I hated being called a stay-at-home mom.

Never once in my life did I think I’d be calling myself a stay-at-home mom. In fact, I used to be ashamed of being labelled such. I get this fancy title but all it really means is, “Ah, nag-aalaga lang ng bata sa bahay.” At least this is what I always get from people. I don’t mean to offend my fellow stay-at-home moms. I’m just telling my story.

But yeah, I do exactly that, plus other things like being a wife and constantly trying to be good at everything and failing at the same time. I would spend so much time preparing my daughter’s food, which she would spit out later on. I would make a grocery list for the whole week only to leave it on the table on my way out.

I also work part-time as a freelance writer and digital marketer for a bunch of Canadian magazines and do other projects from time to time. Yes, I’m fortunate to have someone else who takes care of the household chores for me. But more often than not, I still feel I have too much on my plate. I’ve never visited the salon in almost a year, never stayed out with friends for more than three hours, never had a decent movie date with hubby.

stay-at-home-mom

Family is forever.

Still, at the end of the day, I would feel all used up. Apart from the tiny fingernail scratches on my neck courtesy of my daughter, I’d feel nothing. Just a deep, bottomless nothing. Because I don’t even know who I am anymore. Other than being the one who “takes care of the kid,” I don’t know who else I would be.

My husband—because he’s the nicest person in the world—would ask me what I want as a gift, and I wouldn’t know what to ask for. It’s like I don’t have any goals at all, no bucket list to tick, nothing to be classified as a “want.” Then I’d realize that maybe I need a break from all of this, a day when I won’t mom. Of course, it’s not something that could be granted that easily.

At some point, I thought that being a stay-at-home mom was not for me, that I’d be better off being my old career-junkie self. When I was single, I was the family’s co-breadwinner. That means juggling 9-to-5 jobs with freelance projects and working until midnight to help support my family. I used to be always at the top of my game and people look up to me. And now, everything’s changed and sometimes I still find it hard to accept that.

I know some single ladies who are even more domesticated than I am, and I get irritated whenever someone would say “O, mas magaling pa si ____ sa’yo mag-alaga!” Or worse, she would step in and do the job for me. I know their efforts are full of good intentions but I can’t help but feel sour. Why does it come naturally for some women? How can they manage to be so good at it?

Now I’m having more freelance projects coming my way and I need to get back on track to earn for my growing family. So I’m handing my baby over to her new yaya and I’m having separation anxiety. Yesterday, while I was working in our home office, she walked from the door to my desk (her daddy opened the door for her) and I was so consumed with happiness. It was the first time she walked across the bare floor without help. I thought, maybe being a stay-at-home mom is not so bad after all. In fact, they’re right—motherhood is the best job in the world. And being a stay-at-home mom is a privilege granted to only a few. So I should be proud of myself. Damn, I am proud of myself!

I would catch my daughter doing her penguin walk across her playpen and I’d be LMAO. It’s the cutest thing in the world. I am beyond happy to have witnessed her milestones—from the moment she opened her eyes to the time she had her first meal, her first beach experience and now her first tiny steps, I never missed a thing. To other people, I may just be the other half of the couple who “takes care of the kid.” But to my daughter—and to my husband—I am the one who will “always be there” no matter what. I may let them down sometimes but there’s so much room for improvement. God give me more strength so I won’t ever think of giving up.

I can’t speak on behalf of all the SAHMs out there, but I’m hoping that, in my own way, I was able to inspire you. People don’t understand what it’s like and maybe they’ll never do, and it’s not their fault. You are a good mom because that’s what your family needs, not because that’s what society wants from you. And whatever you do, whether you are squeezing Netflix in between baby’s naptime, feeding your kid cereals or asking hubby to buy you overpriced lingerie, you are doing a GREAT JOB. I can’t imagine how this very world could turn without you. So chin up and own it.

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