The Multi-Dimension Mama Archetypes
Primerrily parents once had a funny and fascinating chat about the relevance, complexities, and frustrations of the various types and titles of “Mom.” Just a few highlights:
“Working Mom”: Sure, okay, but aren’t moms who are "full-time moms" to their children, despite not being financially compensated, also very much working? (Certainly, a professional nanny would say so!)
“Full-time Mom”: Sure, alright, but aren’t those “working moms” who hire nannies while they’re at the office still on-call for their kids 24/7, and still considered their primary caretaker?
“Stay-at-home Mom”: Sure, we get it, but this sounds like moms sitting at home knitting, baking, cleaning, and then knitting some more. It also sounds like she might never leave her house. Contrast this with the “SAHM” in real life is more like “on-the-go-go-Gadget mom.”
“Single Mom”: Sure, sometimes relationships don’t work out as planned, but this label ventures beyond “mom” status and into commenting on “wife” status, and perhaps implies “custody” status. It is certainly meaningful in describing added obstacles of raising kids, but it is interesting to note that “single dad” is rarely rolled off the tongue, even when in joint custody.
Ultimately, we realize that -- like most things in life -- labels don’t always do justice in defining or explaining a reality. Reality can often be complex, moving, changing . . . funny how that sounds just like the life of a primary caretaking parent!
So while we have tremendous respect for the dads who take on the primary caregiver role, here we’re speaking to the mamas. Perhaps there’s some personal bias in this claim, but it seems like women are more likely than men to be “described” or labeled. Often it’s self-described, other times it’s not. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps neither is it a positive. Like most things in life, “it depends.” In any case, we could see it being a testament to the naturally multi-faceted qualities that fall under femininity -- that is, of being a female. Off the top of our heads, we hear about “girly-girls,” “tomboys,” “mean girls,” sweet, shy, social, adventurous, ambitious, athletic, bossy, creative, emotional, free-spirited, funny, nurturing, just to name a few. . . and such labeling continues into motherhood (far less in fatherhood).
Of course, labels or descriptors often make sense for the sake of conversational ease. For one, if we accompanied everything we say with nuances and caveats, points of communication would be limited. But on the flip side, when we become too reliant on “abbreviated speak” in the form of labels (a la catchy media headlines or 280 character tweets), essences of communication and relational connections become limited. . . to the detriment of human bonding. Perhaps this is why this wise educator once said “the breakdown of language leads to the breakdown of society.”
As all this relates to the many roles of “Mom,” we want to share some diverse and uplifting viewpoints from other websites addressing the variety of “mama-types.” Why? Are we splitting hairs or arguing over semantics for no reason? Nope! We are trying to rightly articulate the dignity of motherhood and also the individualism of each woman. As one Primerrily parent wisely summed it: Labels are for groups, names are for individuals. Labels can be assistive in quickly surmising information, but they can also be limiting. I haven't figured out my own "mom name" yet, but I like the idea of the exercise -- thinking of a mom name for myself that isn't a "label" because no two moms (or dads) are alike! And truly, none of my friends have a work-family arrangement that is exactly the same as any other woman I know.
So below are a few more salient and introspective excerpts, and then please click through to read on! After the reads, let us know your thoughts and experiences. How do you personally label and/or describe your mom “style” to friends, to your kids, to yourself?
When parental and professional roles come into conflict, we must make choices that demand trade-offs. . . No one can do it all. . . perhaps happiness doesn’t require doing it all or never feeling conflicted. Perhaps, instead, it requires deciding what gives your life meaning, accepting the internal conflicts you experience, and then making choices that tell a story you’re proud of.
There has been a quiet rise of mothers who are continuing to do meaningful professional work—whether part or full-time—but who are also acting as their children’s primary caregivers. Because there is no easy name for this group of moms, they often go undetected. They’re not leaning in, but they’re not opting out either. These moms may work full or part-time, from home or at a traditional workplace, but they are united by the fact that they prioritize flexibility in their career choices, choosing arrangements that allow them to put family first while also pursuing a professional vocation and contributing to their family’s financial wellbeing. My generation is making the old dichotomy of “working mom” vs. “stay-at-home mom” obsolete—and that’s a good thing.
Women’s attitudes toward their careers and broader cultural norms surrounding work have both shifted in significant ways in recent years. Still, the two most common belief systems that quietly shape mother’s decisions about work and family have been in place for decades, namely, that work and motherhood–if done right–are all-consuming commitments. They pull women in opposite directions, imposing high standards in terms of both motherhood and career achievement. When they’re uncritically internalized, these attitudes can lead women to feel like failures both at home and at work, ruthlessly criticizing themselves for their inability to do it all.
The stories we tell ourselves have a significant impact on our sense of identity, self-worth, gratitude, and, ultimately, our happiness. They may also send a message to young couples who are deciding whether or not to have children. In an era of declining birth rates and rising isolation, unrealistically negative portrayals of the experience of parenthood can exact a serious cultural cost.
When parental and professional roles come into conflict, we must make choices that demand trade-offs. . . No one can do it all. But, as many of the moms I’ve interviewed have discovered, perhaps happiness doesn’t require doing it all or never feeling conflicted. Perhaps, instead, it requires deciding what gives your life meaning, accepting the internal conflicts you experience, and then making choices that tell a story you’re proud of.
As a member of the #TradWives movement, I've noticed a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes that are tossed around on social media. To me, it's a group of women who prefer family values over career goals. So why has the media been so critical, even as the movement has gained popularity?
Many women in the #TradWives community also feel they are devalued and constantly have to defend their lifestyle choice. Why is that? Why do feminists or the mainstream media depreciate housewives as being “extremists” or lazy or regressive? If feminists truly cared about all women’s rights and empowerment shouldn’t they also be cheering on women who choose a life outside the boardroom?
We believe that the work in the home has a universal value that is founded on these stable realities:
The human person is composed of body and soul, matter and spirit.
Marriage is the foundation of the family.
Family is the foundation of society.
All work is service, and people learn to serve in the home.
Whether married or single, with or without children, living alone or with others, women have a special capacity and intuition to provide for the basic needs of others: food, shelter, clothing, health, unconditional love, a sense of belonging and security. Housework, far from being an obstacle to a woman’s development, can be enriching and fulfilling
We believe that the work of the home is true professional work, and requires professional preparation.
In the past women have fought hard for the freedom to be in the public square and to work in professions such as business, government, science, technology and engineering. These have been welcome and necessary achievements. We likewise believe that the work of the home is true professional work, which needs to be justly recognized, compensated and esteemed by women themselves, as well as by their families and society at large.
If you’ve ever been on Twitter, you may have seen the hashtag #Trad or #TradWife going around. Some women use it to say that they like living a more traditional lifestyle – being at home and raising their children – which is great! But some use #Trad hyperspecifically – and in a way that hurts more than it helps.
Being classic means tradition refined. It means embracing femininity, elegance, poise. It’s about knowing what your priorities are as a woman – being a mother, a wife, and part of a community – and that can include a career that serves those priorities too.