If she looked fatigued by the end of the day, her husband would ask ‘Aaj aisa kya kiya?’ and she would have no answer. “Haan, aaj aisa kuch nahi kiya.”
Parul was once a young, bright girl with stars in her eyes and dreams of a successful career. Right after post graduation, she got a coveted role in a multinational company. Marriage happened soon after and life now, seemed perfect. The couple earned and had no kids- it was all like an extended honeymoon.
But then, she got pregnant. It was an unplanned chance pregnancy. And once she conceived, everyone told her that a child was a gift of God and abortion was out of question. And since both she and her husband were pleased to be parents, they embraced the baby with open arms.
Parul had never planned to be a stay-at-home-mum. But with that adorable bundle in her arms, she did not have the heart to leave the child and go work. She decided to extend her maternity leave till the child was at least a year old.
Once she was a year old, Parul looked for the best child care support. A visit to the day care centre somehow did not convince her. She wanted more homely atmosphere and felt her daughter was still too young for a structured atmosphere.
Parul tried to convince her parents or in-laws to help her out with childcare. But it wasn’t possible for them to leave their home and come live with them to raise their child. A little disappointed, she understood they could not disturb their entire world to fulfil what was primarily her and her husband’s responsibility.
Parul decided to go for work from home options. Though there were some available, none seemed too lucrative and she found herself thinly stretched between home and work responsibilities. So after a lot of contemplation, she finally decided to just concentrate on bringing up her little one.
Here started a different life for Parul – one she had probably never pictured for herself. She woke up in the morning as her baby was an early riser. Cooking, cleaning around the house, running behind the baby – her world was soon just doodies and diapers.
The problem was that it was nothing more. She missed her work, interacting with colleagues, and the mental stimulation. But most of all, she missed the money which brought financial independence. In the times she was alone, she would face an acute sense of loss of identity.
Who was she? What was she really doing? She often asked herself.
Above that, if she looked fatigued by the end of the day, her husband would ask ‘Aaj aisa kya kiya?’ and she would have no answer.
“Haan, aaj aisa kuch nahi kiya.”
She just ran around a one-year-old trying to feed her four meals a day. And just cleaned the poop umpteen number of times, picked the toys strewn around just once again. Just when she had fed the baby for an hour, she decided to puke her whole meal out and the process began once again.
She instructed the maid, sanitised the bottles, bathed the baby, took her to the park, and got the dinner ready. Nope, nothing different, nothing new, the house still looked like a mess and she looked like a bigger one.
And the grind continued. Slowly, she began to lose the confidence to speak to her people. What did she have to talk about anyways? She never went to new restaurants or saw any movies. All she did was take care of the house and the baby. She felt isolated and alone. But she could not tell anyone. Her husband felt she had is so easy, having fun with the baby whole day. It was blissful, wasn’t it?
And the friends who were working said she couldn’t be luckier – after all, she was getting to spend all the time with the baby! Nobody understood why she was exhausted (She had a maid too, right?) Why was she irritable?
One evening she broke down. The baby threw a bowl of vegetables she had just steamed and Parul just started crying. She needed a break. A break from feeling like an endless maid. A mental break from being ‘just a mom’. One from constantly trying to appear happy when she wasn’t.
Does all this sound familiar? You might be experience Stay-At-Home-Mom depression – something many women experience but no one wants to talk about.
Being a stay at home mother is not a cakewalk people make it to be. Being with your baby 24*7 is not easy or fun all the time. You are allowed to feel frustrated when someone says it’s not a ‘real job.’ Your struggles and feelings are valid.
Many mums suffer in silence and we need to talk about mental health out in the open. Seek help if you feel overwhelmed. You are not alone.
A version of this was first published here.
Picture credits: Pexels
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