Former Bachelorette Trista Sutter on Being More Than ‘Just a Mom’

01/28/2016 at 08:00 PM ET

Trista Sutter
Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

A year ago, Trista Sutter asked her two kids, Max and Blakesley, what they want to do when they grow up — and when her son told her he hopes to be just like her and “do nothing,” she was shocked.

The former Bachelorette, who married her firefighter beau Ryan Sutter in a televised wedding after the reality franchise’s inaugural season in 2003, opened up about the experience in a recent TedxVail talk titled “The Value of YOU.”

“It was a couple of days before the first day of school and … I was preparing the Pinterest-inspired poster boards that my kids would naturally hold for the obligatory photo commemorating the day. I planned to include the year, their grade, and just for fun, what they wanted to be when they grow up,” the Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart author said of her and Ryan’s two kids: Max, now 8½, and Blakesley, now 6½.

“So I asked them both. Blakesley, our very ambitious girly-girl, immediately jumped up and said that she wanted to be a dancer, a singer, a teacher, an artist, a movie-maker, a nail person, a hair person, a veterinarian, a physical therapist and a mom. Max, our introverted boy’s-boy, took his time,” Trista, 43, recalled. “Finally, after a few minutes, he looked up at me and said: ‘I want to be like you, Mom. I want to do nothing.’ ”

“Wait — what? How could he have said that I do nothing? Does he think that I do nothing? That I’m just a mom? And there it was, those three little words: ‘just a mom,’ ” Trista said.

“Doesn’t he know that I do anything but do nothing, especially when it comes to our home and our family? I mean, I know I don’t have a flashy title like race car driver, inventor, or CEO or lawyer or even firefighter, like his dad, but it’s not like I sit around on our couch all day long. Just like all the other hardworking, stay-at-home parents I know, I spend my days picking up this, putting that away, cooking, cleaning … and anything else necessary to help keep a roof over my family’s heads, food in our bellies and smiles in our faces.”

According to the former reality star, the “just a mom” label is something she found herself desperately trying not to assign herself.

“Really, I’m most-known for handing out roses on the first season of a reality show called The Bachelorette, where, crazy enough, I met and fell in love with the man of my dreams … and now, I’m just a mom.” she said.

“I said that I was just a mom as a way to protect myself and beat my fellow [TedxVail] speakers to the punch in judging me. They were renowned … I was infamous from reality TV and I felt like if I let them in on how worthless I was feeling in comparison to them, then maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much if they came out and said they felt that way themselves,” she admitted.

Trista said she’s been working on not “cowering” to her own negativity and urged others to do the same: “Ever said that you were just a something? If so, then you should know that what I’ve learned is instead of protecting yourself, you’re actually the one holding the hammer that’s chipping away at your own self-worth.”

The mom of two has also learned to make sense of her son’s comment: “With a little reflection I have since chosen to believe that in Max’s case, what he said was an incredible compliment. He saw being just a mom as being happy and fulfilled, giving the phrase the most positive of connotations.”

And Trista’s hubby has got her back, too — in fact, he was the one to nominate her as a speaker for the TedxVail talk.

“Love you @ryansutter,” Trista captioned a picture of a bouquet of flowers from Ryan on Instagram earlier this month. “Without you, your @tedxvail nomination & your belief in me, I wouldn’t be here today. I hope I do you proud. #ilovemyhusband #grateful #itsagooddaytochangelives #thevalueofYOU.”

— Aurelie Corinthios

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting , Trista Sutter

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Showing 33 comments

julir on

Her daughter has one of the worst names ever.

What??? on

Kids can be so truthful, and it can hurt.

PCC on

Oh, please. You chose to be a stay at home mom, which is fine, but just own it and stop with the defensive act that so many of the SAHMs seem to have.

Nicole on

Sometimes I wonder how honest these celebs are with what their children tell them. I doubt her daughter said she wants to be a physical therapist….

rachel on

I don’t judge stay-at-home moms. I am one of them and I have loved it. Next year my youngest child will be in PreK and my last year as a mother of a preschooler. I am beginning to wonder what I will do all day once she’s in kinder. I was a speech pathologist before my 4 kids were born. I hope to find part-time work in the school district, but who knows. Maybe Trista is a superstar volunteer, but I do look at moms with all their kids in school as being a pretty cushy “do nothing” sort of job. But once the kids get home its a very busy and important job!

Jenna on

I am tired of the hate stay-at-home moms get. Some moms think it’s best to go back to work after the child is in middle and high school. No. Work while in elementary school and then be the SAHM. K-5 not the time when they’re likely to get in trouble. You need to be especially vigilant in middle school onward. SAHMs don’t do ‘nothing’ though it may seem that way to the child.

Francine on

Obviously her son is very pereceptive. But it was kind of him not to usr the phrase “fame whore.”

