Ever since having kids, whenever I have to fill out an official form, I always hesitate over the ‘occupation’ box. When I wasn’t working I didn’t want to write unemployed but I didn’t really like labelling myself as a ‘housewife’ or ‘stay at home Mum’ either. Since starting work as a freelance writer last year, I’ve been oddly relieved that I have something else legitimate that I can put on forms. It’s got me thinking though, why am I so uncomfortable with labelling myself as a stay at home parent? Is it perceived judgement from society? I think partly it is. Although there are many many parents (mostly mothers) that choose to stay at home, I think a lot of us still feel a bit awkward about it. I hate meeting up with people I knew from before kids and answering questions about what I’m doing with ‘I’m staying at home with the kids’. I can’t put my finger on why but it feels really embarassing.
It’s ridiculous really because there is so much worth to be placed with staying at home with your children in their formative years. A lot of research points to children doing better when they’ve had a parent at home and besides, the cost of childcare is such that often there is no financial incentive to return to work before they reach school age anyway! On top of these reasons, you gain so much yourself as a person by staying at home. My time keeping, organisational, creative and diplomacy skills are much improved from the last 7 years of full time parenting.
However, that put aside and even if the stigma is all in my head, I still want to be able to put more in that box. For me, I don’t want my identity to be defined purely by the fact that I’ve had children. I want there to be more to me than simply being a mother. Being Mum is just one facet of who I am, I am also a wife, a friend, a writer, a doula… None of these are more important than the other, rather they all make up who I am as a whole. Although the mothering portion of my life is somewhat consuming currently due to the smallness of my kids, I look forward to letting other parts come to the fore as the kids get older and less dependent on me. I’m all too aware that if I let motherhood envelop me now, when the intensity of it fades, I might not have much left to get stuck into. I am proud to be a mother…and simultaneously, more than just a mother.