Confessions of a SAHM: Don’t compare me to Instagram-perfect, working mothers
When I was a young university student, I dreaded the idea of being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) so much that whenever I would come across one, I would be thankful that I don’t have to live her life. I would constantly reassure myself that no matter what, I will never be a lazy SAHM who spends her entire day cooking, cleaning and changing dirty diapers. However, as I grew older and the first time I locked eyes with my little boy, I turned into a new woman.
I had people telling me that your life will change once you become a mother but nobody told me that you would also change as a person. You will turn into someone who is capable of giving so much love. It’s like I’m two different women. One part of me wants to stay at home, look after my baby, cook healthy meals for him, take care of household chores and enjoy a comfortable life.
The other part of me wants to follow my career goals and resume my job, admit my baby into a day-care, hire a maid to do the chores and go on date nights.
In my case, the former part of me wins. Because doing that makes me the happiest and choosing happiness over anything else should be every individual’s goal. It’s not like my career goals and dreams have vanished but suddenly they feel secondary to me.
Unfortunately, the idea of a SAHM in our society is regressive and outdated; it is painted in such a way that we find it dull and colourless. Everybody has an opinion about it, but nobody asks a mother how she really feels in her place. Mostly, I feel guilty, unproductive, sloppy and defensive for choosing to stay at home but I have made this conscious decision for myself; I put being a mother over everything else. It makes me feel secure to have my kid in front of my eyes and that’s how I feel I’m in the best place emotionally, mentally and physically.
In this world of constant over sharing and relentless comparisons on social media, one is always in self-doubt, which is confusing and frustrating. There are also mothers who have it all and flaunt their picture-perfect lives on social media but they don’t share the downsides. Hence, we as the audience perceive the complete opposite of what their lives really are like.
These perfect moms have full time jobs, sometimes they are bloggers/vloggers, they have time for a girl’s night out, their husbands cook breakfast in bed on the weekends and their life is Instagram perfect. They workout regularly, go on date nights and look gorgeous, whereas I can’t even fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. These mothers made me feel super insecure about myself and I didn’t realise this until I felt like I’m wearing these insecurities on my sleeve like a badge of honour.
To add insult to injury, I’m sure if you’re a SAHM like me, you’ve heard pretty much all of these ‘harmless’ comments:
“You are wasting your education sitting at home.”
“You are training your child to be dependent on you, that’s unhealthy parenting.”
“Oh my God! I can never live your life (sympathetic eyes).”
“So, do you really stay at home and look after your kids all day? Gosh!”
Why do people judge a SAHM? There should be no comparison between mothers. In today’s world, where women should be encouraged and empowered, they are being made to feel guilty about their choices. SAHM shaming is a reality in our world, it isn’t right to demean or criticise others for their choices. Instead, we should focus our energy on supporting and uplifting each other. It’s already challenging for mothers to invest all of their energies and time into their families, these uncalled for judgemental comments only make things worse.
Being a SAHM is not a piece of cake. When you’re working, it is very easy to get acknowledgement in the form of awards, bonuses and certificates. But as a SAHM, there is no recognition for your efforts. No one will honour you with an award for cooking, playing blocks with your kid and doing laundry, all at the same time.
There are a million things a mother is responsible for, it’s not a job for the faint-hearted. And even after all this hard work, when we finally get into bed at night, we’re only questioning ourselves; if we’re doing enough? Are we barely surviving? All of these questions are accompanied with fatigue and restlessness.
I think I speak for all the SAHMs out there when I say that we have hopes and dreams just like any other person and perhaps we will have careers in the future but the shaming does not make our everyday lives easier. We are proud to invest our time and energy in our little babies, who will one day grow up to become great people.
Since it is not easy for a mindset to change in a day, here are a few things you, as a SAHM, can do when anyone dares criticise you:
1. Develop thick skin and remind yourself that you are the mother who decides the best for her family
2. Remind yourself that your constant presence helps your child
3. Know that you’re not alone and you’re doing the right thing.
I have chosen this life for myself because I have a strong desire to witness my baby’s milestones, embrace his first fall, kiss away his tiny tears, hug him whenever I want; I want to be there for all of it whether its good, bad or extremely messy. I spend time with my child on purpose and I might not always be a SAHM but for now, I am loving it! And please remember, as challenging as your life may be, it still does not give you the permission to decide that a mom who stays at home with her kids deserves any less respect.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.