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The One Thing I Don't Tell People As A Stay-At-Home Mom

Most people don’t get it. And I don’t blame them.

I’m an expat wife slash stay-at-home mom. I have two kids. And a nanny. I live in sunny Dubai.

I stay in my pajamas most of the time. And when I feel like going out, I ditch them for a sexy bright-colored bikini or some nice clothes I bought at the mall with my husband’s money. Cause I don’t work, you see. I see my kids too rarely, I have to admit, as our nanny is taking care of them while I am at the nail bar or the hairdresser, making sure to look decent. Being home all day, I owe that my husband. It’s the least I can do for him.

I am an expat wife slash stay-at-home mom. I have two kids. And a nanny. I live in sunny Dubai.

Only two lines and you have my life all figured, am I right? And I don’t blame you.

“How is it living in a place where it is summer all year?” people would ask. Or:
“How is it not having to go to work and being home all day?”

“It’s great,” I would answer. “I love it.”

And it is. It is great. And I love it. What I don’t add is, “but I wish I had some time to myself sometimes.”

It’s the one thing you can’t tell people when you are a stay-at-home mom.

How dare you, you stay-at-home mum who lives in sunny Dubai, who can stay in her pajamas all day if she wants and has nothing else to do than looking after the kids? How dare you be so egoistic? So ungrateful?

“I am a cook and a personal shopper. I am a nurse and a magician. I am a sports coach and a taxi driver. A psychologist and a coordinator. I am a mom.”

I’ve always been a workaholic. I got up at 5:30 to rush to work and stopped working late at night. And I loved it. Little understanding did I have for women who chose to stay at home after they had kids. Even less when they complained about how tired they were or about their busy lives. I wish my problems were as small as taking care of a sleeping baby, I would think, while I was rushing to another meeting. And I don’t blame my younger me. I forgive you, ‘cause little did I know back then about what it means to be a mom.

I did work hard before I had kids. I really did. And I was tired sometimes. That’s when I took some time off. To recharge my batteries. To keep me going. To achieve this oh so sought-after “work-life-balance” all companies are talking about (I am not a huge fan of this expression by the way, as if “work” and “life” were two completely different things but that’s a different story…). It was well-deserved. It was needed. Everyone was even expecting me to do so. Taking some time for myself was absolutely ok. Nobody would have ever questioned that. After all, I was working hard all week.

Then I had my first child. And I quit my job. I quit the stressful craziness of my working days that I loved so much. As you can imagine, only taking care of my baby was not what I initially wanted to do. But when you lay your newborn down to check out day-care possibilities (none of which seems appropriate to take care of your baby because, let’s face it, even though the nursery teachers might do a fabulous job, it remains their JOB. They will never replace your presence as a mum, they will never do the things exactly as you would want them to be done. Even the most loving nursery teacher will never love your child as you love him…), it suddenly becomes very tempting to postpone this painful separation for a while. To hold your baby a little bit longer. Add a move to another country when your baby is just about three months old and you easily abandon the idea of returning to work all together. At least for a while.

“When I became a stay-at-home mom, I gave up a little bit of my independence. And apparently ... the right to have some time to myself.”

So I decided to become that expat wife slash stay-at-home mom. That wife who is using her husband’s credit card. That mom whose only concern is to play with the kids and to buy them clothes and toys all day. That mom who can go to the beach every day and doesn’t have to spend hours in a dark and unfriendly office.

Yes, exactly that one.

And I DO use my husband’s credit card. You’re right. I DO try my very best to play and entertain the kids all day. I DO have the chance not to sit in an office all day.

But I still DO work. I parent. I play. I love. I am a jumping monkey and an Indian hiding in a teepee. I am a juke box and a pillow. I am a cook and a personal shopper. I am a nurse and a magician. I am a sports coach and a taxi driver. A psychologist and a coordinator. I am a mom. I am a mom every day and night of the week.

I am a mom. And I am ONLY that.

When I became a stay-at-home mom, I gave up a little bit of my independence. And a bit of my self-confidence. And, apparently, I also gave up the right to have some time to myself.

Try to answer the question, “How is it to be home all day?” with an honest “I wish I had more time to myself.” It doesn’t work. People don’t get it. They just don’t.

They don’t know how it is when the only conversations you have for some days are the ones you hold with your two-year old toddler. When you go to the supermarket only to see some adults sometimes.

They don’t know how it is to be constantly followed by a tiny human. That you love more than anything else in the world. But that is still following you everywhere. Every single second of the day.

They don’t know how it is to have given up on nice clothes. And high heels. And make up that goes beyond a splash of BB cream and a bit of mascara.

They don’t know. And I don’t blame them.

“How is it living in a place where it is summer all year?” people would ask. Or:
“How is it not having to go to work and being home all day?”

“It’s great,” I would answer. “I love it.”

A version of this post originally appeared on Our Big Dubai Adventure.

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