It’s taken me four years to appreciate not having to go to work!
– Me, 2019
I don’t find it easy to write about life as a “stay-at-home mother” (first off— can we get rid of that phrase already?) because I’m still conflicted about many things. Yes, I’m extremely grateful! No, I didn’t choose to not have a career outside the home! But yes, I love staying at home! But no, I don’t want to be with tiny humans 24/7/52! You get my drift.
So I thought I should just start writing for documenting purposes, and maybe things will sort itself out in my head. Let’s go.
What I love about it
I get to build good habits without the restriction of an office job: solat Dhuha, naps, cooking family meals, anything when I want to and when circumstances (read: kids) allow.
I have puh-lenty of time to read! As I’ve mentioned, my reading habit restarted after I became a mother and now I think it’s just… like, how did I ever have moments when I wasn’t reading something? Reading is life-changing.
I get to know my kids. Too well, in fact. I am sure working mothers know their children well too, but when you’re really with them at home all the time, it presents more opportunities for interaction and communication. And the whole parenting/nurturing thing is much aided by this advantage.
I have managed to learn things I never thought I would. To be honest, I don’t know why, but I used to find homemaking-skills or “domestic stuff” kind of too #extra and I was put off by the idea of labouring for your family. But other than learning how to make soap and bread and pasta, and how to keep houseplants alive, I also learned a lot of skills related to children and motherhood and that is a blessing.
It has enabled me to relate to other mothers. My time at home has seasons of ups and downs, and through the struggles I learned that mothers need lots. of. support. Modern life doesn’t automatically lend enough support for mothers at home, and so I created a private Facebook group for my circle of friends to give the space and (virtual) me-time we need. I get messages and questions from friends and am more than happy to play the big-sister role.
What I found difficult
Standing up for my needs. I never understood the whole thing about mothers sacrificing themselves and putting themselves on the backburner, until I was a mother myself. I’m telling you, it’s not that we are doing it on purpose, but the nature of having young children, and in my case circumstances like having a spouse who works long hours—it’s inevitable that something is compromised somewhere and it’s often the mother’s needs.
Compromising. Now, instead of compromising my needs and wants, I set rules related to the kids and home. It helps that they are slightly older now and can take some leniency. For instance, an hour of screen time a day, having some nights where toys are left on the floor, doing laundry only every other day, etc. Pick your battles and priorities.
Having confidence against “negativity”. It’s not hard to believe that some people out there still look down upon educated women who do not have a career outside the home. I don’t think it’s simply a money issue, because many mummy-entrepreneurs are generating income from home just fine, thank you. (And besides, it’s #noneofyourbusiness!) It’s probably misconceptions about “what your contribution is to the world” and perhaps “wasting your talents” or “not developing yourself”. I can argue night and day about each issue, but to me it’s important to tell myself that Allah has plans for me, and Allah alone knows what I do all day and pray that He accepts from me, however little others put value on it (because they can’t see and don’t know).
So chin up, Mamas!
Whatever stage of life you’re in, wherever you are at the moment, enjoy it—it’s a blessing!
If I can give advice to other homemakers: Whether or not it is written that one day you will work outside the home, embrace your situation right now. You will miss it, I promise you. And it is normal to struggle, to feel a spectrum of emotions, to think that you deserve differently. I have read that homemaking is one of the most sincere roles there is because it is only between you and Allah—you couldn’t describe and evaluate everything that goes on in a day even if you tried!