Call it a paradigm shift, or the manifestation of a successful feminist movement, but women nowadays are no longer expected to simply stay home and look after the children and household. They are also expected to get a good education which leads to a career with a solid progression path.
It is taken for granted that women should be able to juggle the responsibilities of being a mother and career woman and excel at both. While it’s great that women have more options than ever before, one side effect is that women who don’t return to the workforce after having a baby are often viewed sideways and become subject to judgement and scorn.
As experienced by Ally, a Malaysian stay-at-home mum
She wrote an impassioned blog post about the pressures and criticism she faced when she decided to quit the work force to take care of her now 19-month old full time.
“None of my accomplishments, awards, merits and education matter once I tell people that I am now a stay-at-home-mum. Once people hear about my choice in life they’ve minimised me, whether unconsciously, out of care or condescendingly to someone who is uneducated, reclusive or that has made the biggest mistake in life by throwing it all away instead of making use of whatever I have for personal development.”
The criticism and condescension led to feelings of insecurity and shame. She found herself having to qualify herself by saying things like “Oh, I graduated with an Economics degree but I’m a mom now” or “I’ve worked for XXX but I gave it up to be a mom”.
I can identify with Ally in this regard
I too, quit my job to be a stay-home mom for the first 6 months of my daughter’s life and have only just returned to work part time. I too received all kinds of comments, ranging from “You’re wasting your degree and experience,” “You’ll have a hard time getting a new job,” and the most prevalent one, delivered with utmost scorn “You’re just being lazy!”
People, especially those who are childless, simply fail to realise what a huge job bringing up a little human is. As Ally eloquently says “My days are just as crazy, my problems are just as big, my boss (who is 19 month old) is just as demanding and unapologetic, my schedule goes overtime most days and when I’m not saving a stuffed bunny from drowning I take a 5 minute lunch break or hide in the toilet until my boss comes looking for me again.”
She concludes with saying that she has made peace with the fact that she is a stay-at-home mom and not everyone will be happy with it. And I too make it a practice to disregard the snide comments.
Because having choices means being able to do what’s best for ourselves and our babies. Because we know that these precious years can never be replaced, and we’re learning and growing with our children just as much as they learn and grow with us. So every single moment spent with them should be cherished and celebrated.