The myth of the stay-at-home mom

Mothers in the 21st century are incredibly resourceful and inventive people. They also engage in the most endearing wishful thinking.

Mothers in 2011: We can do it!
Mothers in 2011: We can do it!

About half of my friends are stay-at-home moms, the other half, working moms. At least I think so. To be honest, never a fan of labels, I am a little confused on how that “stay-at-home” sticker really works anymore.

In casual conversation with a mom acquaintance the other day, she mentioned she had been staying up late at night to work. We were at Secondo’s preschool class volunteering at 9 a.m. She was groggy but cheerful. I asked her what she did. She said she was a dj for weddings and events. She went on to describe how she met with couples in the evening, prepped playlists and materials after her two children had gone to bed and then did gigs on weekends and evenings.

“But it’s nice,” she said, yawning as she took a sip of her coffee, “because I get to be a stay-at-home mom.”


Another friend of mine who was laid off during the worst of the recession considers herself a stay-at-home mom. She also runs her own artisan business, working until all hours of the night hand-making goods she then goes out in the wee hours to deliver to clients throughout the greater Bedford Falls area. A day or two a week, she works at a couple of local boutiques for several hours at a time.

Another is a “full-time mom,” who teaches yoga, Pilates and spin at two different gyms, has written a book she is now promoting and markets herself in the local press as much as possible.

Yet another is a broker of sorts, working with kids at home two days a week, three others she is out in the field, stopping back at home for lunch, dinner prep, homework time and more. On the weekends and in the evenings, she runs her own specialty school for kids. And she feels incredibly lucky she’s available for her two kids.

Then there are the moms who are teachers, educating and nurturing other children in gorgeously decorated classrooms nine and a half months out of the year and then on-top-of-it, outing-planning, swimming lesson scheduling stay-at-home moms two and a half months of the year.

“I love my job because it matches my kids’ schedule so I can be at home with them,” I have heard more than one gratefully muse.

I admire all of these women. I relate to them. Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, I am scrambling for freelance work, helping Mr. Bailey coordinate publicity, social media and events for the Bailey Building & Loan; I am finishing my master’s degree, shuttling Prima to school, lessons, tutoring, sports, play rehearsal and art classes and volunteering at least twice a month in Secondo’s preschool classroom. I am helping with costume make-up for the school musical, providing marketing advice to friends with businesses and desperately fighting the war of dog hair, unmade beds and rapidly breeding laundry piles.

We are definitely moms, so that label works, but we rarely stay at home. In fact, we rarely “stay” anywhere.

So here’s to finding a more accurate moniker for us all – how about home-based working moms? Unconventional income earners and children managers? Sporadically paid, usually working and constantly mothering? Hmm…that’s a mouthful.

I’ll think about it more today while I stay at home.