Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Call me a Homemaker, Please

Don't worry, I'll be back with more Orthonomic posts. . . . . but in the meantime, try this on for size. :)

I don't know when the term "Stay at Home Mom" (SAHM) replaced the term "homemaker," but I really dislike (read: can't stand) the former term, even though I often find myself using the term to tell people what I do . . . . And that is precisely why I hate the term, because it does absolutely nothing to describe what I do.

A teacher teaches, an accountant accounts for the accounts, an administrator administrates, a therapist provides therapy, a driver drives, a cleaning lady cleans, and a stay at home mom stays home, correct?

Unless you want to find another term to describe all of my duties (caregiver/babysitter, preschool teacher, camp director, chief dean of discipline, counselor, driver, librarian, project manager, cleaning lady, chef, baker, hairdresser, buyer, inventory supervisor, organizer, handy woman, bookkeeper, tax preparer, tax planner, investment advisor, financial planner, and budget analyst, etc), than feel free to call me a homemaker.

But my function is not to "stay at home," my function is to make this house into a home. So, I'd much prefer the chashuve title homemaker rather than the new and ever so popular title SAHM. The title homemaker makes me feel professional, and I try to treat my duties here with the care of any CEO. Being called a SAHM makes me feel lazy. And that I am not.

Excuse me now while I return to eating my bon-bons (errrrrrr, scrubbing my counter tops and managing the cookie and challah baking. . . . . not in that order of course).

To the SAHMs out there, what do you prefer to be called?


Looking Forward said...

me thinks that sahm is a term used specificaly to describe homemakers as lazy and therefore coerce them in to the workplace.

which is a vile way to treat the foundation of our society if you ask me.

there should be a holiday in honor of homemakes where all the amusement parks and other diversions are free and all the spaas offer free treatment to homemakers and dadies are let off work to be with their children while their wives get treated like queens.

(oh yes, and government funded babysitting for those who want to enjoy the day with their husbands)


Leah Goodman said...

I always refer to my sister-in-law as a full-time mom, since she spends well over the standard 40 hours a week doing motherly duties.

I suppose it really doesn't add in all the things she does in the house, but it's a lot closer to what she actually does than just "staying at home."

mother in israel said...

HNC, in Israel there are often subsidized "kaytanot," geared toward charedi women. There they get a few days of special treatment in a (not fancy) hotel.

I don't like that term either, even though I prefer to spend most of my time at home. It's only recently that I have begun to realize that homemaking is not a dirty word.

Ariella's blog said...

I was thiking if I should describe myself now as a stay at home mom because I work from home. I have a home office in which I can sometimes work 50 hours a week or even more at crunch times, but the hours are not consistent. Moreover, a home office doesn't seem to have the official feel of going to work outside the home (especially as my kids do feel free to wander in) Not including maternity leaves of about a month or less, I was only at home full time without working for a few months shortly before and after my youngest was born, and that wasn't comletely my choice. (It's very hard to pick up a new job when you're 5 months pregnant and look 7 months.)

RaggedyMom said...

I once blogged about a rude guest we had who said something quite derogatory along these lines. Ironically, I doubt he even knew that I stay home with my kids, since he did not waste much time actually asking us about ourselves!

Thankfully, that was a one-time off experience.

I hear your point, SL, and while it sounds a bit passe due to falling into disuse, I do think that homemaker is a better descriptor.

These days, I really am a stay-at-home mom because I was put on partial bedrest (again!).

Normally, there's a lot going on that keeps me out of the home a good deal of the time.

Although being a natural homebody type, some of our greatest activities and learning experiences as a family do take place within these walls.

Orthonomics said...

MiL-Like you, I'm not much for running around. I prefer to keep my days free from too many appointments and errands so I can deal with the inside of the house and keep the kids behavior in check. :)

Ariella-There is a term WAHM (Work at Home Mom). I'd say that is what you are. (I barely qualify since I don't have too many clients). Even when my kids are all in school all day, I'd prefer not to have to go to an office and work from home part-time or 3/4's time. I want to be home before they get home so I can be more relaxed, and it would be great to be able to throw in a load of laundry or put up a soup before dealing with a client, so the evenings can be spent managing the nightly routine without trying to squeeze in the cooking, etc.

RaggedyMom-I didn't know you are on bedrest. I remember the post about the rude guest. I've received a bit of pressure from the other side of the family, even though my MIL was always home and is highly deserving on the title homemaker.

