“All day long, I sit at my sunny window, staring at the cerulean sky dotted with real birds and motor-birds. I look at the moms and dads who are forever running to work in their hurried best, and I feel so blessed watching them from my eighteenth floor balcony. All day long. When I’m not looking at the sky, I lounge on the sofa, twirling fresh hand-picked Red Globe grapes in my mouth, watching soaps on the tele and sipping on luxurious teas; the hedonism of my ‘housewifey’ life interspersed with peppery talks with my equally jobless friends about my MIL.”
That’s what I do being a stay-at-home mom.
Thank you for the amazing question, and yes, I do notice the enchanting disbelief in your eyes.
It would be a meaningless cliche if I tell you what the question is.
Stay-at-home mom. A term that a lot of people often use disdainfully while trying to figure out what these moms do the whole day, and while just shrugging them off as housewives who don’t know how to ‘kill’ their time. But that is not what I want to talk about here. The point that I’m trying to make here is that we often overlook the real strong women behind these mom-faces, and how we stereotype them as just ‘women with kids’.
Strangely, and sadly enough, what the world fails to understand is that stay-at-home moms have made a wilful decision of being with their kids at their formative years, a decision that is unparalleled in its own, and a decision that is a product of conscious deliberation and extreme gumption. They have not made a sacrifice. They have chosen to be with their kids wilfully. The sad part is that we often end up putting these women into a nondescript bucket without actually looking at who they are as individuals. We never ask them what they are capable of because we have already written them off. They are perceived as just the bearers and the rearers of babies.
I’ve personally tested two scenarios: the first, in which I’ve introduced myself as a mom only; and the second, in which I’ve mentioned that I’m a budding entrepreneur. The second introduction sparks interest and follow-up questions appear (obviously), but the first introduction dies a natural death at the mention of ‘mom.’ It is true that there is no intention to belittle, but not a single person has ever asked what I did before I became a mom.
Let’s face the truth that being with a mini-me 24/7 is taxing and emotionally draining. We all have been there, and we all have felt isolated at some point in time. On the positive side, this is when moms make friends; at the park, the paediatrician’s, at daycares or at nurseries. During the time when I was a complete SAHM, I’ve made a lot of new friends who are moms; mostly stay-at-home. And what I’ve discovered is that behind a lot of these moms are actual strong identities, strong people, intelligent minds. In the last 4 years, I’ve met mums who have been Professors, Lecturers, Illustrators, Biologists, Language experts, and Artists. It has been fascinating to know such wonderful people from different spectrums of life who have revealed gems of personalities beneath their frizzy uncombed hairs and faces tired with babysitting. However, the same professors, biologists, artists are often quietly put aside as just mothers, with no focus on who are as individuals, or who they have been.
Having said everything above, it is also extremely positive to note that most of today’s SAHM’s have ignored the naysayers and are not letting themselves just be moms. They are fulfilling all their motherly duties, and are actually carving out time to nurture an interest, or a passion, or a business right from their homes. They are still growing as individuals while being moms. That is exactly what can bring about a massive change in the way they are perceived.
Ryan has ‘startup ideas’ very frequently. Almost every other day, he comes up with a new ‘startup idea.’ Not only that, he tells us his idea with a lot of excitement and animation. With rolling bright eyes, and hands gesturing the fluidity of his explanation, he ends pitching his idea with raised eyebrows and a question: ‘good idea?’ His mouth generally remains open when he asks this question and his eyebrows still remain highly arched in anticipation of a ‘Yes, Ryan, good idea.’ When I speak in the affirmative, the open mouth easily moulds into a smile. When he sees that the proposal is not met with a lot of enthusiasm, he insists that the idea is ‘really good,’ which, obviously, makes me break into a laughter.
We make sure to applaud his efforts, his thinking, and his explanatory skills each time he proposes an idea. Two of his lightbulb thoughts are as follows:
IDEA 1. He wants to repair torn pants. Hilarious right? He got this idea when he saw his dad disheartened one fine morning.
The dad was getting ready for office, and was about to wear his favorite trousers when he discovered that the trousers were torn at an unmentionable spot. And the tear was visibly there, unmistakable, and gaping. The dad gave a scream of sorrow, and on hearing it, the son ran to get some tape (scotch tape, precisely) to cover up the rip. He got some tape and insisted on putting it on the tear in the pants. I feel that the dramatic sorrow of the dad triggered the idea more than the ripped pants, and the entrepreneurial innocent heart came up with the thought of repairing torn clothes for ‘evvverybody.’
IDEA 2. The second idea is actually a good one. Very user friendly I must say. Ryan wants to build more ergonomic elevators by putting two control panels inside elevator cars instead of one!
