My Real Dream: The Stigma Against Stay at Home Moms

For my whole life, I have wanted to be a mom. If you’re my family, this is no surprise to read in the slightest. For my friends, this isn’t shocking either. Ask me any day and I’ll pull up my baby Pinterest board filled with nursery ideas and must-have supplies for new moms. I’ll talk to you for hours if you let me about different ways to deliver a baby, why I believe midwifery is the way to go, and how many kids I want to have. I’ll dream up scenarios of traveling with my family across the globe, hiking with a baby close in a sling, and prepping for lunches for years on end, sticking sweet love notes in lunch boxes. I imagine this passion to be the same as someone wanting to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher.

For my whole life, though, I have been embarrassed of this. While I’ve only had two serious boyfriends (and if you’re counting outside of high school, only one), I have been on a lot of first dates, and I always get asked the same question:

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I have two answers at this point; I’m at a fork in the road.

  1. I want to pursue a career in Public Health and combine my love for film and photography with my passion for community and helping others, or
  2. I want to be a mom.

I have chosen #2 for my answer about 4 or 5 times.

“That’s it?”

“What are you going to do when the kids get older?”

“So you don’t even think a career is important?”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

If a guy told a girl he wanted to be a stay at home dad, she would swoon! She would love it! She would be so happy! Maybe its just the guys I’ve gone on dates with (I mean, there’s a reason there was only one date…) but I know that a huge stigma exists against stay at home moms and its extremely frustrating.

A New York Times article, The Stigma of Being a Housewife, was published in 2010. Although it is six years later, the content is still true.

“In the 1950s, women were expected to stay at home, and those who wanted to work were often stigmatized. Today it’s mostly the other way round, pitting women against one another…”

I don’t really understand why such a stigma exists, pitting people against SOH moms. My childhood was incredible and I owe so much of that first to my mom, who stayed home with me until she went back to school when my little sister was born, and then my dad for supporting my mom’s decision and supporting her 100%. Do I think that women who work and parents who have busy jobs neglect their children? No! Of course not! Do I think they are shitty parents? Absolutely not.

I think the biggest root of the problem, in correlation with the stigma, is the unfamiliarity of being a stay at home mom. Yes, it is popular, but it is not talked about. It isn’t celebrated on the same pedestal as doctors, CEOs, lawyers. Men who had stay at home moms their whole lives will still scoff at me when I say I want a family and wonder why.

“It’s easy to stigmatize or romanticize the different paths we choose. The true challenge is to dig deep enough beneath the surface to understand each others choices or, at the very least, respect those choices we don’t understand.” via

You might not understand why I want to raise babies for a living, but I don’t mind. You don’t have to understand. All I ask is for your respect and attention; the same you give to everyone else with a different dream job.

 And if you want to see the color scheme I have for my nursery let me know.
Previous Post Next Post

Where to next?

  • I love this post! I too would love to be a stay at home mom and I feel like it is so looked down upon. Where I’m from they assume you are just a gold digger or lazy! What people don’t realize is that being a stay at home now is a full time job! Most families would actually benefit from a stay at home since day care or nannies are very expensive and can take up a lot of a women’s income. So essentially women are working to be able to pay someone else to take care of their kids!

    I’m all for stay at home moms!

    xo – Laura B.

    • Savannah Ward

      It IS a full time job! I found an article once that calculated a salary for a SOH mom based on labor and hours, and if SOH moms were paid it would be the highest paying job. EVER.

  • I definitely want to be able to have a career but stay at home with my kids and be involved. Something all of a sudden just clicked and I am back full force on my blog and soon to be design business. That way I can work for myself and still have a career but still be able to stay at home with my kids (when I have them).

    • Savannah Ward

      Wow, congrats on moving forward with your business Lindsey! That’s amazing! I can’t wait to hear more about it.

  • Kayleigh

    I definitely want to be able to balance. My mom stayed at home with my brother and I until we were in highs chool!
    http://www.kayleighskloset.com

    • Savannah Ward

      Hey Kayleigh, that’s awesome! My mom went back to work part time before I was in high school but she was still always there if I needed her. One time, I was having a really bad day at school, so she surprised me and brought me the new Twilight book and a smoothie hahaha moms really are the best!

  • Carolina Ines

    I feel the same way! Telling people I want to be a stay at home mom (while my kids are young – I want to be teacher once they’re all in primary school) isn’t typically the route I take. But because the response I usually get is different then yours. People tend to turn to me and say “but that’s not very feminist of you” or “you’re not helping the feminist movement.” I get crap like that all the time, but as a feminist shouldn’t it be my choice to be a stay at home mom? I don’t understand why it’s so “wrong” or looked down upon to want to be a stay at home mom.
    http://www.thelovelylina.com

    • Savannah Ward

      I feel the same way. I definitely want to have a career, if its not out of the home, when my kids are older. I agree 100% with you — the whole point of feminism is that people have the right to choose. Thanks for commenting!