I'd say that you can proudly be a SAHM while on bedrest. :) Goodluck and be well.

Anonymous said...

I just think Stay At Home is so funny because.... we're NEVER at home. Between walks, the bank, the post office, the mall, going to visit friends, making product deliveries, going to storytime and doctor's appointments for them and for me.... I know I'm supposed to have them take official "naps" at this age where they're home in their crib, but more often, they need to drift off in their car seats because we're on our way somewhere when they're tired.

And when they're in bed after 8:30 or so at night? I'm selling products via my website, emailing customers, calling consultants, placing wholesale orders, doing mailings, organizing samples, organizing inventory, packaging product orders for tomorrow's post office run, putting receipts in the computer, paying bills, doing the laundry, doing dishes, making a grocery list, mopping the floors, making the beds, cooking dinner and sometimes remembering to eat it.... not to mention learning, davening, and *gasp* I even READ every day!

I think I work harder than most 9 to 5 ers sometimes.

Ariella's blog said...

As a mom, you're never really off duty. My husband will probably argue that fathers also face home shift after the official job ends. He said he will comment. Well, as Father's Day is coming up, perhaps we should open a Father post.

Orthonomics said...

Good idea about a father post. My husband is definitely instrumental in the bedtime routine. The hour he puts in after work is very valuable. I'd literally go crazy if he walked in the house an hour later than his already late return time.

Anonymous said...

I once saw an advertisement that read "Stay At Home Mom? It's more like Go Go Go Pedal to the Metal Mom."

Life is not one size fits all. We all have different talents, temperments, goals, and so do our kids. Some people love the adrenaline rush of racing to get ten errands done in 6 minutes and still get kids to wherever on time. Others of us would need a padded cell after coping with that schedule.

I'm fortunate that I can do part-time income producing work at home. It's great to alternate a bit of that work with housework and know that I don't have to rush like a maniac to be here when my kids get home.

I found it annoying that people said, what do you do all day when my kids were little so I told them I just sat on the couch and ate bon bons. Sometimes I said I work in suicide/homicide prevention (keeping the little ones from accidentally electrocuting/poisoning each other)

Anonymous said...

Whenever I ask someone what they do and they say 'Stay at home mom' I always reply - so you have a full time Job?

Chaim B. said...

I certainly sympathize with the sentiment that SAHM's are not given credit for the work that goes into homemaking, but I'm going to risk being the lone male non-SAH voice here to say a little balance is needed. My mother was pretty much SAH, and to this day my father does not do household chores like laundry, washing dishes, etc., but those 1950-era strictly defined roles no longer exist. Right now I'm at work with hours that do not even come close to 9 to 5 while recovering from bronchitis, but when I get home on any given night (close to 8:00) I usually take care of some household chores, help kids with homework, learn with my son, chase kids to bed, while trying to also have energy to make it to ma'ariv and learn as well. With respect to WAH, just the commute alone (not counting job stress, which you can argue is no greater than the stress encountered in homemaking) is a time and energy killer that SAH parents avoid. SAH or WAH also allows for flexibility - the work or chores must get done, but you alone govern when and how to do them without answering to a boss or manager. You don't have the headache of juggling only 15 vacation days a year between various yamim tovim and a real vacation (I'm missing my daughters kindergarten graduation right now because of that issue), or the worry of a train breaking down on Friday leaving you stranded somewhere minutes before Shabbos, or even the headache of explaining to a boss why your day ends at 2:30 on Friday. I could go on, but you get the point. True, the greater weight of the homemaking burden is felt by the parent who stays at home (my wife does all the shopping, cooking, and many many other chores that I never do), but many Dads (and Moms) who go to work outside the home juggle the double burden of the responsibilities and stress of the office while sharing the responsibilities of the home.

RaggedyMom said...

SL - Thanks for the boost - I needed that!

mother in israel said...

Chaim--you're right. Homemaking full-time or even working at home is much less stressful than commuting. We have it good. Still, I'm pretty sure that my husband wouldn't trade with me. At least he hasn't offered.

Anon--suicide and homicide prevention--I love it!!!

Ariella's blog said...

But the thing is is if both parents are working at jobs outside the home, one needs regular childcare arrangments. Even when kids are already school age, they come home before a work day plus commute is over and are off many more days than parents who are not working in a yeshiva are.

