23 Jun

Claim it girl!

Claim it girl!For the last six years I’ve resisted having the label “work-at-home-mom,” or WAHM, used to describe me. Initially, this was because of my snobby, “I’m a real working mom,” attitude that was left from my days as a corporate cog. And apparently the conversation about what makes a real working mom is still a hot-button topic today. But I digress.

I left traditional, full-time employment in 2003 to go on my own and have been working from home ever since. I like love it. Even though “WAHM” is an accurate description of who I am today, I’ve struggled to fully to claim it as my identity. The powerful corporate cog of yesteryear lingers in every shadow and I’m culled back to the belief that I was a better person then than I am now. Of course, I know that’s not true. But the thought still hangs in the air urging me to breathe it in.

This push-pull struggle between identities has been the most intriguing part about being a mom – ever since I popped out that adorable 6 lbs 5.5 oz bundle of love in 2001, my life has been just one identity crisis after another:

  • Working Woman to Working Mother to Work-at-Home-Mom
  • Skinny Girl to Overweight Mom to Skinny Mom
  • Corporate Cog to Savvy Mompreneur to Aspiring Writer
  • …the list goes on…

Over the last several weeks I’ve tried to move past my obsession over the “WAHM” moniker. At first, I thought I might just have a problem with labels altogether. They can create stereotypes that inaccurately categorize people. For example, last year my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher found out that I’m half-Japanese, thus making my daughter a whooping one-quarter Japanese. That evening my daughter tells me, “Mr. X said I must eat a lot of rice.” This, while we happened to being eating rice for dinner, but that’s beside the point. The point is, labels are an opportunity for people to make wild generalizations about you – inaccurate or not. I wondered whether I really wanted to adopt the label “WAHM” and inherit all the stereotypes that go along with it.

I was over-thinking it all though. The answer to my WAHM identity crisis finally arrived this morning while I taking a shower – that’s where nirvana meets creativity and ideas tend to spark, or maybe it’s because the shower is the only time when my thoughts are free to roam without interruption, but again…digressing. Here’s what I finally came to: Claim it girl! And that’s what I’m doing today – claiming my identity:

I’m a work-at-home writer mom.

Of course, claiming a new identity isn’t exactly like flipping a light switch and just being “on.” There is an evolutionary process at work and that takes time. But I’m patient and am willing to grow into my new identity. One of the things that will change is the direction of this blog, which is currently focused on moms who work outside the home.

One thing is certain – I’m passionate about my life as a working mom. But after more than six years working from home, my perspective on life for moms who work outside of the home isn’t always on point. And let’s be honest – although we share many commonalities, a work-outside-the-home mom has different challenges than one who works from home.

For example, I don’t really know what it’s like to get up at 6 am to get the kids ready for daycare, because I haven’t had to do it for a long time. When I attempt to develop an article or personal essay for this blog, I’m forced to stretch my memory to a faraway experience just so we can relate.

Trying to fit into an outdated identity is tough work and probably a main reason many moms feel off balance. It’s far worse that taking the leap to claim an identity that’s been begging to be recognized. But, I won’t be doing you that disservice anymore. Over the next several weeks, this blog will likely undergo some changes as I work to grow into life as a work-at-home writer mom. And I can’t guarantee it’ll be pretty, but it’s sure to be interesting and more important a more accurate reflection of who I am today.

Your turn – is there a part of you that has been aching to come out, but you’ve resisted it? Why? Maybe it’s time you claimed it girl!

The therapy session has now ended.

4 thoughts on “Claim it girl!

  1. For a while, I told people I was a stay-at-home mom because of the perception that writers are lazy. Then, I found out that many people, especially women in my community (black women), find little or no value in the contributions of homemakers. So, I told people I was a consultant. This way, I could excuse being at home because consultants have flexible schedules. This was not a good idea. Because I had a “flexible” schedule, I turned into the go-to-mom for sick days, doctors’ appointments and such.

    Recently, I settled into the title of “write-at-home-mom”. My work is writing and being at home with my boys. I am a lot happier and don’t have to explain what I do.

  2. I related to every single word of this post! My transition was from corporate to consultant to self-employed WAHM to full time employed WAHM. Now I want to make a smarter transition to self-employed writer/marketer WAHM, fixing the naive mistakes I made when I first went into business and becoming more productive as both a freelance and creative writer. And I’ve already started, so here I’m claiming it:

    I’m a work-at-home, self-employed writer mom & marketer.

    Wee! That felt good, thank you!!

  3. Good for you! I was excited to be a stay at home mom for the first year of my oldest son’s life (every mom doesn’t have that option!) I’m also excited to be at work at home mom. When friends ask if I feel like I’m “wasting” my Columbia education/work background/etc. by my life decisions, I am like “no way”.

    I’ve never read of anyone wishing that they had spent more time at school/work/etc. on their death beds. Rather, it’s the time that they missed with their loved ones that are often causes of regret. I think that as work at home moms, we have the best of both worlds!

  4. I love that you’re so honest about your struggle with labels and claiming your title even as you morph into new roles and take new challenges.

    It’s crazy how the need for “a title” is so ingrained in us that when we don’t have a one at the ready (me for instance, out of work, but still writing, blogging, consulting and mommying) we can feel sort of inadequate. I’m finally learning how to label myself with my personal passion title (professional writer & author who specializes in girl empowerment issues!) rather than my old work title. Glad to see I’m not the only one who’s struggled with this.

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