I know. I know. It has been a while. But it is great to be back!
I want to share something with you that has been eating at me for a while now……
“Yes, but you don’t work….”
I stared in shock and disbelief at a so-called friend who I had not seen in ages and who I was very much looking forward to catching up with. I had engaged a teenage niece to take care of my little ones so that I could go meet with said friend and another.
We had been laughing and reminiscing; complaining about how dieting was sucking the fun out of life and speaking of life what would we not give for a few extra hours in the day just for ‘me-time’?
My two colleagues (both of whom have high powered corporate jobs) seemed puzzled that I was including myself in the ‘there are not enough hours in the day for me to do all that needs getting done’ train since I apparently ‘do not work’ . After all, stay at home moms are supposed to have all the hours at their disposal.
At the time of this incident, Little Man was barely three months old; Princess was still in diapers and Junior was only just starting to adjust to another newcomer in the family. It had taken days of planning to be able to even make this reunion.
Needless to say, I went back home thinking: ” that’s two hours of my life I am not going to get back.”
I have been a ‘stay at home mom’ at various points during my life; mostly surrounding the births of my kids up to three or more years after that.
Contrary to popular belief choosing not to work outside the home does not equal long leisurely walks, or dinners or leisurely anything!
In fact quite the opposite. Just because you do not have a nine to five job does not mean you have no demands on your time. Or that you are any less of value. Or that you are somehow ‘second class.’ Or the all time favourite: a traitor to womankind for having a choice but opting for that.
While being a stay at home mum, I did what every mother does whether she stays at home or otherwise. I supervised homework, I did the housework (house help is relatively inexpensive in Kenya but for many years we didn’t have that option). I organised our lives, I disciplined, I cooked, I attended school meetings, I fell into bed exhausted most days like many moms. I thank Allah for JD who has been a hands-on Dad from the word go.
But I also took several courses to advance myself, my education and my spiritual life. I did very fulfilling part time work when I could find it, I wrote, I volunteered, I contributed. I (voluntarily) put my salary from the few hours of “REAL WORK” I did to the running of the household (as do millions of other stay at home mothers like me)
I don’t know about elsewhere but here in Mombasa stay at home moms, aside from the demands of running a household and overseeing (and yes, sometimes micromanaging) their kids’ lives, have other interests.
Many have home based businesses like making and selling of local street snacks; many are seamstresses (many generations of the women in my family including Mom, her sisters, JD’s aunts have been and still are) Others are expert henna artists, beauticians, and private mathematics and English tutors (Once upon a time I belonged to this group also)
Sadly, all the grief stay at home mothers are given come from other women. I would have thought that we would unite in solidarity and support each others’ choices but there have been many a time a sister has come up to me and said she wishes she could buy my education, my degree and the diploma itself (literally buy it from me and change the name) because I was wasting it staying home. “You could be making big bucks from it.”
But let us assume for an instant that all stay at home mothers do nothing to advance themselves, their net worth or contribute not a shilling to the household budget. Let us assume they are not even remotely interested in the above. Let us assume that all they do or want to do is ensure that their homes run smoothly, their children and their other half are happy, fed and are where they need to be at any given moment in time. To me, that is noble enough and even honourable.
If it is a choice they have made willingly, who are we to judge?