I am mildly offended by the following titles:
housewife – This word has always made me laugh. It is imbued with stereotypes and bourgeois notions. It reminds me of the 50’s adverts that one can still find at antique stores or grandmother’s basements. It erases all that women have contributed and are contributing to our society. Even assuming a woman chooses to interrupt her career in order to focus on her family, this does not mean that she has abandoned all that she once strove to achieve. It does not imply that she has forgotten all that she worked so hard to accomplish. It is a fork in the road and she chose a different path.
full time mom – When I hear this phrase I immediately picture myself as a half of a person. It’s as though all the me that is woman, wife, friend is eliminated. It reduces me to the most basic of providers. It connotes feeding and taking away sharp objects and keeping clean clothes at the ready. It is only the me that wipes noses, cuddles, soothes and coos. I love that part of me, but it really is only just a small part. So how can I say I am full time mom when I am a full time everything.
stay at home mom – This may be the worst offender, though I’ve heard myself use it any number of times. This phrase screams laziness and immobility. It makes me think of lumps on logs and droopy faced women in house slippers. When am I ever at home. I am at the grocery store, library, gymnastics class, piano class, pharmacy, doctor, more often than I am home. I run from one errand to the next. I jump into the car rushing to the next activity. I am late for a doctor’s appointment, so, with one child on my hip and the other by my side, I jog towards the building. Where is the stay part.
homemaker – This is the least offensive of the titles. It’s also one of the more accurate ones. My real problem with it is that at the end of the day I look around me and get depressed when I analyze how little homemaking I actually accomplish. When I have one of those not-so-stay-at-home days and the house is a disaster and dinner is leftovers and the kids are dirty and I’m grumpy and the bills still need to be paid, well, I haven’t been much of a homemaker that day and the title doesn’t apply. It’s hard when the one title I would most want is the most difficult to keep.
what-did-you-used-to-do? – This is the first question asked when I meet new people. It’s as if what I currently do, raise children, have a husband and generally have a fabulous life, is not enough. It may not be a title in and of itself but it ends up feeling like one since I have to fill in the answer with one of the above titles. And even after writing this piece and even though I chastise myself every time and tell myself I won’t do it again, I will invariably use one of the above titles on myself the next time someone asks me, “what did you used to do?” Oh, you mean before I had two rambunctious, brilliant, incredible children who need me every moment of the day. You mean before I had a husband who works incredibly hard so that I can “stay at home” to be a “full time mom” and “create a home” for all of them? Is that what you are asking me right now. Because if that’s the case then before that, I just had a job.