Can you still call yourself a stay-at-home mom when your children are in college?

Give me a couple more years and I’ll let you know.

I used to joke that in the future I would announce at cocktail parties that now that my girls were in school I was thinking of returning to the paying workforce and I would flatter myself that people might assume I meant elementary school. After all, I live in a city where first time moms are as likely to be in their 40’s as their 20’s. And there was a time when I would tell people I was the mother of a 7 and 4 years old, or later an 11 and 8 year old, and they would look at me amazed. You couldn’t possibly have children that old! they would say, flabbergasted by my youth.

Now, when I tell people that my daughters are 18 and 15, I pause, wait for the astonished gasp, the That’s impossible, and am, more often than not, met with silence, not even a raised eyebrow. Not even from salespeople at department stores who work on commission and really should know better.

I am a stay-at-home mom, or mum as I try in vain to get my girls to call me. My Husband says it’s pretentious, but he didn’t grow up on the South Shore of Boston where everyone, rich or poor, educated or not, called mothers Maaaa (like a nannie goat) or Mum. I was poor, and very well educated, and my mother said she wasn’t a goat and so she was Mum, and so I thought I would be Mum. My girls are growing up in San Francisco and no one, save the Irish immigrants and the pretentious, call mothers Mum. Ah well. I am Mom and occasionally Mumma, which is not far from Mum, so I’ll take what I can get.

So I am a stay-at-home mum (mom). And it’s pretty great, except when it’s not, or when people ask me what I do, and I’ve taken to saying nothing, which isn’t true at all, and diminishes the value of what I contribute to this venture that we call our family. Being a parent, stay-at-home or not, is hard and wonderful and thankless and demanding and maddening and funny (because if we don’t laugh we are sure to cry).

And now I guess I’m a blogger. But really, who isn’t?

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