Lydia on

Oh whatever! She doesn’t do anything for a living! She tells her kids what to do, say, live, etc. It’s basically nothing. Maybe do something meaningful outside your home – as in being worldly – and maybe your kids will take notice. Also SAHMs, don’t live in leggings, sweatpants, yoga pants day after day. If it’s REALLY a job and you want your kids to see it as one, dress presentably!!!

Stacy on

@Nicole, as Trista used to be a physical therapist, I can believe her daughter said that. My husband and I are both therapists, and our kids can tell people what we do (and our youngest is her daughter’s age)…

surrender on

Blah, blah, blah, sthu

rubyovertherainbow* on

Never liked her at all. She was so full of herself.

DrMom on

“Just like all the other hardworking, stay-at-home parents I know, I spend my days picking up this, putting that away, cooking, cleaning … and anything else necessary to help keep a roof over my family’s heads, food in our bellies and smiles in our faces.” How about doing that AND working a full-time job? Why do SAHM’s feel the need to validate themselves by touting the importance of cleaning the house, putting meals on the table when working moms do that and so much more!

Ally1 on

Kids either just say what they think or repeat what they’ve heard. I was very surprised to hear from my nephew that I go shopping and get botox “all the time”, but you’ve just got to have a laugh🙂

Sarah on

Most everyone who commented on this thread should be ashamed. It’s sad that grown people act like catty children. Regardless if you are a stay at home mom or a working mother (same for stay at home fathers, working fathers), is it your place to be commenting on what someone chooses to do with their lives or how acceptable you find it? Maybe everyone should take a look in the mirror. She in no way even implied that being a stay at home mom was better than a working one so why so quick to judge? So sad how quickly people are to pass judgements. Btw, I write this as a working mother. Maybe the real conversation here should be the fact that maturity levels of adults are sadly lacking all around us.

Suzanne on

I am single and I do everything she does, plus pay bills, provide for my future, home repairs, yard work, auto repair, care for an aging parent, and work full time. Sorry, Trista. Don’t come crying here.

Emily on

I’ve been a working mom and a SAHM to two kids. Staying home is HANDS DOWN a harder job. I can’t stand when other women poo-poo that. I can definitely identify with her struggle with self VS mother.

autumn on

WOW. Trying to make a housewife sound exciting and important for kids that are in school all day long. Working wives and moms do all of that after they get home from work!

Sienna on

I don’t understand why she does not have a job. Her kids are in school full time. There is only so much cleaning etc you can do everyday all day. Even if it’s a part time job. I have 3 kids and when my first went to school and I had no other kids I was so bored it was mindless not being a productive person in society. Her son is right he only see’s his mom doing nothing because most days she really is doing nothing other than hanging out.

DH on

@sarah… Thank you for your comment:) I agree. Come one ladies! Let’s support each other. Everyone’s path in life is different. We all have our challenges no matter how we live it and regardless of our environment or social status. Let’s support one another on how we choose to live it.

Jenn on

@ Emily, I agree with you 100%. I’ve been a working Mom and then a SAHM and staying home is much harder. There’s no break from Mom duties even when your children are at school. I am more exhausted now than I ever was when I worked which I never thought would happen. Funny how all the working Moms somehow think they work harder. Haven’t you all heard the saying ALL MOM’S ARE WORKING MOMS!

Guest on

@drmom.. I’ve been a working mom and a stay at home mom. Staying at home all day with kids is a lot more difficult. You get home from work and only have to clean up what your kids have done before school and since you got home. Stay at home moms clean up all day, since kids are making messes all day. And I have to feed my kids all three meals, plus a snack. And then clean that up too. My son has to have specially made food, so the peanut butter sandwich doesn’t work or fast food. Maybe people with older kids have it a little easier, but young kids are tough all day. I don’t feel like I have to justify what I do, but I think it’s unfair when people think being a full time mom is easy.

Anonymous on

Nicole, I find it very possible that her daughter mentioned a physical therapist…Trista has a degree in physical therapy. Kids repeat what they hear!

Jeanne on

Trista, You are over-reacting to your child’s comment. Kids want to see the simplicity of their parents. You do not have to prove anything to anyone. You are who you are and you choose to do what you do. No need to prove anything to your kids or anyone else. Breathe and remember who you are, and stop defending and over-reacting. If you do nothing that is probably the best response!

Jenny on

It really irks me when stay at home moms insinuate that they have the hardest job. Excuse me, but I do everything you, plus I work 40+ hours a week.

Also, can you really be considered a stay at home mom when your kids are in school all day?

Guest on

Being a stay at home mom is a huge job that so many people don’t realize or appreciate.

