I quit my job when I got pregnant with my daughter and have been a SAHM (Stay-at-home-mom) since then. I didn’t have to stop working so early on in my pregnancy, I could have easily worked until I had gone into labor, but I did. The story is that when I finally conceived my baby after years of trying, my normally sensible and reasonable husband lost his mind. He nervously watched every step I took and treated me like I was a Faberge egg. I am sure he spent the early weeks of my pregnancy awake all night, worrying that I would dislodge the baby from my uterus because I moved too vigorously when changing sides in my sleep. Every day when I went to take a shower, he looked at me as if wanting to say, “Do you really have to? Why would you risk standing on a slippery floor?” Needless to say, some of his paranoia rubbed on to me and we decided that getting hurriedly ready in the morning and driving on the bumpy roads of Riyadh to get to work was simply not worth the risk and I quit my job.
Nearly three years have gone since then, and while I do not particularly miss the work I used to do, I often miss the thrill of getting dressed in the morning, the good friends I made at work, the opportunity to have conversations with adults on subjects other than my kid’s bowel movements and of course all the extra money we had with two incomes. But it is not as if I could go back to work even if I wanted to. We live too far from both sets of parents, the child care in Riyadh is not too reliable and I would never trust a nanny enough to leave my daughter with her, unless I had my mother or mother-in-law watching her every move.
Nevertheless, every few months, I get this itch of wanting to go back to work. I hope I don’t offend anyone when I say that while motherhood is rewarding and fulfilling, it is also lonely and boring. Taking care of a child is exhausting work and believe it or not, it is a thankless job! If you are lucky enough to have a good partner, once every few days, he might appreciate all you do for the family and the sacrifices you have made. But compared to what you put up with in the process of raising a child, day in, day out, it is not enough. I don’t really know what I am asking for here and I certainly don’t need a great accolade from society for staying at home to raise my daughter, a choice that I made, BUT IT IS VERY HARD WORK!!! So on the days that I am feeling depressed about having to stay at home, or am drained from the constant demands of my child (which only I can fulfill, even if her father is sitting right next to me) or am simply having a bad day, I like to remind myself that there are quite a few positives of my Stay-at-home-mom position. Today I would like to share the silver lining I have created around this, sometimes dire situation, to assure myself of how blessed I am.
- Being at home with my daughter means that I have the time and energy to raise her exactly as I want. Don’t get me wrong, she is not a perfect angel by any means. In fact, she should be the poster child for “The headstrong and out of control toddlers’ association”. Yet I feel that I have been able to give as much attention as I should to her eating and sleeping habits, which to me, are vital to raising a happy child. I am also working hard on her discipline. I am not there yet, still have a long way to go, but I am consistent and therefore, hopeful. I believe that this is also because I am always with her, which means that I can follow through with any warnings I give her or the threats I make.
- Since this is the first time after I graduated that I have been without a job for such an extended period of time, I actually got the opportunity to do something I love. I have always enjoyed writing, so I started this blog which has become an essential part of our family life and is an important contributor to my happiness. Through blogging, I explored photography and discovered that I quite like it too and am not half bad. There are a few more things that I am working on which I might never even have considered doing had I gone straight back to work after my maternity leave. So I suppose it is safe to say that my SAHM situation allows me to explore and discover my own self.
- I love my husband (a well-known fact) and I am very proud that without any financial input from my side, he is able to provide us a good enough life style including all the unnecessary indulgences and luxuries I used to treat myself to with my own salary. I watch him working super hard and constantly exerting himself to improve and progress, not just for himself but also out of his love and devotion to me and our daughter. I love him more each day as I watch him determined to be able to provide us with everything we could possibly wish for.
- The greatest relief of being a SAHM for me is that I am always there for my daughter when she is unwell. This is one area where I see most working moms struggle, trying to make their way around work and deadlines, often having to deal with non-accommodating colleagues and having to leave their sick children in day cares with a broken heart. I honestly consider being at home a blessing when my sick child needs cuddles, chicken soup and her nose wiped a thousand times a day.
- I like that because I spend so much time with my daughter, I do not suffer from as much mom-guilt as working mothers do. I don’t even bat an eyelid before sending her to time-out thirty times a day (yes, I have to do it this many times most days). I don’t, at all, mind saying no to her when she wants a piggy back ride from me and I am tired and I easily look away when she doesn’t eat her vegetables at dinner time. And this is all because I have done enough mothering for the both of us in the first half of our day.
- A great thing about being a SAHM to a child who is still not in school is that you can create your own routine based on what works for your family. You are not guided by work hours to start and end your day. I have developed a good, solid routine around my daughter’s nap times and I consistently follow it, come rain or shine. This ensures that I know exactly when I can have time for myself and how much I can accomplish each day. This also means that I sometimes stretch my day by being a little flexible with my own bed time. If I am taking a course, writing or simply reading a book, I am not really stressed out about getting it done by a certain time because like working moms, I don’t have to fight a million fires before I get to work on time each morning.
- The greatest skill I have acquired by being a SAHM is my new found ability to make friends. Before this, “making” friends had never been a task. I had great friends in school who saw me to university, awesome university friends as tightly-knit as sisters and then pretty good work friends. The moment I decided to stay at home to raise my daughter, I discovered how lonely it gets if your friends are not going through the same things as you in life. And after an entire year of near social isolation, I decided that I will make an effort to “make” friends. I don’t have a huge gang, but I have found a few like-minded people around me who I like to chat with about potty training and the craze that is Baby Shark! It’s not too bad anymore.
I genuinely consider myself blessed that I get to spend so much time simply observing my daughter develop, grow and change. All day, every day (even if we are getting on each other’s nerves by mid-morning). And I am lucky that I have always been with her for all her firsts so far. And even though there are days when I wish that she would magically grow into school age and I could get back to being a professional, I honestly don’t know how I would manage our lives when that day comes. To me, all mothers are heroes, but working mothers are super-heroes. How they battle on so many fronts and end up raising kind, smart and reasonable children is beyond my understanding. I know that I might have to join the working moms club one day and figure all this out for myself, but until then I will revel in the fact that I am around to appreciate every piece of crap my beyond beautiful child shoves in my face every day.
Thanks for reading. Cheers!