A letter from Stay at home mom(SAHM) to a working mom(WM).

Hello WM,

The day you stepped out of the house to work, that day my troubles doubled.

I am an educated, uptown Indian mom living in the United States. I choose to stay at home and taking care of the family. You decide to work and taking care of the family. Yet, your stepping out has made people question why I stay inside? Is that fair? 
You are adding to the family income that has made people question my value and worth? Is that fair? 
Your laptop bag and handbag have made people wonder why I don't have one? Your 8-5 work schedule has made people question what I do sitting at home? Your busy weekday and weekends have made people believe that I am a lazy person. Is that fair? 
And sometimes it's not the people. It’s your very own family and your very own child...each asking the same thing in a ‘family manner.' Isn't it unfair? 
I have newfound guilt of not being career-oriented, financially independent, and adding to the household income just because you chose to step out.

Dear WM-Apologies for that outrage. I am troubled. And I know that you are troubled too. You, too, have a story that I am aware of. You stepped out for a reason, work and manage home, shuttle like a cork between your personal and professional life, balancing to the point of being pushed to exhaustion and burnout. You have your guilt trips...I am aware. You are being torn...I know that. In that handbag of yours, there is a pediatric appointment note, a daily list of 'to do's, and a list of groceries too. Yes, you carry ‘home’ in your handbag and ‘work’ when you are busy cooking, putting kids to sleep, and dirty laundry for a wash. So unfair.

I will write more. My cooker is whistling, and I need to rush. Have to get kids from school.

See you soon.

They both made a choice stemming from personal preferences, and both want to be respected and accepted for those choices without the burden of guilt and the need to be answerable to everyone. But the respect shall never come unless THEY START RESPECTING THEIR CHOICES AND ACCEPTING THEM.

We all know that the honest answers are the ones that you give to yourself. This is about ‘Stay at Home Moms and their dilemma when people ask them, “Don’t you work?”.
What do they answer?

·       Does that answer evoke doubt in themselves and their choice?

  • Can they help themselves here?
  • How do they do that?
  • Can they detach from society’s question as if it doesn’t exist?
  • Can they be at ease when such a question is hurled at them?
  • How do they find peace?

Is there a way out? NO …because there is only a way in-The inward journey.

Whatever be the choice, get the family involved first. Whatever be the choice, the family needs to participate in it. It can’t be, and it shouldn’t be your decision. Your husband, your children are important stakeholders who matter to you. A supportive and trusting family relationship is the biggest source of strength in any situation. This is no exception.

Reassess your needs, wants, and desires- Know them and write them down for yourself and the family. Where you can adjust and where it would be not easy. Many times wants, or desires can evoke strong feelings of inadequacy. It’s like this- “Had I been working, we would have more money to afford this fancy dress.” Yes, it goes down to that detail in real life. Once caught in this web, it only gets messy as more thoughts associate making one's self-esteem hit rock bottom.

Make well-informed decisions- The ones which you won't regret later- Oh, had I known this, I wouldn't have taken this step. For example, I have often witnessed H4 visa spouses lamenting how they were unaware that they could not work on a dependent visa or were irrationally optimistic that they would find a sponsor. Your decision should be based on your circumstances, family setup, family financial requirements, and personal ambitions. No assumptions or hunches, please.

Write it down- Trust, doing so will be beneficial in the long run. So that you know the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of a decision and can always refer when in doubt- self-created or society generated, you can go back and read, and you would know the answers well. Mind you, everybody’s journey is different. And you have the right to your journey and make choices which suit you and your family.  Not to forget that writing is therapeutic.  

Keep yourself productively employed- Irrespective of income. Often, it happens that SAHMs tend to talk as if they don’t have anything to do. They say to each other- “C'mon, you can come for that ladies brunch out. What will you do at home all day?” This might be said in a casual passing way, but it has the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The statement conveys the ample time available to SAHMs, the nonexistence of anything important that needs attention, and that ‘household work’ is not a big deal.

If you are the one who feels like this, try to keep such conversation at bay and keep yourself productively engaged. Enroll in a course. Develop a hobby. Develop a skill, get an online degree if that’s the obstacle in you becoming a WM. Adding will only help. If you intend to work in the future, prepare yourself by adding the necessary technical skills. If you don’t plan to work even then, invest your time wisely in learning something that will help your housekeeping, kitchen, finances, or the way you teach your child. It’s a significant and valuable investment.

If the regular and mundane household is not working for you and you still want to be a SAHM for your child, take up a part-time activity that gives you meaning and a purpose.

That brings us to PURPOSE- It’s the sense of purposelessness that is depressing, where you feel that you are merely existing, a cog in the wheel of life. Regular household chores are not meant to be creative and exciting pursuit. It tends to throw you into a feeling of being ‘always cleaning and moping.' That is why having a larger, bigger, and different purpose is essential. When you start being proactive and actively engage in purposeful activity, you will find more meaning in your life. It’s for you to sit and think and write down what it is that you like doing, want to do, have time to do, and can actively immerse yourself in doing that. It would be just one small step, but better than not taking a step at all.

Actively engage in your Goal- The difference between I can and I will. Stemming from Steven Covey’s work -7 habits of highly effective people- He wrote this book way back in 1989, but the worth of his words is relevant even today. One has to focus one's energies, efforts actively, and power for the most significant effect. It’s called focus and committing well to the goal. It’s vital to ‘concentrate sufficiently,’ Covey writes. Daydreaming and merely writing plans will not help. That’s just the first step.

Please, get your breath of fresh air and your daily dose of exercise- Studies have proven time and again how physical activity is linked to our overall feeling of well-being. For example, a study has estimated that by 2020 depression will surpass cancer and become the second most common cause of disability and death. When we exercise, our body releases a hormone called endorphins that interact with the brain's receptors to reduce pain perception. Studies show that they trigger a positive feeling much the same as Morphine would do.

Actively learn to focus on areas of influence more than areas of concern in your Life- It’s an active process, and you have to be in charge so that later it becomes your habit. Coming from Steven Covey and his book, I apply it to my life every day. Proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about: health, children, problems at work. They know that there are things outside their control, and they cannot be investing their time and energy where you have little control.

Organize your home Life- I don't recommend making a trip to the parlor every week to pep yourself up. That is but just one teeny weeny part. But if you think it helps you, you must make a trip. Schedule your home life so that you don't find yourself in a nightgown until it's time for the kids to come. Organize your home, have a schedule and that will give you more control and a feeling of well-being.

Your friends matter- Seek the right company and limit your time on Facebook and WhatsApp. Learn to say no to online or offline socialization, which later makes you feel useless. Doesn’t it happen to us? We spend hours blinking at FB, and then it destroys our peace where we find comparing ourselves to all those who vacationed in Paris or Hawaii. We process it to the extent of feeling ‘worthless.'
“If you hang out with chickens, you're going to cluck, and if you hang out with eagles, you're going to fly.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience.

Pray or Volunteer- For me, both are the same. Gratitude is curative. Gratitude is invigorating. It makes you realize the importance of now and all that you have and value it. Trust, millions can only dream of what you have and spend entire life dreaming that and one day dies with that dream. It's when you take things for granted that they lose their value.  The home that you have, your kids, your life partner, warm food at the table every day and a warm bed to sleep, shelter over your head, and a loving family…it’s just enough.

As I say to myself, everyday-If it bothers me, I will do something about it. 


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