Em on

Jenny- ive been on both sides- working full time to come and be mama. Now I’m a stay at home mom and without a doubt, being a SAHM is harder. There is no reprieve. You have to be ON from 6AM til 8PM. At work you get breaks, can chat with co-workers, zone out in meetings, take sick days ( I just had surgery and was back to lifting 2 little kids a couple days later), and you can see a paycheck for your efforts. Work can be stressful no doubt. But it’s a totally different ballgame. Stay at home parenting is also linked to depression- it can take a toll.

It’s not a pissing match and I will forever support working moms AND SAHM’s but it gets tiring to hear how SAHMs do nothing all day. It’s incredibly frustrating- I’ve put more blood sweat and tears into my kids and home than in any office.

sally on

Yep, stay at home mom’s get no respect! They GIVE it all to their family and to others. Ever notice all the working mom are always hitting you up to give their kids rides home- can my child hang with yours on the day off from school, etc….. Kids get taken care of by someone who truly loves them, healthy meals, husband does not have to worry about a thing when it comes to the home and the kids- schools get volunteers who do all the grunt work and they don’t have to pay once cent. SAHM should feel proud of all the many skills they have and the fact that they are committed to home and family. They provide a home that is well run and less stressful. Never feel less because you decide to give those precious years to actually raising your kids. There is PLENTY of years left to get back in the work force! Then you can say you truly did it all!

sultex on

I am a SAHM. I cannot believe the rude comments I have received from other family members or working moms. I’m sure a lot of it is from jealousy that we can afford to have me be home to raise our kids! But then again- we PLANNED it that way. I waited until my late 30’s to have my two kids so I COULD stay home. It was our choice- otherwise I would not of had kids.
I cannot believe how working mom’s take advantage of SAHM. I cannot tell you how often I pick up other kids- babysit them for free, etc…
Just the other day a mother called (not even a good friend) and said she was working and her son was in an after school activity and could I go get him at school and bring him home! Being the nice person I am I helped her out. BUT she continued to call and expect me to start picking up her son! I had to set her straight. This stuff happens a lot. Not ONCE has any of them ever written a nice card to thank me or anything. Being a SAHM is a “thankless” job. But as far as my kids are concerned- it’s the gift I am giving them. My mom worked from the time I was 4. I always wished she would be home when I got home from school- or that I would see her face during special performances at school. I am able to give that to my kids. That is why I am a SAHM.

barb on

As far as I am concerned, being a good gull time mother is the most important job in the world. Sometimes it seems that a young professional couple have a child, Mom rushes back to work and the child is reared by a nanny or childcare. Obviously, most families need two incomes to survive and afford children but if it possible to do so with only small sacrifices, it is great to be there when your child needs you for as long possible.

Trista Sutter on

To those who watched my talk without judgment – thank you!!
To those who posted lovely commentary about my daughter’s name (it is my mother’s maiden name), the dreams that my daughter has of being like me – once a physical therapist, and how I spend my time – you may have part of the story and the ability to, as I mention in my talk, hide behind your computers and be the bullies you are, but I won’t let you have the last word and thankfully, have the option of defending myself. Yes, I am a stay at home mom, but one that works multiple full time jobs. I act as our PR manager, booking all our travel, paying all our company and household bills, scheduling activities and appointments, working with insurance companies, cooking, cleaning, driving, etc, etc, etc. I wrote a book, represent companies as a spokesperson, and most importantly, act as a volunteer not only for my children’s school but on numerous committees and local organizations in the Vail Valley. I had 9 minutes to speak and didn’t want to bore everyone with my “laundry” list of titles. I am not just a stay at home mom, but a stay at home and work mom – and wouldn’t have it any other way. It is the most important job I will ever have and I feel lucky to have the opportunity. The purpose of my talk was to share my truth so that others would know that they aren’t alone in feeling judged. It isn’t directed at stay at home moms, but anyone who has ever felt unworthy or devalued themselves by calling yourself “just a” anything. I want anyone who watches the youtube video to know that they aren’t alone. I deal with criticisms (as shown here) often but choose to be grateful for the light in my life, and my hope is that anyone who can relate to feeling unworthy or judged, will look to gratitude to lift themselves up as well.

Lamib on

Thank you Trista for coming here and expressing the way you’re feeling.
Criticising your daughter’s name is rude and an all-time low. To each is own, as long as it doesn’t cause prejudice to the child. Judging you for saying what you live as a stay-at-home(-and working) mom when you did not criticised anyone is also bad. I wish people would just support one another. Seems like that’s just too hard to do. But I’m glad you set the record straight !

Tammy on

Yes it’s an understanding she is hurt that her son said he wants to do nothing when he grows up, being a stay at home mom is a huge job.

Elaine on

I think that people should do what they think is right for their own families – for some, that involves staying home and working, and for others, it involves working outside the home. It is all important and relevant. What I really dislike is when people judge others based on the decisions they make about their lives, acting like others should do what they do as if their way is the best way.

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