It is remarkable that he noticed that elevators have only one control panel inside. Only people who are close to the panel find it easy to press the required button for a floor. If the elevator is a big one, passengers standing on the opposite corner have to make way for themselves to press a button, or request someone to do it for them. Ryan’s creativity processed really fast one afternoon, and he suggested having two control panels instead of one. He proposes that there should be two panels on two sides of the door or on two opposite walls so passengers on both sides find it easy to select their floors. The idea floored me, and I hugged him out of motherly pride.
I am yet to figure out the exact reason why there is only one buttons panel in an elevator car. Can you can be a good samaritan and tell me the precise reason for this design?
He has a lot more such lightbulb moments and we are cherishing them!
“Two times today I was metaphorically slapped on my face and told ‘What a terrible mom you are,’ once by a total stranger, and once by someone close. Seeing tears in my eyes, my 5 year old hugged me, and we cried together.”
That’s what a friend told me today. It left me thinking. This is not just one instance when I’ve heard this from a mom, it is probably the n-th time.
She also told me how sentimentally stupid she felt to not control her tears before her baby, and how unhealthy it was to have broken down in front of the kid. She explained to the kid that sometimes moms are sad, and that was one moment when his mom was sad.
What kept me thinking was that, often, we are judged instantly, and a judgement is passed that makes the person feel how incompetent she is as a mother. She may not even fight back, considering that she is tired doing it over the years and has finally found it futile to give it back, or probably, she is really hurt about it. Especially when the judgement comes from someone close. For a lot of moms I’ve met, it eats into their confidence and drags them further into a slump. For a lot of them, they may silently cry when the kid goes to sleep. For a lot of them, it moves them one step closer to getting depressed. For a lot of them, they may go into a rage right in front of the kid. Whatever their reaction is, the end result is bad.
Being a mom myself, I feel these hard situations are rampant, and every mom has been made to feel terrible at least once for being the ‘kind of mom’ she is. Getting to hear one positive remark of being a ‘good’ mom is in itself almost rare. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not asking everyone around to shower great words for a mom because of what she does for a kid. A mom very well knows her duties, and all she does for her kid is unconditional. It is purely out of her love for the kid that she keeps up all night when the baby is unwell. It is purely unconditional love when she can hold up her own calls to nature when the baby is crying, and it is purely her motherly love when she can hug and console a crying kid the way nobody can do it. Sometimes, not even the father. Yes, I said that.
Since we moms don’t expect to be tagged ‘good’ by someone, we also don’t expect to be tagged ‘bad’ by anyone. Making a judgement is easy, raising a kid is not. There are ups and downs that all moms go through, but we are still trying to give our best shot to the kid.
What we need to tell our judgement gurus is to hold the judgement before they let it slip across their lips, and look for a better moment to explain things to a mom if situations are really not happy. It is easy to say ‘hey, you are incompetent as a mom,’ but it is difficult to step into the same mom’s shoes for a mere 24 hours.
It is not just another mommy rant. It is a genuine feeling.
(Note that Im not writing this for extreme cases when a child is being hit or abused. Im speaking for balanced women who had been/are in a decent career, and who know what comes out of their mouths when they speak. Im also considering single dads in the same boat.)
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for a tiny, few years now. Though I’ve been true to the nomenclature ‘stay-at-home,’ ( I don’t know where else I would have stayed otherwise), I have been almost as much in a professional domain as any other working mom. It is just that I’ve not really attended meetings in person, or sent out worksheets, or talked to clients, or been to an office office per se, but I’ve constantly remained in mainstream work with the little time I had in hand. Now that I am making a direct foray into work, I looked back and revisited questions asked to me by other moms and some of my friends who have seen just that mommy face of mine. Here they go:
1.’You have a laptop?’ with eyebrows shooting up to the stratosphere. Im too flabbergasted to reply. What is the big deal if I have a laptop?
2.’You use a power bank? For what?’ Oh gosh, this one! What can a power bank do?
3.’Eh, you don’t watch Bigg Boss? But you are at home right?’ I fail to understand the connection between Bigg Boss and my being at home!
4. ‘Whose Macbook was that in your house?’ I reply ‘Mine.’ Pop comes the followup question ‘Yours??!’ The reaction is often surprising to me, and the reason could be that the people who asked me this were Windows users.
5. The master blaster question ‘What do you do the whole day?’ Again a question that doesn’t even deserve a rant. If I were to mention what I do from 5:00 in the morning till 11 in the night, you would want to run away.
It is fun and weird at the same time to answer questions of such an elevated nature. I have been honored to face such incarnations of curiosity, and I’d love to meet some more! Im sure there are a lot of such questions the SAHM group may have faced. What has been yours?
Flash tales from Ryan.
This happened a few months back when Ryan had just started formal schooling.
Aware that any food that drops on the floor is supposed to be thrown into the dustbin, Ryan makes sure that his food remains in its container and doesn’t really fall. However, being a kid, we all understand how ‘things just fall down on their own'(I am quoting him) when he eats.
