Returning to a paid job after working at home as a parent remains a difficult path.

As I wrote that single sentence, I struggled with what labels to use for working moms and for stay-at-home moms. Should I use stay-at-home mom? That always sounds like the mom is not working while at home, and that’s certainly not the case. Returning to work after working at home as a mom sounded clunky, and as if the mom may have been working at a paid job from a home office. Returning to work after being a mom. Worse. Returning to a paid position after unpaid slave labor. Nope.

I thought about how careful I am when I ask moms if they work. I always phrase the question as: “Do you work outside of the home?” (instead of just: “Do you work?”).

I’m concerned that if I ask the second question I’m implying that being a stay-at-home mom is not work.

I’m annoyed that this struggle with language and terms around mothering is still in play and that we don’t have succinct descriptions of roles that clearly value whatever we do based on family needs and economics and personal choices. Hmmm, I could come up with some, right?

Freelance writer Rebecca Perez Lang recently published a terrific article on mothers reentering the workforce after staying home to care for their children. You can read it by clicking here.

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Marianne Lonsdale
Marianne Lonsdale

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