The Invisibleness of Stay-At-Home Motherhood

The invisbleness of stay-at-home motherhood

And finding meaning as a Stay-At-Home Mom

I have blogged severally about my Stay-At-Home Motherhood experience here and here. This past week I found myself reflecting on it (yet again). Been a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM) means I have also been away from the typical 8-to-5 routine. I will be honest and say, sometimes I miss it. This became more pronounced in the past few weeks I have been out of work. Granted, it is not an easy experience. But looking back it has afforded me more time to just take a step back, reflect and truly define what success looks like for me.

Helping moms with Postpartum Depression is where my heart truly is

My heart’s passion is to provide psychosocial support for moms with Postpartum Depression (PPD) through the organization I started, the Postpartum Depression CBO (click this link to go to the website). I have been there as the 1 out of 7 moms who got Postpartum Depression. As a survivor, I know what it feels like to be a new mom and not to feel the bliss that comes with motherhood. There is also the hopelessness that a new mom feels when she cannot bond with her child. I have had suicidal ideation and struggled with intrusive thoughts. But, I got help.

Read More: Can I get Postpartum Depression After the First Year?

My dear friend Carol noticed I was battling with depression due to my anger outbursts. She recommended a therapist who took me through my sessions. This is what spurred me to start Postpartum Depression CBO. I am paying it forward. It also gives me a sense of purpose and fulfilment, certainly not monetarily.

Stay-At-Home Moms will often hear, “What have you been doing all day?”

In the mundaneness of Stay-at-home motherhood, the running up and down to care for my son and do chores has had me wondering – wondering if it matters. Domestic chores are at the crux of running a home. They are very time-consuming, but that’s not all. They also feel invisible. How many times do stay-at-home moms get the all-too-familiar,” You have been home all day, what have you been doing?”

To think that a mom may not even have had a chance to rest makes it sad and hilarious at the same time. From cleaning dishes to mopping the house, scrubbing the toilet, preparing meals and ironing, there is always something to be done in the house. Some invisible task that is only noticed when it is not done.

Read More: The Complicated Truth About Stay-at-Home Motherhood

Sometimes it gets to me – the mundaneness and invisibleness of it all. See, while at the office, you clock in the hours. It is easy to quantify the work done. I filed X reports, had a brainstorming meeting, got a new client on board etc. What for the SAHM? Does it matter that the laundry is done for the week? Or that the dishes are washed for the fifth time that day? Or that the week’s meals have been prepared in good time? Does it matter?

Spending moments with my son keeps me going

I struggle a lot with this, to be honest. It feels insignificant. In the large scale of things, what does it matter? In a number of years to come, will it be remembered that the house was sparkling clean? Or that my dish rack was filled with clean dishes? Or even that uniform was well ironed on Saturday evening?

The invisbleness of Stay-at-home Motherhood
Found this caption oh so true and relatable!

I am not so sure. Spending time with Jay is the one thing that keeps me going. The fact that I have the chance to mould him and spend these precious days with him makes the days bearable for the most part.

This feels like rambling now, and I am not sure it even makes sense. But I thought to share, for the stay-at-home who feels alone in these emotions. We are often told to savour these moments because they are fleeting and they will pass. Sometimes, a mom needs that reminder that it is worthwhile and that it counts for something.

PS: This article will be worth your while – This Dad Thought Stay-At-Home Moms Did Nothing All Day. Then, THIS Happened…

Featured Image: Photo by Fancycrave.com from Pexels

 

 

Letting go

I haven’t been here in a while, and it feels like dusting that sultry dress you were itching to buy, got it on offer… and never wore it for months on end. Before finally deciding to dress up, show up and strut in that dress.

I have been away from this space, and I will be honest and admit – it has been a mix of neglect, despair and questioning, lots of questioning. The past few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions. I am not quite sure exactly when the rain started beating, but when the year started out, I was hopeful, optimistic and enthusiastic. I’d just confirmed that at PPDKenya, we would be running our first support group therapy sessions in January. In the months leading up to the end of 2017, a few moms had gotten in touch and registered for the support group meetings. It was encouraging really, because this is something I had been wanting to do all of 2017 (but was holding back because of fear). And so the year began, with hope, enthusiasm and lots of gusto.

We had our first meeting on Saturday 13th January 2018, and it marked the beginning of a whole new chapter for PPDKenya. It was encouraging to hear the moms’ stories, see the passion and hope to get better and make a full recovery. Our meetings were bimonthly, so we met every other Saturday for a total of five sessions up until the second weekend of March 2018. Never before have I been so certain of what my purpose is, what I am meant to be doing and my small thing as far as touching lives is concerned.

Away from PPDKenya however, I was struggling to get work done. I have worked online as a freelance writer since late 2012, a few months after the birth of my son. This wasn’t part of the plan to be honest. I have a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and had just began my career’s trajectory when I found out I was pregnant. Unprepared for this new role, wondering how I’d raise this child alone and having to move back to my family’s home meant my career took a backseat.

