“Stay-at-home mom.” I didn’t know this was even a term until I had my child in the US and quit working full time to take care of my daughter. The term ‘Stay at home mom’ always threw me off a little and made me want to stand up and ask “wait, but everyone comes back home at some point, right?” Ah, there was no escaping this I sensed as and when it was thrown at me at every instance. It was then clarified by a dear friend that a “Stay-at-home mom” was someone who “stays” at home to take care of her children full time. It’s pretty common where I come from, and looks like its common here too; however the terminology is very different.
Growing up in India, it wasn’t a familiar term. Familiar terms were “housewife” or “homemaker”. My mother was a housewife and a rather successful one at that. I’m sure a lot my fellow South Asian friends would agree. Growing up in a middle class family in India, mothers were always around. There were very few instances where a mom worked, and when they did, it was a set up that worked with the family schedule. I guess a lot of women stopped work, once they had a child due to the sheer demand of taking care of a newborn and running the household.
I think this holds true even now.
Fast forward to present, I guess it’s up to an individual or their family to decide what works for them when it comes to childcare. I’ve spoken about this in many of my previous posts. Having said that when I get stopped by random parents at the park, store, library, malls who I run into say “Oh, so you’re a stay at home mom?”– I almost want to turn around and say “If that means putting my child before everything else, and being able to afford it– Then yes.”
My family members in India have been pretty supportive of this decision, however every now and then they get curious about when I will actually go back to work.
‘Take everything in your stride’ they say. I, for one think moms’ who stay home with their kids are constantly under the microscope especially if they have recently quit working full time and are now home to nurture their child.
The jabs and the misconceptions never end. Here are some of the most common things people have said to me.
· “Why are you all dressed up? Where do you have to go?”
· “So, what *exactly* are you busy with all day?”
· “What do you mean by you have no time?”
· “Since you’re home all day, could you do this small favor?”
· “Oh poor you, must be terrible staying home without working”.
· “Will you *ever* go back to work again? Looks like you are losing touch”.
· “Looks like you’re really enjoying motherhood and don’t intend to do *real work* anymore”.
· “You’re telling me you make fresh food every day at home? What a waste of time!”
· “I’m so sorry about rescheduling seeing you again since I’ve been busy. But since you’re home, any day should work right?”
· “Why don’t you answer the phone? It’s not like you are busy *all day* are you?”
I think it is unfair that people have this image in their head about how easy being a stay at home mom is. To keep it simple it isn’t all that easy. I don’t have ‘extra’ time to do things what interests me, let alone making time for everyday chores and errands. Many times at social gatherings or parties I’ve actually seen people subtly rolling their eyes when I’ve told them I’m a stay at home mom. A lot of times some of my own friends have hardly talked about how my life has shaped up, and trumped some of my conversations with the “important stuff” like work talk, or gossiping about an ex-coworker.
It is a privilege to be a mother, and more so if you are spending time with your child day in and day out. It is tiring and not glamorous at all. I have learned to tune out the comments (including people as well) and sometimes come up with some hilarious comebacks. That’s probably for another time.
I haven’t decided on an ‘exact date’ yet on when I will go back to work and I am not in a rush either. I, however do intend to go back eventually. I’m not going to lie and say that every minute is beautiful. It is a mixed bag, but I am definitely enjoying this time watching her grow up. We need to grow a heart and treat mothers equally; whether they are working full time and coming back to their kids, or whether they are home with their kids all the time. It’s a ton of hard work and I’m sure all of us here will agree.
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