One particular afternoon, I broke down.
Undone laundry, piles of unfolded clothes, a dirty kitchen, loaded sink, messy home and on top of everything, cranky screaming toddlers. I had been through an emotional upheaval and I would like to have a break from this insanity. But I was definitely not having my day.
Earlier that morning somewhere else, a working-mom in her impeccable attire, stepped out of the messy unorganized home, (which the house keepers would clean), to go to a much cleaner and way more organized office where her clothes will stay in shape even after solid 8 hours. While I, in my night pajamas, was trying to calm down my toddlers, pacing forward and backward in an attempt to feed them breakfast, dealing with the milk spills on the floor and was not thinking about pressing my clothes to dress up because the 10 minutes that I would take in ironing them would go wasted in the next ten seconds, when the kids would want me to squat down on the floor so they could pretend I was a trampoline.
And while a working-mom worked on what she liked and punched away keys to get a boost of her self-esteem, been appreciated and promoted at her work place, got a bonus and a raise and got to greet collegues, I, the unpaid, penniless mopped the floor, did the dishes, fed my babies while thinking ways to clean up the tangy smell of diapers. I the unconfident, broke a cup, burnt a meal, forgot cleaning the washroom and felt utterly useless, unimportant and got a sag in my self-esteem.
I worked hard for years to be able to do audit, and was good at it if not the best. Besides I loved working and dealing with numbers and words and I was definitely not trained to do the dishes or at least like it. And despite my dislike, I would still wash dirty dishes and clean the house many times a day.
But again, the laundry would be undone, the floors would need mopping, the walls would need scrubbing, the meals and snacks would need to be ready every couple of hours – its a cycle of chores that just never ends. One after another awaits and still by the end of the day it would almost be like going back to level 1. It would be like you wasted a day and didn’t really attain anything solid in it. And that is a very unsatisfying feeling.
The hard work seemed futile. There is no sense of achievement and of course no appreciation for a desi-mom. No raise. No promotions. Not even a kind word or gesture.
So while the working mom often visited the masjid to gain a religious momentum I would clean up my toddler’s vomit or blow their nose or potty train them or nurse them or calm them down. And when she had important matters to discuss with her peers like fashion, technology, politics and socio-economics issues of the world, I would repeat story after story and nursery rhymes to my toddlers lulling them to sleep in their crib, craving badly for some adult meaningful conversation, longing to be in the company of grownups and be able to satiate my desire to actually talk.
Because after all the hard work of the day even my husband wouldn’t like to be disturbed; even he would want some free quality personal time.
I would sit down staring at my cell-phone browsing pinterest for any craft or educational idea to keep my kids busy and occupied the next day which can promise some sanity for me. Or try to find a new healthy recipe that they can actually like before I slip in bed with one of my toddler who needs to be nursed multiple times a night.
These unsaid issues, unsolved quarrels and un-communicated problems would bottle up for days and then that particular afternoon, frustrated and agitated, I broke down.
I didn’t know if my choice of staying at home and dealing with my kids is worth it? I didn’t know if all of my sacrifices will earn me anything, I didn’t know if I was missing out on life while raising my kids? I didn’t know if I would be less grumpy and actually happier with my kids if I were working and taking a break from this 24/7 parenting thing? And this was a strange overwhelming dilemma.
So I sat down at the floor, where both of my toddlers were standing and screaming and tugging onto my pants and broke down crying crazy.
In a split second, the screaming stopped; my shocked and confused toddlers became the counterparts of my parents, with one trying to wipe my tears with my own shirt and other hugging me saying that I should calm down and that all the nice kids wouldn’t cry.
That was the moment of realization for me. Those tears which I had shed in front of my toddlers cleared up the fog and I could clearly see two tiny worried faces trying their best to calm their mother. Their mother who is almost everything to them. This messy home wouldn’t matter to them, my own qualms wouldn’t matter to them, their own problems seemed little at that particular moment. And at that particular moment only I mattered.
So, they stopped and realized that their mother needed them then, and they hugged me. They offered me solace. They showered upon me with their love and kisses and we ended up laughing and cuddling.
It shone upon me like sun that day. The only people who actually ‘need’ me, who’s world will be effected by my presence or absence are the ones who gave birth to me and those who are born out of me. It is the sacred relation of a womb. My parents and my kids. For everyone else I may be important but replaceable. For everyone else I could never be the ‘only’ one, they could fairly well do without me too.
I also realized that this world is not a complete package; the working mom somewhere is also missing out on life – her life with her kids; but that’s what she has chosen for herself. And I am also missing out on many things in life because of being a SAHM. And that is what I have CHOSEN for myself.
Once I had accepted that being a SAHM is not something forced on me by circumstance but instead it is something I have consciously chosen for myself and my kids – my mind stopped making me feel like a victim of life. I felt so powerful and somewhat in control of my own life. And I have actually started seeing and feeling joy in all the daily trivial mundane pursuits of being a SAHM.
I began to mentally note down the reasons of my choice to be a SAHM – because I want my kids to see my smiling face when they wake up from their naps, I want to pick them up myself every single time they fall down, I want to wipe every tear myself, I want to see them grow every single day and every single hour. I want to witness them conquer all of their milestones, I want to hold them every single time they are distressed, and I want to pamper and love them so much that love and care overflows out of them for others.
Because this one job of raising my kids – no one can be better at than myself.