Part of the reason for this was I lost my job at about 7/8 months pregnant, and that threw me off balance. It was one of the factors that contributed to my Postpartum Depression (PPD). It is well known that financial constraints, unplanned pregnancies and raising a child single-handedly (whether due to the death of a spouse or a partner taking off when responsibility knocks) are all risk factors for PPD, as was the case for me.

Read more: Celebrating with PPDKenya support group 01

Without any source of income, I found it pretty hard to get a nanny so I could go job hunting. That is how I found myself looking online after a dear friend mentioned online jobs in passing. Initially, it was hard because having to meet deadlines when still learning how to wean, sleep train and just take care of my son is not a walk in the park. At the time too, I was struggling with PPD, found it incredibly hard to bond with my son, and would, from time to time, imagine a world without us both. I did experience suicide ideation too, and every other day it would feel too overwhelming… I have shared that in this post.

I eventually got help after attending therapy sessions with a counselling psychologist (who has since walked the journey with me) and made a full recovery. I continued to work from home, while managing this website. It certainly wasn’t what I studied for, but it paid the bills and so I kept going. As at the time of writing this post, it has been six years of working from home – pretty much all of my son’s life.

And it was great, until it wasn’t. My social life is well, non-existent. I was struggling to accept that my life as it is/was, revolves around my son – prepare him for school, drop him off at school, work until 3PM, pick him from school, prepare his snacks and dinner, spend time with him, put him to sleep, lay out his uniform… rinse, repeat, rewind. Add to this the mundaneness of daily house chores and I started to feel like I was losing myself in motherhood. Now, please get me right: I love my son, so much, I am grateful he came into my life and I appreciate these moments for they are fleeting. But at the back of my mind I asked myself, why do I feel like I lost myself in motherhood? Like I became a mom and everything I loved to do faded into the background? What happens when my son is out of the nest and I am left alone? Will I be struggling to pick up the pieces? To relearn who I am, not as a mom or daughter – but as an individual? Will I be struggling to fill my days because I know not who I am anymore and have no idea what I love to do?

Read More: Change

After six years of working from home I started to feel closed in, lost, flustered. The demands of the online job meant often, I couldn’t work on PPDKenya, which is where my heart truly is. I am passionate about raising awareness about PPD and walking with moms who are struggling. It fires me up, it makes me come alive, and it is so fulfilling. But I continually found myself typing the days away, letting go of my dreams. I can’t explain how frustrating it is, and slowly, I started to inch closer to the edge.

I’d wake up on some days and feel there was nothing to live for. I felt lost, overwhelmed and frustrated. I knew everything wasn’t okay when, for more than two weeks in recent months, I’d drop my son off to school and come back home to cry it out – till 3PM when I’d do a facial to try hide my swollen eyes from him. I’d write for hours on end, filling up my journal pages and emptying my thoughts. My mind was constantly racing and I couldn’t seem to catch a breath, ever. It was exhausting, physically, mentally and emotionally. I remember how, in despair, I admitted to a friend how I was tired of living, yet not wanting to die because I had so much to do with PPDKenya. I will add too, that I was not suicidal/ wasn’t having thoughts of harming myself or my child, and that’s hard to articulate. I felt like all I wanted to do was exist in a vacuum. Not live, not die – just exist. I am not sure that makes sense, but that’s the best way to explain it..

During this time, many thoughts crossed my mind. The racing thoughts:

  • Does PPDKenya even matter? Is anyone even reading what we do/ follow what we do online? We could simply close shop because it feels like it doesn’t matter, isn’t helping anyone.
  • My family supports me the best way they can, but I am letting them down.
  • I am not caring for my son like good moms ought to (regardless of the fact that it felt like my life revolved around him)
  • So many contacts on phone, so few people I feel I could talk to. (Also, some of my closest friends at the time were also fighting their own battles, and I was cognizant of the fact that they may not be available, and that is okay. But it didn’t take away from the loneliness.)
  • I feel suffocated; i feel like I am drowning and there is no way out.
  • I feel grossly inadequate, insignificant and unworthy – a failure really.

And the list goes on and on. I know that these thoughts are not the truth, but in a moment of utter overwhelm, there is no mental fortitude to fight back. And so, for a couple of months now I have been in that place, that dark place. A few days ago, I hit rock bottom and knew I had to get help. I had to ask for help, and I did. It brought hard truths to the surface. It made radical change a necessity if I was to get out of this mental space. It made me realize that nothing is worth it if it affects my mental health negatively – not a job, not a relationship, not manipulative relatives, not a toxic work environment. The mental fog is beginning to clear. Starting to feel a lot more like myself – it is hard, it is scary, it is beautiful.