I am a stay-at-home mom to our tiny-but-loud handful of a toddler who is my life and also my overtime job. Raising a toddler can be very difficult at times and our 14-month old, sometimes, can test my patience to the limits where I’m forced to shout at him. Yelling, though, is not a guarantee that it is going to make him listen to me. I know it’s not a very healthy way of raising a child and I instantly feel a sense of guilt surge through me soon after, but it is a way to vent out my frustration and anger.
Lately, not long since my tiny man turned one, there’s a storm of emotions building inside of me, which is constantly keeping me angry and frustrated; and making me snap at my little one for literally no reason.
But why was I angry all the time?
I couldn’t understand where all this anger and frustration was coming from. Once a happy-go-lucky girl I had changed into someone who wasn’t enjoyable to be around anymore.
What had gone wrong; and where?
I paused to introspect. And I realized that the reason behind me not being happy was none other than “me”. Clearly, I was not happy with the circumstance I was in. But was I unhappy? No, I wasn’t necessarily unhappy either. So what exactly was I feeling? You see, there’s a fine line between “being unhappy” and “not being happy” (am I making sense?). I wasn’t sad being a stay-at-home mom, but I wasn’t happy either. And I wasn’t pretending otherwise.
But why exactly wasn’t I happy?
With a deeper contemplation, I realized that I wasn’t happy with myself because I was getting so consumed with my role as a stay-at-home mom that I was beginning to lose my identity. I was losing my sense of self. This wasn’t what I had dreamt my life to be. I kind of felt trapped in the situation, anxiously trying to come out of it but not knowing how to.
I’ve never been very ambitious about my career aspirations. But not being able to do something about it despite having a doctorate degree killed me from inside, slowly, piece by piece, bit by bit. Even people around me had led me to believe that I was wasting my hard earned education staying at home when many others with a lot lesser qualifications were doing so well at their jobs. I had begun to feel cooped in the house letting people get the better of me.
I have always been a meritorious student and dreamt of being independent and having a lucrative career. But the reality of the matter was, I was totally dependent on Mr. Husband for the tiniest of things. It’s not easy to give up the control of your life to someone else. I admit that Mr. Husband is a generous soul who believes in equality, but it is I who feel disappointed in me. I had high expectations for myself and, so far, I’ve been a complete let down to my own expectations.
I constantly strive to make the best out of the worst of things. I try to find happiness in the boring day-to-day most trivial of things. But it had started to feel that my life missed its purpose and staying at home was a complete waste of my education.
Life isn’t perfect for anyone and I am no exception. And for a stay-at-home mom like me, it can feel quite discouraged at trying so hard at a job that apparently has very little thanks to offer. People have been saying for ages that having and raising kids is hard. I plunged into it knowing the truth. And yet I was struggling to work through these “long days” of making life happen, day after day, every day.
But does that mean I look down upon stay-at-home moms? No, I don’t. In fact, I have the highest regards for all the stay-at-home moms around the globe knowing how stressful life can be parenting these tiny humans. I have friends who are happy and content raising their kids staying at home. But the thing is I couldn’t picture myself in those shoes. I was having a hard time visualizing me just being a stay-at-home mom, and many a time I found myself thinking I was too smart to be simply that.
Getting tugged by conflicting feelings
Yet, I found questioning myself again. But don’t I enjoy seeing my son growing up? Don’t I love being a mother? Don’t I love watching him stand on the window babbling away calling out at chicken, pigs, cattle, and goats? Don’t I love being his “home?” And could I stand the idea of leaving him with a nanny and letting him get raised by a total stranger?
I was awfully restless as my thoughts and emotions began flooding and getting entangled in total disarray, making me more uncomfortable.
And it was then, amidst these conflicting feelings and vulnerable emotions, and amidst the perfectly-making-sense of “being unhappy” and “not being happy”, suddenly everything started to fall into place.
The existence of pain doesn’t always mean something’s wrong. It may at times mean that something’s right. Love doesn’t always call for us to follow the easy path or do the selfish thing; it asks us to do the right, the courageous, and the beautiful.
Finding gratitude in a thankless job
Motherhood is definitely a privilege that demands responsibility, but it never asks you to kill your sense of self. Shaarav is the most beautiful thing to have happened to me. He is the reason I wake up to every day. He gives me meaning and I love him with my life. I love being his mother and the fact that the life of this little soul depends on me. I am unquestionably privileged to have a miraculous baby to raise.
And the seemingly thankless job as a stay-at-home mom isn’t so thankless after all when those tiny hands hold me close to plant a kiss on the cheek, and I find myself reciprocating to them with my own gratefulness. Today I have the gratitude for life and these are emphatically the best years of my life.
It dawned on me that once these years go by they are not coming back. I realized that some things can wait while others can’t. Only I, as his mother, can mould and shape my child to become the best version of him he possibly can, letting him explore his passion and gifting.
I realized that my hopes and dreams can wait, but as a mother, I need to put my child’s needs above mine to raise a bright and smart kid who can make a difference. I understood that he was never on my way, rather he is the way. My child’s future depends on me, on the decision that I take today. And, his dependence on me has built the courage I need to make this decision.
Yes, I want to savour life’s precious fleeting moments with my child. Yes, I want to stay home for my kid. Because I want to be able to be content knowing that he is getting his mother to raise him and not a complete stranger. And my precious child is definitely worth wasting anything on.
So me being a stay-at-home mom is never a compromise. It is not even just a need. In the very wake of the hour, it is definitely a “conscious choice” that I make today for me, my kid and my family. And if I’m not happy now, I never will be.