Orthonomics said...

Chaim-I don't discount the difficulty of working fulltime outside of the home! I have a complete resume, but I know I could not manage my last job (which I loved) and the family and the house. I'm not a jack of all trades and don't have much left in me after a full day of work and the commute.

Some families manage effectively, but we would collapse. One can hire someone to clean their home and even buy take out. .. . but if you can't manage your children and your marriage after hours, you can't hire someone to do that for you.

We are definitely stuck in the 1950's here, with the exception of finances as I manage the books (included my own self-employment ledger) and the investments. I do the heavy majority of the housework and my husband helps around the edges.

Anyways, this wasn't a post about how being a homemaker is more difficult (might be for some, but not for me!). It was a post about feeling degraded by the title SAHM. I'm a homemaker and I run a cost-efficient household to boot. :)

Orthonomics said...

Others of us would need a padded cell after coping with that schedule.

I'd need the padded cell after all of that. And there are days at home where I feel like I need the padded cell anyways because there are days at home that are so bad that I feel like putting our my resume ASAP. If I did not believe my family benefitted by my homemaking, I'd definitely be putting out my resume by the end of one of those days.

AS said...

I agree the term is somewhat derogatory. On another not what would you call a husband who dose all the shopping and laundry :)

Orthonomics said...

Good question blogmeister. There are a number of SAHD (Stay at Home Dads) out there. In fact, I seem to be meeting more and more of them on my outings and there are even notes in the Mommy and Me event guides that Daddies are invited too.

I'm guessing these men wouldn't want to be called a homemaker since homemakers are normally women. Any SAHDs out there want to tell me what they like to be called? Full time dad? Primary caregiver? Family Manager? Professional Dad?

Somehow Stay At Home Dad doesn't seem to imply laziness the way SAHM does. But maybe that is because no one ever defined the job duties of a father who is on duty during working hours as:

*Eats bon bons while watching TV

mother in israel said...

Jewish blogmeister--
If you do all the shopping and laundry good for you! כן ירבו במוך בישראל

In most households, the wives are responsible for running things. (Even if she works as long hours as her husband.) So if the husband shops, his wife makes up the list. She coordinates the schedules, the menus, the guests, the physical organization of hte house, and so on. The responsibility is on her head.

Anonymous said...

I tried posting before but it seems not to have gone thru. Please forgive me if it does and this is a double.
In Hebrew, a housewife is known as AKERET HABAYIT: the mainstay of the home. In modern times this has taken on a deragetory meaning, but if you ignore modernity, you get what such a woman is: one who upholds the household, cares for it and around whom the home-life revovles. There is nothing deragetory about that. I do believe in choice, and many women DO NOT HAVE a choice: they need the extra income, especially in the States where tuition eats you up alive. However, in the States, most of my working friends had the grace to wish they didn't work, or at least wished they worked less so as to have more time with their family and in their home. Here in Israel it's the opposite: the more you are outside the home, the more successful you must be and after four years here, I am still having a hard time dealing with that. Just my 2 cents..

Anonymous said...

What do I do? I am a domestic goddess. Occasionally, when in a punchy mood, I will answer; I run an insane asylum, chief referee, monkey tamer, chauffer to the littlest dictators, and of course, (what do you do?) everything.

Orthonomics said...

Love it Anon.

Juggling Frogs said...

My favorite bumper sticker: If I'm such a Stay At Home Mom, why am I always in the car?

Anonymous said...

i usually say 'full time mom' or 'most of the time, i'm with my kids' - i dont love 'homemaker' because even though i do most of that stuff, i dont enjoy it. i stay home with my kids because i want to be with them and raise them - and i dont want to be cleaning or doing laundry.
tamiri - i'm in israel too, and i agree with you - people dont seem to feel the same about the value of actually being with your kids here - which is why some people complain that the kids shouldnt have a day off from school - just adults from work - so they can have a child free day off. i mean, what would you do with your kids on a whole sunday?? though the value judgements sometimes seemed to be more about what my kids were missing (socialization at age 1? another authority figure being important at age 1 so they will know they have to listen to the teacher at school?) i'm not complaining that the 'mommy wars' havent reached here, but i do think that it is interesting culturally that there isnt more of a value of being with your kids here. maybe it stems from kibbutz?