Mom Labels

by Love, Work 6 Comments

hello-im-a-momIt seems that every other article I read lately about moms has included labels for each of those moms. Stay-at-home mom, working mom, single mom, married mom, married single mom, etc.. The emergence of the big “controversy” over Michelle Obama’s use of married single mom as a label just really hit a nerve. Not because she used the term that others are debating over, but the fact that we even have these silly debates. Really? Why are we trying to one-up each other on how hard it is to be a mom? Can’t it just be a given that life is hard? Period. Why do we, as women, do this to ourselves?

I have walked around with the single mom label for many years and it wasn’t until my three oldest children were moving out that something profound hit me. When my youngest daughter leaves the home, what will my label be? I have defined myself as a single, working mom for longer than I haven’t been one. Somewhere along the line, I became that label – no, I really became that label! When meeting new people, the conversation typically started like this:

Me: Nice to meet you.
Them: So tell me a little about yourself.
Me: Well, I am a single mom with four kids. I work fulltime as a computer geek. I have a couple of degrees. That’s about it.
Them: Oh well I have a computer question for you…

Now, when I think back on that description, it doesn’t really even say much about me as a person. It’s a shallow answer, really. But, it seemed like just saying “I’m a single mom” was a strong enough statement that I didn’t have to say much more about myself. Like it screamed “I am super woman. Hear me roar!”.

Thinking on it more though, it seems like it was more of a defense mechanism that I grew to embrace. If things were falling apart and I wasn’t delivering like people expected, I could get a free pass on things because people knew I had a lot on my plate. If things were going well, the praise was even bigger because “wow! she did this AND she’s a single mom, too!”. Of course, I could use it for self-pity, too. “Life is so hard. People expect too much. Don’t they understand that I am a single mom to four kids doing everything by myself?!”. And I used it as my drive and motivation as well…thinking that I needed to prove to the world that I can still do anything and be successful despite being a single mom.

Don’t get me wrong – being a single mom brings a million variables with it that many cannot truly understand unless they experience it – whether by choice or by circumstances. The mental challenges that come with it can be overwhelming at times. The frustration of the lack of help, the anger at the circumstances, the pressure of trying to cover all the financial hardships alone, the emotional struggles of carrying so much alone with no one to help give advice without judgement…it’s a hard road to travel. While, I do emphathize with those moms that are married and feel like they are a single mother, let me assure you – you are not experiencing what it is to be a SINGLE mom.

In spite of that, aren’t we all working towards the same thing? No matter what our label could be, it doesn’t change the fact that we are all working to bring up healthy, successful, morally sound children that we can be proud of. The way we get that never looks the same as another’s journey. No matter the title, we all face mental, emotional and even physical challenges working towards the best end result we can accomplish. Sometimes we fall, sometimes we jump with joy, but always, we are all doing the same thing – being the best mom that we know how to be.

The one label we cannot remove once we have earned it – MOM. That’s it. No adjectives needed. I’m proud of that title more than any other. My kids asked me once why they aren’t allowed to call me by my first name and my response to them was “there are only four people in this whole world that have the privilege of calling me mom – and that is special”.

How would you feel if your mom label suddenly changed? Would it affect how you see yourself or how others would see you?



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Becky Gruebmeyer has been a single mother of four since 1998. Her children, ranging from 13 to 25 years old, have been her focus while meeting all the challenges that come with being a working mom.


  1. Great thoughts…labels are very limiting and what a great answer to your kids about calling you Mom

    • Thank you!

  2. I love this! It’s almost a competition sometimes to label ourselves or each other. As in “Who has it harder.” Who cares! It’s all hard. And I love that answer you gave the kids about why they can’t call you by your first name. As much as I have days where I believe if I hear “Mom” one more time I will flip, I’m so glad it’s my main label.

    • Thank you!

  3. Love this!! I wish the great debate of which title has is the hardest would end and we would just respect all Moms! Everyone has a different level of ability and different strengths…but in the end we are all Moms!

  4. Hello Becky.
    The transparency which you show in this piece, took courage to write and publish.
    Happy Mother’s Day.

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