While we keep on reiterating the importance of stay at home moms and the need to respect a woman’s decision if she wants to be one, there is rarely any conversation around what their lives are like. Pakistani society emphasizes again and again that a woman needs to stay home post marriage because that is how our culture has evolved and internalized that a man needs to be the breadwinner of the family.
But at the same time, a stay at home mom’s life is rarely understood beyond the fact that these women have nothing to do the entire day, so whatever workload you put on them, they must comply because they are not doing much during the entire day anyway.
What people do not understand is that in order to push people to understand the women who choose to be stay-at-home moms, it is important that we understand their lives and the emotions that they go through
It does shock people that despite glorifying women who stay at home, no one really understands how life is like for them. Everyone just assumes how easy their life must be and how they must get a lot of time to rest because they are not working.
We got in touch with women who are stay-at-home moms and decided to ask them the most difficult thing about their decision of staying at home. The answers are varied and open up several new discussions about these moms and about our understanding of their lives.
The most common misconception about them is that they just sit at home and waste time
Aneela Hamid is a mother of two and her entire day is spent working non-stop for her children and her husband.
“It is so difficult to convince people that I am working round the clock and there is no break. People just expect me to work and also be very good at it. I cannot ask for breaks, I cannot say no when I am tired and I cannot even talk about not wanting to carry on this thankless routine forever.”
Imagine having to convince people 24/7 that your life is not a waste and you are spending your time actually working. This is your entire life and there is no way around it. You have to keep on explaining yourself to people who will never experience being in your shoes but still have opinions about it.
Many also assume that since you decide to be a stay-at-home mom, you must be very orthodox and must have been forced into making that decision
While there is no denying that in a society like Pakistan, many women have this decision taken for him but there are many who choose this life out of their own accord and no one can label it as backward or orthodox because no one has the right to. This means having to prove your intellect in a society that already considers women sub-human and emotionally weak to get their decisions right.
Shaista Khan decided to be a stay-at-home mom. She was working till five months into her pregnancy but decided that she wanted to stop working and stay at home for the baby.
“I made the decision to stay at home purely because I wanted to. I decided that I want to be there for the kid for the first couple of years and then get back to work. I do not think that there is anything wrong with that but people around me seem to believe that I no longer the empowered woman that I used to be.”
We might not realize it but stay-at-home moms tend to also get very lonely
Farah Saeed has a toddler who has recently started school and she talks about how lonely the entire experience is.
“We are raised in a manner that does not promote female friendships and hence we get very lonely. Husbands do not generally have the time to listen to our experience of being at home because they have worldly matters to think about – this pushes us into depression and with the lack of mental help available, it is very tough to keep yourself stable. There have been so many times that I have been extremely lonely and just wanted someone to listen to me but no one has the time to listen to just another woman talking about things that women have gone through for ages.”
Many also witness a loss of identity with this new journey
Nazia Khan is in her 50s now. She has spent most of her life being a stay at home mom and that has become her only identity.
“No one cares about your likes and dislikes beyond your children and your husband. You have to start completely new and adapt to this new personality which is just about the family. And this is primarily because no one cares or bothers what you do otherwise.”
Financial dependence is a matter of grave concern
Sadia Hassan worked before she got married but had to give up her job because of the societal concerns and concerns of her in-laws too.
“We, as women, learn this from our own households. A lot of the decision-making powers lie in the hands of the male because they earn. This means never having the space to decide what to spend on and what not to spend on and waiting for a male to hand you money for your own needs. This is one of the most difficult tasks to put up with. Financial independence in a system like ours provides you space to breathe but the lack of it can be very suffocating.”
Everyone takes a stay-at-home mom for granted. There is no space for their emotions or their needs
They need to adapt and they need to adapt fast. Everyone around them will have expectations of how they should be and what they should provide them but no one will understand how tough that life is. No one will offer help and you are expected to not take any time off.
Maheen Shahrukh says that she has three kids and despite managing all the housework, she has to put up with people taking her for granted.
“No one seems to realize the amount of effort that goes into keeping a house running. They think that we keep on sitting idle and the house runs on its own.”
The irony is that women who have been through this process make it even more difficult because they make everyone around believe that since they made it through, no other woman should ever complain and put up with all that is thrown their way.
cover image via newsonline.com