They used to be called “tai-tais” or housewives but as Mabel shares with you, today’s generation of stay-at-home mothers (which she feels is a more politically correct and genteel sounding term) are a far cry from the traditional stereotypes.
I must state first and foremost that this piece is merely about the trials of being a stay-at-home mother. It doesn’t demean or ignore the energy and effort working mothers put into caring for their families and home.
I never really thought of becoming a stay-at-home mother until I got pregnant with my eldest child. At that time, I was living abroad in a foreign country after having moved to join my equally foreign husband. I was running a little business of my own but for the most part, I was a stay-at-home wife. So it seemed natural to continue on the tangent and evolve into a stay-at-home mother. As I gave it more thought, I began to feel that I was making the right choice. I wanted to be there to witness my children’s milestones, soothe their downs, celebrate their joys and essentially give all that I can give to them – time, energy and eventually, my sanity.
A few people I knew thought that I was wasting my postgraduate education (which came from plenty of money and time); some even went so far as to say that the women of today should strive to build a career and not a family. It would seem that my decision was starting to offend my bra-burning sisters who were all for the independence and freedom of women. As word of my decision spread to my family and friends, you could see two camps starting to form and they were not equal in strength at all. It would seem that the idea of being a stay-at-home mum was offensive to some.
“You’ll be out of touch with the world.”
“Your husband will get bored of you and find another woman.”
“You’ll be boring because it’ll just me about the kids, kids, kids.”
“You’ll be at the whim and fancy of your husband and he’ll treat you like a doormat.”
I didn’t know whether to feel insulted for myself or my husband. At that time, the decision was made and I reminded my parents that at the end of the day, what is important now is no longer what I need but what my children need and they need a stay-at-home parent more than I need a job. It has been three years and I am a stay-at-home mother to two gorgeous children. I still encounter people who raise an eyebrow when I tell them that my job is taking care of my children. My close friends and family know that it is more than just that.
Those of us with children would know that parenting isn’t easy and those of us who are stay-at-home mums have a really tough job being a jack of all trades and to some degree, a master of many. We have become the cheerleader, janitor, maid, laundry woman, chef, short order cook, designer, mover, educator, referee, chauffer and entertainer (singing, storytelling, dancing, whatever that rocks your kid’s boat).
A typical day for me begins at 7am when I wake up to get both kids ready for breakfast. My daughter who has to be in kindy by 8:30am needs to get her hair tied; a preventive measure against lice (a plague, if you ask me!), so that means I have to play the hairdresser. Luckily for me, my son is content to play by himself while I comb, tie and braid her hair. There is the mad rush to stuff breakfast into both kids so I have to either cook or serve up something. After the kids are done, I have to clear the breakfast table and drop the eldest off at kindy before reaching home to give my son his morning bath. That means entertaining him and dealing with his dirty clothes and diapers and cleaning up after cleaning him up him – dry the bathroom, get rid of his bath water, and so forth.
He gets some play time on the floor for the next one hour and if I’m lucky, he will allow me to go online, check my emails – most of the time, its when I call home and talk to my parents via Skype. Before long, oops, it’s 9am – time for my son’s nap. It takes about 15 minutes to put him to bed and once he is asleep, I am off to do my other chores – prepare lunch, tidy up the house, check on the laundry (there is always some laundry to do every day!).
When 11am rolls around, I wake up my son ( if he’s not awake yet ) and get ready to pick my daughter up from kindy. This means running errands like a mad woman and once the kids are at home, it’s rushing to cook lunch, set the table so that my hubby can have a comfortable meal-time once he steps through the door. By this time, I am worn out and it’s not even half a day yet. This is when I tell myself that all those people who think I just sit at home and do nothing seriously have no idea what mums like me do on a daily basis. How I wish I could just sit down and do nothing!
The afternoon is pepped with a nap for both kids (which means some “me” time where I squeeze in some knitting, design work and emails), homeschooling the eldest (she’s on phonics, basic concepts, numbers and so forth – this is where my postgraduate education comes in) and preparing dinner. I also have to play the entertainer, lifeguard/referee in the evenings when the kids get together and play with each other. It can be really emotionally draining trying to keep track of who did what to who!
Gosh, it’s tiring to even try to list exactly what I do! All I can say is that by the time 8pm rolls around and the kids are winding down for their bedtime, it is still not over. I still have the kitchen to tidy up, laundry to fold and my exercise regime to go through. Yes, to stay fit and all, I squeeze in 20 minutes of exercise. It has been ages since I last went to bed before midnight. Gone are the days when I had the time for facials and have nice quiet soaks in the bathtub.
Oh, the routine is the same on weekends and holidays.
Yes, life is pretty much a whirlwind of activities and at times, it can get really crazy but you know something? I wouldn’t trade or give it up for anything…not even a million trillion bucks!