Labeling motherhood

I don’t like being defined. I don’t think my job or my child define me.

So I hate it when reports come out that label moms as stay-at-home moms or office moms. A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau has once again resurrected the mommy war that exists between these two groups of mothers. The report found that nationally, stay-at-home moms are more likely to be younger, Hispanic and living in poverty.

Here’s my problem with the report: The survey defined a “stay-at-home mother” as one with a child less than 15 years old who stays at home to care for children while her spouse works all 52 weeks of the year. Any woman who worked part time, full time, or even one week in the previous year was lumped into the “other mother” category.

So even though I gave up my full-time career as a reporter to raise my daughter, I don’t qualify as a “stay-at-home” mom according to the U.S. government. Yes, I write articles and teach an online college course while my daughter naps, but I also watch a considerable amount of “Sesame Street” and play with a lot of Play-doh.

So there it is — someone else defining who I am as a mom. I thought I was a stay-at-home mom, but the government tells me differently. I thought I had made this big soul-searching decision to give up a career to raise my daughter, but I guess it’s just not good enough.

I’m just one of the “other mothers.” Awesome.

I wonder if there will ever be a time when these labels can disappear and the label “mom” will be good enough.

What about you — what’s your working/parenting situation? How do you feel when people brand you as either a stay-at-home mom or a working mom?

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