Let me note here that he is a chatterbox, and we come to know of everything that happens in his class, or anything new that he may have seen at school. Well yes, until now, he is a radio station for his class.
Apparently, one day, a piece of fruit had fallen down from his snack box. Ryan, strangely, picked it up and ate it. When he came home, he started telling his ‘school-stories’ with excitement. Suddenly, he came to the fruit story. This was how the conversation between us went on:
Ryan with eyes rounded and eyebrows touching the stratosphere: ‘Mamma, today, an apple fell down from my snack box.’
Me: ‘Oh, only one piece fell or did all the pieces fall down?’
Ryan: ‘No, only one.’
Me: ‘Ok. What did you do with it?’ My happy mommy hopes were rising up to hear the word ‘trashcan.’ I heard it, but with a twist.
Ryan: ‘I ate it.’
Me: ‘What! You ate the apple that fell on the ground? Why?’ My happy-mommy hopes already dashed by then.
Ryan: ‘Mamma, I picked up the apple, and looked for the trash. But there was no trashcan in the class. So I ate it.’
My heart melted. I wanted to laugh out loud. I wanted to tell him the alternatives to the situation, but for the moment, I hugged him and laughed.
I love him for his spunk creativity and innocent spirit.
Flash tales from Ryan, Part 3.
What do I tell you about this kid?
Though he is just 4, he is already a conversationalist, and it is really fun to talk to him. Especially when he tries to reason out his actions or statements.
The same guest couple mentioned in Ryan Tales-2 was enjoying talking to Ryan. We were the audience.
‘Aunty’ to Ryan: ‘Ryan, who is your favorite cartoon character?’
Ryan without thinking or blinking: ‘Me. I’m my favorite cartoon.’
Aunty: ‘But why?’
Ryan:’Because my mamma calls me a cartoon sometimes. Thats why Im my favorite cartoon.’
We all had the moment of our lives. We laughed heartily, and seeing us laugh, Ryan understood that his statement of truth was really funny.
Trust me when I say that the boy has his nouns, pronouns, and verbs in place, and I don’t have to rephrase his spoken sentences at all.
Flash tales from Ryan, Part 2.
A guest couple came home, and fascinated by Ryan’s oratory skills and vocabulary, the ‘aunty’ asked him a lot of general knowledge questions. Ryan paid attention to some, shrugged off some, showed himself as extremely busy at some questions, and played pranks at some more. However, when he had started to warm up to some questions, he gave answers which stumbled us all. Here’s one.
Aunty to Ryan: ‘Ryan, which animal has the longest neck?’
Now, for those fraction of seconds when Ryan was about to answer, all of us, the shallow tea-sipping general bourgeois, limited our thoughts to the poor nondescript giraffe as the animal with the longest neck.
While we were just waiting for him to utter what our mind was speaking, he popped out ‘Dinosaur. Some dinosaurs.’
Alas, we couldn’t prove him wrong. As the mom, I could see that a Brachiosaurus was walking in Ryan’s mind.
Kudos to his creativity.
If you are following the ‘Ryan Tales’ series, here’s the first one – Ryan Tales.
Flash tales from Ryan.
Growing big day by day, he is learning more and more, questioning more and more, and making us laugh more and more. One such flash tale from him:
Ryan: ‘Mamma, I learnt about transport today. Road transport, tracks transport, water transport, and air transport.’ Smiles.
Me: ‘that’s so nice Ryan. So what did you learn about water transport? What are the modes of water transport?’
Ryan: ‘ Ship.’ Pause.
Ryan: ‘Boat.’ Pause.
Ryan: ‘And crocodile.’
I almost jumped out of myself and looked at his face. I didnt say much because I had a long laughter session that noon.
So this post is about not writing a post the last week.
Lots of things are happening, and all at the same time. Diwali is approaching(it had to anyways), and Im doing nothing about it but it has to be on the list; the kid has fallen sick real bad, is sleepless and doesnt really do much other than crying and hanging on my lap; I seem to be eating a lot because Im not sleeping (really, do people eat a lot when they dont sleep?), and Im going through the I’m-a-mommy phase with disheveled hair and pyjamas that are reeking of baby cream, olive oil, red and pink and colorless medicines, and soup. And yes, Im snapping at the smallest of issues which are probably not even issues.
So, with Diwali around, and the kid perched up on me, my day-long pyjamas refusing to let go of me, and my messy house that resembles a war torn fortress, Im almost a ball of nerve endings without the ends. If you know what that may mean. Definitely, blog posts will be post-dated.
On a side note, here’s a totally unrelated photo that had me laughing. It was taken at my kid’s birthday party by a kind friend who wanted to take photos, but forgot to focus on the faces. It was a totally ‘candid’ pic if thats what you may call it because he didnt want to click feet. ‘It just happened.’
If any of you can recognize your feet here, let me know.