How will they ever learn how to play dodge ball? Or play hot cross buns on the recorder?
Moms who pick up their kids in the same PJs they dropped them off in. All other cardigan, scarf-wrapped mothers wonder why she can’t get her ish together. This mom has so over-invested in her domestic duties and being ‘mom’ that she neglects her personal life and full-length mirrors.
If you read my blog you know it’s my secret motivation to empower other moms to find their value. It is a very personal road to kick away the stones of hopelessness and chaos and repave with joy and passion. You have to know that you are valuable as a mother no matter how mundane it may feel.
What ‘Mom’ are you? Do you believe you are valuable as a mother? Who makes you feel valued? How can we make other moms feel valued too?