I often hesitate calling myself a “stay-at-home mum” because my life isn’t what I typical associate with being one. I hear about stay-at-home mum’s on my online mummy groups often – they are the ones juggling children (often multiple), housework, cooking, grocery shopping and all things related to the home and children. But my life looks very different. Like many Bruneians, we live with family and both sides of our family are very involved. We have an amah who does the cleaning and my mother or mother-in-law typically does the cooking. That leaves me with the sole task of looking after my one child (and cook several times a week) – sounds easy enough.
So why is it that’s I’m shattered at the end of the day? Needing a little time and space to myself – while being overridden with guilt that my job is so much easier than so many other people’s and so much more rewarding. I get to experience almost every milestone. I get to have the kind of closeness to my baby that not all mothers get. I get to take my daughter on play dates on weekdays. I get grandparents who will happily babysit while I go get some exercise (OK this only happened a couple of times… But the possibility is there!).
I love my life. But there are occasions when I get annoyed thinking about my husband being able to have a hot cup of tea in his office, on his own. Just sipping away without having to rush or having a baby clinging to your leg (or trying to get into a drawer full of knives). Then comes the guilt about feeling this way. I worked in high stress and challenging environments before having a baby, spending a few years as a lawyer and another couple of years in business and marketing. I remember the stressful days when I was drowning in work and had to work late nights or weekends. I remember the boring quiet days when the minutes would tick by before I could head out. I don’t miss those days at all, especially when I look at my daughters’ little facing beaming up at me and beaconing me to play. But sometimes it’s hard and your private thoughts bring up your mummy guilt hard! Especially when the little rascal is climbing up the stairs again for the 10th time today.
I know I’m luckier than many mums out there who would kill to spend more time with their babies. I feel blessed that we live in a community where family ties are strong and that I have the constant support of my parents and in-laws. I’m so thankful that the way we live in Brunei really gives me a chance to stay home with my baby instead of having to work (which I would have had to do had I stayed in Singapore). But sometimes… just sometimes… I get this little pang…