  • Olivia Muller

    I love this!! I have very driven and career orientated but at the same time I just want to be a mom. Maybe I’m a stay at home mom 5 years, 10 years, 2 years! Who knows but this is so inspiring!

    -Olivia

    Miss Olivia Says

    • Savannah Ward

      Right?! Who knows! But I just want to have the choice without all the negative talk. Thanks for commenting!

  • I totally agree – when I tell people that my dream is to become a mom, or the reason why I have such a part time flexible job is so that when I’m a mom, I can be with my kids, people criticize me for not using my degree and making the most money that I can. Love this post!

    • Savannah Ward

      Wow, thanks for sharing your experience! That’s SO frustrating. 🙁 It’ll all be worth it though when you get to stay home with your family 🙂

      Hope you’re having a great week!

  • It’s such a personal decision! I think everyone should do what is best for them and their family.

    • Savannah Ward

      I agree, Elana! It is definitely what is best for you and your family. I would never give someone a hard time because they are a working mom. The family I nanny for has working parents and I never think they are loved or paid attention to any less. Hope you’re having a good week!

  • You need to follow your dreams and passions…no matter what others think.

    • Savannah Ward

      Thanks Bella! <3

  • Kayla S

    I totally agree with everything you’ve said. I also hope to stay at home and raise my future children, for at least some portion of their lives. I think that in this day in age, it’s totally doable to compromise, so don’t feel like you have to choose between two careers (if you don’t want to choose!) I think this is a great post. You have to do what’s right for you.

    Kayla || Keynotes from Kay

    • Savannah Ward

      Thanks so much for commenting, Kayla! I agree that I don’t have to choose and I think that’s so great that we have evolved to where we don’t have to stick with one job our whole lives. I guess I’m just a little sad since even if I want to do both, I still get a little crap for it when I tell people since the SOH mom is tacked on that dream. I definitely want to have a career and raise a family. I hope that career can be worked on from home, but I do want to combine both. Thanks so much for that advice!

  • Lauren Ashley

    Love this. I have always wanted to be a mom too. ALWAYS! I owe so much of my childhood and success to my mom because she stayed home and was with us all of the time.
    xo
    Lauren

    The Fashionista’s Diary

    • Savannah Ward

      Hey Lauren, yay! I’m so glad you loved it! I agree 100% — so much of the positive and happy moments from my childhood that stand out now are because of my mom and her being able to be with us at home. She never missed a field trip, classroom tour day, awards ceremony…it was awesome. Thanks for commenting!

  • Being a stay at home mom is a full time job even though it isn’t treated like one. I really didn’t understand why someone wanted to stay at home, but I respect it much more now.
    Shaguna

    gold&hearts

  • Savannah, I love this. Seriously, this stigma annoys me to no end. While I’d love to be a C level exec in the “real world” being a mom is so important to me, and I wouldn’t trade that for any job with any kinda of salary tacked on. If “just” being a mom is what you want to do, then please, you rock it girl. Because I can name far too many “jobs” that are way simpler than carrying a baby for 9 months and then providing for it for the next 18 years!

  • Merisa Ferrell

    I think wanting to be a mom is so precious and honorable. It’s a commitment that I honestly believe most people take for granted. It’s refreshing to see how much thought you’ve put into wanting to be a mother and you should never be ashamed of that. Thanks so much for sharing! xx Merisa | Monogrammed Magnolias

  • This is such a wonderful post! You do you, girl! I think it’s amazing that you want to be a SOH mom. x

  • Sara Kate Steadman

    AMEN!!! This post is amazing. Honestly, I don’t know how working families do it when someone doesn’t stay at home. Thanks for sharing.

    xo,
    Sara Kate Styling

  • I love this! I don’t want children myself but I totally agree that there shouldn’t be a stigma against women who want to be stay at home moms!

  • Faith

    I’ve always wanted to be a mom too. But I also love special education and teaching. So I can totally understand!

  • Ashley E

    Oh my goodness! Savannah, you are my soul sister!!! When I was four-year-old, any time someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say “a mommy.” At 20 that’s still true, but I feel like I can’t actually ever say that because of what people will think. Major props to you for coming out and saying what i’m sure a lot of us are thinking!

    xo, Ashley
    alittleashley.blogspot.com